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Stress Levels Go Up in NZ Family Businesses

Media Release 21 November 2006

Stress Levels Go Up in New Zealand Family Businesses

Half of all family businesses in New Zealand saw their stress levels increase or increase significantly over the past year, according to new research conducted by business and financial advisers Grant Thornton.

The findings, which were part of a Grant Thornton international survey carried out with more than 3,000 mid-sized family business owners from 27 countries, showed that 49.3% of the New Zealand businesses were in the increased stress bracket. Another 38% felt that stress levels had remained the same, while the remainder said there had been a decrease.

They were far from the top end of the increased-stress scale, however, with Taiwan (90%), China (84%), the Philippines (78%), Botswana (76%) and Russia (67%) topping the chart.

At the bottom of the scale were Sweden (20%) and the United States (39%).

Neighbours Australia fared a little bit better than New Zealand, with 45.4% reporting increased stress.

Grant Thornton New Zealand spokesperson Peter Sherwin commented: "It is not uncommon for family businesses to report high levels of stress. There is often a fine line between personal and business life in these situations and this can breed stress.

"Unfortunately less than 10% of family businesses in New Zealand make it through to the third generation and increasingly stress is a prime factor in this attrition rate."

Both job security and overseas travel were relatively low causes of stress in New Zealand and Australian companies, but lack of leave could be a point of pressure, according to Peter Sherwin.

"Leaders in New Zealand family businesses had on average 17.5 days leave a year. The figure was generally higher in European countries, most of which had 20 days plus on average. In the case of France, they actually managed to average 26 days a day on leave.

"It would seem that a natural way to lessen stress for New Zealand business-owners is for them to just try to stretch out their leave.

"But spare a thought for those poor people running family businesses in Asia - in Taiwan the average is only eight days and in Thailand it is a miserly four days a year."


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