Little Christmas cheer for SMEs


For most of us, Christmas is a time for a well-earned break, but many bosses of small and medium-sized businesses struggle to take time off over the festive season.

According to the business banking arm of Abbey, formerly the Abbey National, Britain's SME's are in danger of working themselves into the ground by the long hours they work.

Holidays don't feature highly in the bosses of small businesses, with 42 per cent only taking two weeks holiday or less each year.

And the long hours don't stop at weekends either, with 41 per cent saying they work every weekend.

Almost a quarter (21 per cent) work 66 hours or more a week. Bosses in the North West of England tend to work the longest hours (56 hours per week) compared with an average of 52 hours in London and the South East.

In fact, the average number of hours SMEs work each week is 54, yet only 13 per cent of people in full time employment in the UK work similar hours (between 49 and 59 hours per week).

The majority (78 per cent) of the population work between 31 and 48 hours per week. Abbey business marketing director Michael Campbell said: "SMEs work extremely long hours in order to succeed. This could be because they don't have enough staff on board to delegate to or because they are worrying about the financial side of the business.

"Seasonal businesses such as hotels and guesthouses, pubs and shops will obviously be extremely busy over Christmas, but many other small business bosses will also feel they need to work over this period just to keep afloat."