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Are Business Owners Happier Than Employees?

Helping businesses achieve their goals is at the heart of what do. We help business owners dream big but without the right infrastructure, team and attitude to work – will businesses ever be a success? We wanted to dig a little deeper to understand who is healthier and happier, business owners or employees?
Are Business Owners Happier Than Employees?

We carried out a survey with 500 business owners and employees across the UK and from a variety of industries with questions varying from number of sick days taken to the likelihood of working on their day off; our findings were, quite frankly, revealing to say the least. With the current climate, and new figures from ONS revealing that productivity in the UK has fallen, what business owners and employees take out from the workplace has never been more important.

Starting off with business owners’ and employees’ approach to the all-important perceived work/life balance we discovered that the average business owner works 18% more hours than employees (45 compared to 38). However, despite the long hours, 52% claim to be very satisfied in their current role compared to only 27% of employees. When it comes to downtime business owners are more inclined to think they get the balance right with 38% of business owners claiming to be very happy with their work/life balance, compared to only 25% of employees.

Are business owners happier chart

Does happiness change depending on industry and age?


Absolutely. We discovered that by far, the hardest working industry were those in electricity/gas/water with business owners working 66% more and employees 39% more than the average – a whopping 75 and 53 weekly hours respectively.

Furthermore there’s something to be said about ownership and autonomy at a younger age - only 12% of employees aged 18-24 said they were very happy with their work/life balance but as business owners this category’s happiness rockets to 60%. But when the average business owner is 51 we need to take a closer look at this age category’s perception of happiness in relation to their work/life balance. 37% describe themselves as very satisfied in their current role although this drops to 18% in the 55-64 category.

Perceived work/life balance aside, taking time off work for some much needed R&R is an essential factor to health and happiness. So when we discovered that the average business owner only takes 19 days annual leave and only 15% of them didn’t do any work at all whilst away, we were a surprised that over half surveyed were satisfied with their work/life balance. So much for switching off whilst on annual leave…

Digging deeper, the data showed that the younger the age of the business owner the more likely they are to work during holidays – 67% of 18-24 years, 57% of 25-34, 54% of 35-44 and 47% of 55-64. London-based business owners are the main culprits, 64% of them working every day whilst on annual leave. Responsibility really does seem to rest on business owners’ shoulders.

We see a slight attitude shift by employees, the average employee takes 24% more holiday than business owners and 47% of them didn’t do any work at all. However 75% of electricity/gas/water employees, admit to working on their days off.

So how is this all impacting their health?


We wanted to understand whether business owners and employees recognize the importance of their mental health by implementing mindfulness techniques as part of their work routine.

68% of business owners practice mindfulness, but when we explore this further, only 6% of 55-64 year olds participate in this compared to 87% of 18-24 year olds.

When it comes to the impact this is taking on their ability to work, astonishingly business owners take 3 times the amount of sick days as employees and perhaps unbelievably men take over double the amount of sick days than women both as business owners and employees.

Getting the right work/life balance and encouraging all staff whether its employers or employees to do so is really important. So whilst business owners’ perception of their health and happiness might appear more positive than employees – the stats speak for themselves, they take more sick days and less holiday.

How could Esme help?

Here at Esme Loans we offer a variety of business loans, if you’re looking for finance to invest in your business then try our business loans calculator to see how much you could borrow.