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Study Finds High Level of Stress and Attrition in SMBs


In the last one and a half years an increasing number of people across the globe often experienced stress and burnouts in varying degree thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. As the workforce has entered a hybrid phase, a new Adobe study that surveyed 5,000 people in the small-to-medium business (SMB) segment across seven global regions including India, reveals that more than half (56%) of SMB leaders say they now work longer hours than they would like to. The employees clocked on an average nearly 45 hours per week, more than the standard work week.

While it has been seen that remote/hybrid work introduced the much-needed flexibility and increased productivity during the pandemic, it has also increased expectations for workers to be on call and always on. With increased hours comes increased pressure to always be reachable, 60% SMB leaders feel pressured to respond to emails and customer issues after hours. The already blurry line between work life and personal life has, for many, been scrubbed away entirely, the study finds.

Burnout has gotten worse

More than a third of SMB leaders say their employees felt burnout and attrition due to work pressures during the pandemic. The effect of burnout, however, is not felt equally. SMBs that are women-owned (49%) and essential small business owners (67%) felt more stretched for time at work than non-minority-owned (52%), men-owned (38%) and non-essential small business owners (49%).

“There have been so many changes and challenges thrown at us since the pandemic” said one minority SMB leader. “We had to work extra hard to adjust and adapt. Goalposts moved and everyone had to do their part to make things work without sacrificing our standards and quality of service.”

These stresses carry over into home life. Minority-owned (64%), women-owned (54%) and essential small business leaders (60%) felt higher levels of stress in their personal lives from trying to keep their business afloat, working into evenings and weekends, too.

Most leaders say they’re losing the passion that spurred them to launch their own businesses. Nearly half of essential small business owners said they would be willing to sell their business tomorrow if they could.

Based on what our research revealed, it’s no surprise that resignations are on the rise. More than 4 million American workers quit their jobs in April alone, which the Labor Department says is a record.

It’s clear that trend will continue. For example, 35% of enterprise workers said they plan to switch jobs in the next year. Of that 61% say they would do so simply to be in more control over their schedules.

It’s time for automating tasks

While the forces behind these trends are large and complex, something that’s clear from our research is that workers now have higher expectations for technology to help them work faster and more efficiently.

This is especially true for low-effort tasks such as managing files, forms, contracts, payments, and invoices. Workers spend a third of the workweek on mundane, repetitive work, with 86 percent of enterprise workers and 83% of SMB leaders saying these tasks get in the way of doing their jobs effectively.

In the future, where employees are collaborating across offices and with remote workers, employers must embrace user-friendly technology tools, AI and automation to retain and attract talent. Adobe’s study found half of the employees would switch jobs if doing so gave them access to better tools that made them more effective at work. According to many, if technology and automation save their time, money and energy, they would pursue their passions and focus on personal growth.

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