Xero pioneers new programme to support mental health
Xero pioneers new programme to support mental health in Kiwi small businesses
The pilot programme will provide small businesses with access to free face-to-face, telephone and online counselling
WELLINGTON, 4 March 2019 - Xero - the global small business platform, today announced it will be providing Kiwi small businesses with crucial mental health support through a new pilot programme called XAP.
The pilot has been launched to give small businesses access to an Employment Assistance Programme (EAP) which will provide practical guidance to help people manage personal and work issues.
Mental health continues to be a major topic of focus across New Zealand, with an estimated 25 percent of the workforce diagnosed with mental health issues. The government’s Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry last year highlighted the critical role that workplaces play in promoting mental health and wellbeing. It noted the need for programmes to reduce stress among employees.
XAP or the Xero Assistance Programme will help to meet some of that need. It will be available free of charge through Xero’s global provider, Benestar, and initially offered to 5,000 small business owners, their employees and their families. Users will have access to face-to-face, telephone and online counselling, as well as the Benehub and Benestar app.
Craig Hudson, Managing Director for New Zealand & Pacific Islands at Xero, has had personal experience of mental health challenges and believes that now is the time for action.
“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 business, 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.
“Unlike some of the larger corporates, many small businesses don’t have access to the funded support and counselling usually made available in bigger workplaces. You only need to talk to a small business owner to hear of the challenges, particularly around isolation and financial stress.”
The World Health Organisation has also called for urgent action, predicting that mental illness will be the leading cause of disability and absence in the workplace by 2030 if it is not proactively addressed.
Saskia Kirkbeck and Steve Barret, owners of cafe and artisan roastery, Red Rabbit, believe the pilot programme shows Xero understands the needs of small businesses.
“We are a small team who spend a huge amount of time together and can sometimes struggle to get the space we need. We also know that sometimes the stress and workload associated with running a small business wears down your coping mechanisms so when something happens out of the blue that you’re unprepared for - you might not respond as well as you would’ve wanted. Having the opportunity to speak with someone with an outside perspective would be hugely valuable and it’s awesome that Xero is providing this opportunity.”
According to Julie Cressey, General Manager New Zealand at Benestar, this programme has the potential to really make a difference.
“Benestar are very excited to be supporting Xero with such a groundbreaking offering. They have recognised the need to support their business partners and customers in a real sense by acknowledging the personal challenges that small businesses can face. Our experience tells us that this offering could potentially save lives and relationships by providing professional support to those facing personal and professional challenges.”
“We are thrilled to be able to offer this pilot programme and look forward to doing more in this space to support Kiwi small businesses in the future.” Hudson added.