Australian business owners are amongst those least affected by stress in the wake of the GFC, trailing only Finland, Sweden and Denmark.
The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) 2010, which covers the opinions of over 7,400 business owners across 36 economies, found that just over a third (36 percent) of business leaders in Australia claimed to have experienced increased stress levels in the last year, compared to an average of 65% in the Asia Pacific region and 56 percent globally.
Only leaders of privately held businesses (PHBs) in Sweden (23 percent), Denmark (25 percent) and Finland (33 percent) reported lower levels of stress increase than those in Australia. At the other end of the scale, Mainland China tops the league for the most stressed leaders with 76 percent.
Business leaders in Victoria reported fewest cases of increased stress, with only a quarter (26 percent) feeling more stressed than they did a year ago. South Australian business owners on the other hand have been most affected, with 46 percent claiming their stress levels had increased in the last year.
Not surprisingly, pressure on cashflow (28 percent) was the biggest concern in Australia in the last twelve months, followed by the economic climate (27 percent). Those in New South Wales were most likely to have felt the impact of cashflow concerns, with 38 percent claiming this as their biggest source of stress. For West Australians and those in Victoria, office politics in the workplace was a significant stress source – second to economic climate and cashflow pressures respectively – whereas globally this was only the seventh biggest concern for business leaders.
While generally the report showed a correlation between stress levels and days taken off work each year, of the ‘least stressed’ countries, Australians take the fewest holidays – 15 days per year, compared with 23 (Denmark, Finland) and 22 (Sweden).
Victorian’s take most holidays (18.8 days) and have the fewest cases of increased stress, while the more stressed South Australians take four days fewer.
It is likely that the relatively low levels of stress experienced by Australians in this survey is an anomaly rather than the norm for Australia, with the result potentially indicative of the smaller impact of the GFC in Australia compared to other nations internationally, trend figures for this survey are necessary to compare to historical averages.