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A third of UK SME bosses take less than two weeks leave

02 October, 2014

A third of SME bosses in the UK manufacturing sector take less than two weeks of holiday a year, according to a new survey. And of those that do take holiday, almost a fifth are in constant contact with their offices while on holiday.

The figures ­– from Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly poll of SME owners and managers from a range of sectors across the UK – reveal that 24% of bosses are in touch with work at least once a day while on leave, while 31% check emails but don’t contact the office unless it’s urgent.

“It’s understandable that leaving work behind can be particularly difficult when you’re responsible for running a small business as there might not be anyone else to pick up tasks while you’re away,” says Steve Gee, managing director of Close Brothers’ manufacturing division. “While 71% of manufacturing business owners told us that they believe that taking a break from work can give their business a boost, in reality over a third of the total respondents take less than two weeks of annual leave each year.

“Our statistics also show that when they do take time out, many bosses find it difficult to switch off completely,” he adds. “However, it could be argued that it is better to work some of the time rather than abandon holidays altogether, and technological advancements have made it possible for entrepreneurs to run and manage their business from anywhere in the world.”

The survey also reveals that the biggest sources of stress for manufacturing SME owners while on holiday are:

•  increased workload when they return to work (31%);

Gee: bosses find it difficult to switch off

•  general anxiety about being away from the business (18%); and

•  reduction in employee productivity while they’re away (12%).

More than half of the manufacturing bosses surveyed said that managing cash flow is one of the major challenges they face. “Poor cash flow might mean suppliers or workers aren’t paid on time so my advice is to look closely at ways to manage this so the business can continue to operate effectively, even when the business owner is on holiday,” Gee comments.

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