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Managing Stress in a Family-Owned Business

Managing Stress in a Family-Owned Business

According to a COVID-19 study surveyed conducted by the  Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 1 in 5 employees is feeling burnt out. With the average business owner working well over 60 hours a week, family-owned businesses and entrepreneurs are being especially hit hard by stress and demanding work implications due to coronavirus response.

Since 2003, family-owned businesses have accounted for 64 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, generate over 62 percent of the country’s employment, and account for 78 percent of all new job creation.

While everyone experiences stress, chronic stress can have profound impacts on a person’s mental health—especially if that person has an underlying health condition such as anxiety, depression, and a decrease of cognitive ability. COVID-19 has added to stress as many business owners are facing unprecedented stress levels due to Coronavirus illness of their family and workforce and interferences of company revenue.

With family businesses having more blurred lines between personal and professional endeavors than their corporate competitors, business owners of family operations are more susceptible to burn out and high stress. Stress is the bodily response to pressure from a life experience or situation. It is typically divided into three types:

Types of Stress:

  • Acute Stress: The most common type of stress, resulting in a “fight or flight” response where symptoms disappear as soon as the stressor is gone.
  • Episodic Stress: When acute stress occurs regularly and a person does not have time to recover from the stressor, which can result in lower overall tolerance of stress and increased sensitivity to stressors.
  • Chronic Stress: Long-term stress from situations where a person feels he or she does not have control over the outcome, potentially causing serious effects on mental and physical health.

Ways to Cope:

  • Invest in tools and equipment: Be ready to lead with technology that can make both your life or your family’s lives easier during this time. Having cloud-based software for accounting, payroll and HR is a start. If you haven’t already, invest in video communication software such as Zoom or WebEx to talk to your family members or working teams. Whenever possible, conduct business virtually and as COVID-19 cases increase, consider hosting family events virtually, too.
  • Outsource trusted advisors: Having key advisors such as legal and family business counselors are great investments for a family business. An educated, third party is a productive way to gather insight and feedback when considering blind spots to your business, such as succession planning, retirement, and/or human resources.
  • Lead with emotional intelligence: Case Western Reserve University coined the term “emotional intelligence” and it is defined as the ability to understand, motivate, and develop yourself and others. During this time, build self-awareness using the tools and equipment and trusted advisors and also by digging deeper to tap into your psyche. Be mindful and take time to understand what motivates you and also, what stresses you out. Where you can incorporate mindfulness and self-reflection by partaking in mediation, yoga, or even therapy. Engage your organization’s benefits broker to see if their EAP (Employee Assistance Program) offers these services and tell your management team so they can partake!
  • Build a community: The best way to overcome adversity in this changing pandemic is to start with your most important assets; your employees. In the season of giving, take on virtual philanthropic and engagement opportunities and reach out to other local businesses for their best practices. Lead with empathy. Share the tools, feedback, and resources you’ve found. We’re all in this together.

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