Craig Hudson, Xero’s managing director for New Zealand and Pacific Islands, said, “When it comes to mental health, our statistics in New Zealand are truly awful. Too many Kiwis are struggling and often don’t know where or who to turn to. There is a growing need for mental health support in small businesses, with 80 percent of small business owners naming isolation as their main cause for concern. We have a collective responsibility, and this is our opportunity to step up, not to solve the problems, but to help.”
Xero, a cloud accounting software company, is setting up a pilot programme in New Zealand to offer mental health support to small businesses across the nation. This new programme will see 5000 small business owners, as well as their employees and their families, have access to counselling through Xero’s Employment Assistant Programme.
The Employment Assistant Programme targets a group of people who are susceptible to high levels of stress and pressure. Small business owners often have pressure on them 24/7 and find it harder to switch off. This new programme looks to relieve stress and help them, as well as their employees.
Rival software company MYOB found that 31 percent of small and medium business owners reported having had a mental health condition since starting/taking over their business in a recent survey. Furthermore, of those people, 59 percent said they were affected by depression, and around 40 percent had experienced anxiety. Hudson continued, “[Offering counselling] is democratising what has traditionally just been for big business. I want small businesses to have the benefit of this.”
Red Rabbit, a café and artisan roastery is one of the small businesses set to be involved with the pilot. Saskia Kirkbeck and Steve Barret, owners of Red Rabbit, said that their small team would greatly benefit from the opportunity to speak to someone with an outside view. Kirkbeck said, “We are a small team who spend a huge amount of time together and can sometimes struggle to get the space we need. It’s really important to give time to yourself and gain a perspective outside of what you do on the daily.”