Businesspeople decline holidays to support firms

New Zealand had one of the biggest reductions in holidays taken by business peoplelast year.

The Grant Thornton International Business Report has shown that New Zealand had one of the biggest reductions in holidays taken by business people last year.

The report surveyed 6000 business worldwide including New Zealand between September and December 2011.  The target respondents were chief executive officers, managing directors, chairment or other senior executives, with the title dependent on what was most appropriate for the individual country, across five sectors: manufacturing (25%), services (25%) retail (15%) and construction (10%) with 25% spread across all sectors.

In the last year the average number of days taken off by business people dropped from 18 to 13, Grant Thornton New Zealand privately held business national director Pam Newlove said.  Only Japan showed a greater change, with a drop from 13 to five days off, Grant Thornton said.

The survey showed New Zealand had the highest percentage of business people struggling with the work/life balance at 21%, ahead of Australia at 20% and the global average of 9%.

Ms Newlove said the results probably reflected greater pressure business owners were under to meet goals and targets.

“When a business is under pressure there is an even greater need for owners to work longer and stay closer to the business to resolve issues quickly for customers and/or pick up on new business opportunities.”

She said it had become clear over the last few years that business owners were working harder for every dollar of profit. 

Global levels of stress felt by business leaders and owners showed their lowest annual increase, however, since 2005, with New Zealand businesses showing a 15% increase in stress levels in 2011, compared with 28% in 2010, 34% in 2009 and 36% in 2008. 

Globally there was a 28% increase in stress levels in 2011, down from 45% in 2010.  Asia Pacific was the “most stressed” region, the survey showed, with net 44% reporting an increase in stress over the past 12 months, down from 58% in 2010.  Net increase in stress in Europe had declined from 40% in 2010 to 22% in 2011, the report said.

Ms Newlove said stress levels in Australia were on the increase with 23% in 2011, compared with 12% in 2010, “making it one of the few countries in the world where stress levels are growing more rapidly that the year previous.”

Sports and exercise were the main way New Zealand business people dealt with stress with 80% of participants saying this was their key strategy, compared with Australia’s 65%, Finland’s 92%, the Netherlands 86% and the United States 79%.

Ms Newlove said delegation also appeared to be good stress relief for New Zealanders with 67% of participants using this strategy, seventh among the 40 countries surveyed.

Entertaining at home to relieve stress was also an identified method for 69% of New Zealanders, 36% included DIY as a stress reliever and 23% used shopping as a stress reliever.

Grant Thornton said the reduction in holidays could also be due to lower staffing levels in many businesses, so that it was harder for employers to take a break.