Research — 27 October 2014

WORK-life balance is never easy to get right, especially in a small business where the two are often synonymous.

But while sacrificing family and personal time for work might seem like a recipe for business success, burning the midnight oil can do more harm than good, and not just in the home.

A new study into the issue is being undertaken at the Queensland University of Technology, with researcher Jenna Campton hoping to find the link between motivation, passion, work-life balance and business success.

“A lot of people don’t really sit down and think about what their personal motives are and how this influences their business, or vice versa, how their business influences their personal life,” Ms Campton said.

The study will quiz respondents on their motivations for entering business, how that’s changed, and what they’re currently feeling about the state of their business and its future.

Ms Campton said the findings would help small business owners to think differently about how their work relates to the rest of their life, and whether a more positive balance could pay personal, financial and social dividends.

“It’s something that should be common knowledge, that if you take care of yourself your business should grow,” she said.

“When you look at a small business, you judge it by its productivity, by its growth, by its financial measures, but no one stops and says; ‘Is that person happy? Are they passionate? How are they impacting the community around them?’”

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland has recognised the challenges faced by small business owners when it comes to work-life balance by partnering with mental health organisation beyondblue.

“Our research and feedback shows that small business owners are passionate, driven, always switched on, diverse, proud, but also under-resourced, sometimes overwhelmed and under financial pressure,” a CCIQ spokesman said.

“There is no doubt they work long hours, often weekends, but success for themselves and their family is ultimately the goal and priority.”

Research conducted earlier this year by PwC on behalf of beyondblue showed that for each dollar a company invests in the mental health of their employees, they receive a return of around $2.80.

Brendan Harris, who runs the cafe on Brisbane’s Goodwill Bridge with his wife and 13-year-old son, said small business owners faced pressure to sacrifice their family life in the pursuit of financial success, but ultimately the two could go hand-in-hand.

He said creating a warm environment and a sense of community at his cafe helped his business by making customers feel welcome, as well as providing him with a social outlet during work time.

“It’s about building relationships and it’s not just about using them as clients, you really are forming real relationships with people,” he said.

“We meet fantastic people through the business and if you’re an open and welcoming sort of person and have a bit of a chat with people, that becomes part of your social life as well … you become part of their life too, and part of their family.”

This article first appeared on ‘Courier Mail’ on 26 October 2014.

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