Did you know Northern small business owners are the UK’s happiest? New research from Yorkshire Bank 62% of entrepreneurs in Leeds and Edinburgh rating themselves as happy in their day to day working lives. I live within walking distance of the New Forest and 20 minutes drive from the ocean, I’d say I was pretty happy! But why is happiness important to SME’s and freelancers? Happiness, in my opinion, is an underrated emotion. Small businesses, freelancers and actually EVERYONE should be paying more attention to how happy we are.
What benefits are there for being happy at work?
- Improved Health : This, in turn, leads to fewer sick days. When you are self-employed sick days are usually a luxury we can ill afford (pun intended!).
- Develop Resilience : Resilience looks at the ability to bounce back from setbacks and overcome them which enables us to instead work things out encouraging us to turn failures into learning experiences and making a win from a setback. Being happy means you feel less conflict and negativity making you more willing to look for win-win outcomes from even bad situations.
- Better Quality Relationships : These are relationships both at work and socially.
- Better Performance : Increased mental wellbeing leads to better performance, increased productivity and sales.
Being happy brings more enjoyment and success in your life. You may think that happiness and success go hand-in-hand because success causes happiness, but it’s not true. When you spend time with someone who makes you feel happy, positive and enthused, you want to repeat that transaction again and again. The good feelings generated by your friendly interactions create a happiness ripple that travels as far as three connections away.
The country’s happiest entrepreneurs live in Leeds and Edinburgh, along with Leicester. The majority (62%) in those cities rate themselves as happy in their day to day working lives, with 14% very happy. Eekk, that seems like sad statistics to me conjoined with the fact that nearly half of all UK SME’s surveyed believe technology is more important to their business than people.
46% of small business owners believe technology is more important to their business than people. London tops the rankings with the highest figure of all UK cities with 56%. It also shows that high-growth businesses are more likely to be tech-driven, with 71% finding technology to be a key driver for growth.
I started my first (online) business Charlie Moo’s back in 2008 as I wanted to do something for myself, contribute to the families finances and develop a work-life balance that suited my family. I spend the holidays with my children, I never miss a school event and I’m here if they are sick. Whilst I appreciate that not everyone is as privileged as myself, I do wonder why we put money, success and materialistic possessions above our own happiness?
Ways to increase your happiness at work :
Practice Mindfulness Techniques : Consider adding breathing exercises which aim to control stress and anxiety, by slowing the overall activity of the brain and relaxing both the mind and the body, into your routine. Or a visualisation exercise is intended to release tension and improve concentration. You can even try chair exercises which include your shoulders, leg, feet and stomach for relaxing various parts of the body that stiffen and ache as we spend long periods of time at our desks. The modern sedentary lifestyle is responsible for an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and a loss of muscle and bone strength. (Here’s where investing in a standing desk can help your circulation too) I love spending time outside, encourage yourself or employees to take lunch breaks outside, not only for the vitamin D but trees have healing properties all these things bring clarity, calm and increase productivity.
Networking : Get out there and spend time with other, like-minded individuals who share the same passion. Real life people, real-life interactions, not something you have read online. These interactions and the effects they have on our mental health, happiness and productivity are paramount for me. I plan my networking so that I am out of my home office once a week, I invest within myself as well as the business.
Work-life Balance : The Expect More campaign also found that a quarter (25%) of small businesses and entrepreneurs in the UK said they sacrifice time with friends and family. This can only have a detrimental effect on our happiness. It’s important to take a break from work in order to recuperate, clear your mind and spend time doing things that make you happy with people who make you happy. Remember happy people are more productive, and happiness spreads!
I’d love to hear any top tips you may have for creating a happy life, balancing work and life and doing more of what you love.
About the research :
The business research referred to was conducted amongst 2,000 SME owners in December 2018. It was carried out by specialist B2B research agency Coleman Parkes, on behalf of Yorkshire Bank. The cities covered: London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Leeds and Leicester. The research includes businesses with 250 or less employees, with a turnover of £2m or less. The research compares insights into work-life balance, growth ambitions, innovation, dynamism and diversity.
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