Business leader wellbeing

BDO Business Wellbeing Index - April 2024

Business financial concerns continue to drive negative wellbeing, but it’s not all bad news

To track business leaders’ wellbeing, our report applies the World Health Organisation’s internationally recognised WHO-5 Index, which measures wellbeing over the last two-week period. Our March 2024 survey shows that while business leaders’ WHO-5 Index score has dropped in March 2024 vs October 2023, it remains higher than during the two surveys prior to the General Election 

The percentage of business leaders feeling less mentally healthy than normal in the last six months has dropped significantly from October 2023 (when it was 58%) to March 2024 (49%) – consistent with pre-Election levels. 

Looking at what’s causing concern for business leaders, business financial pressures continue to be the main driver of negative wellbeing in business life in the past six months. Of those business leaders who have been feeling less mentally healthy than usual, 63% say business finances have been a driver of this. This is a significant uplift from October 2023, when 49% of business leaders indicated that business financials were contributing to negative wellbeing, and reflects what we’re seeing in business performance sentiment. 

External economic pressure is the second biggest driver of negative wellbeing in business lives, as well as being the business performance measure leaders feel least positive about. This shows the significant impact the economy can have on both business sentiment and wellbeing. 

Other top concerns for business leaders include not having enough people to rely on for support and high workloads, suggesting some business leaders may be feeling overwhelmed by work and like they don't have the right people to turn to. 

Meanwhile, external political factors are also a leading driver of negative wellbeing. While the new Government campaigned heavily on pro-business policies, many of these have yet to be put into practice, and business leaders may well be realising that change takes time when it comes to politics and the economy. International political stability may also be driving this sentiment, with situations like the Israel-Hamas conflict, Chinese-Taiwan tensions, and upcoming USA election potentially playing on the minds of many. 

Looking ahead, the top five expected drivers of negative wellbeing in six months’ time are the same as the current drivers. However, business leaders are feeling less worried about these measures in the future, with a significant drop in the percentage of people expecting business financial concerns to drive negative wellbeing – down to 46% in six months’ time. Leaders also expect economic factors to have less of an impact on their wellbeing in the future, while concerns are growing around labour supply challenges.  

Leaders are generally not troubled by new technologies, cyber security concerns, climate change transition risks, or risks to infrastructure from climate change and weather events. While it’s heartening that these factors are not driving negative wellbeing, it’s important that business leaders continue to actively work on these business factors to ensure they are not forgotten. This is especially true of AI, cybersecurity, and environmental risks, which are leading risk factors in the New Zealand business landscape now and in the future.

Tips for business leaders

For practical tips to help navigate the business issues driving negative wellbeing among New Zealand business leaders, please refer to our tips section.

Managing your wellbeing

While business leader wellbeing has declined since our October 2023 survey, it’s positive to see it remains above pre-Election levels. This may be in part due to business leaders holding onto hope of economic change driven by the new coalition government. It may also be due to the steps businesspeople are taking to stay mentally healthy in their business and personal lives. These include adopting flexible work practices, managing boundaries, socialising with friends and family, and getting enough sleep. 

Wellbeing support:

It’s important to lean on your trusted team for the support you need in managing your wellbeing and business - whānau, friends, colleagues, and professional advisers, including your accountant. Your local BDO team are always on hand with professional business advice and accounting solutions to help you stay on top of your business finances. 

When business leaders are feeling under pressure, it’s important they feel equipped to reach out for support. Julie Cressey, General Manager at TELUS Health New Zealand, shares insights on how business leaders are feeling at the moment and what they can be doing to manage their wellbeing.

TELUS Health supports the Xero Assistance Programme. Xero funds two free sessions on a per issue basis through the Xero Assistance Programme.

For further wellbeing support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your trusted contacts or one of the sources below. 

    BDO is proud to be the first Xero Global Partner. Xero provides Xero small businesses, their employees, and their families with access to the Xero Assistance Programme (XAP). XAP offers free, confidential access to face-to-face, telephone, live chat, and online counselling. Find out more here
  • 1737 is a free Government-run advice line for anyone who is feeling stressed or just needs someone to talk to. You can ring them for free or text 1737. Find out more here.
    Find targeted resources for New Zealand business owners, leaders, and entrepreneurs, at First Steps here
    For further support, for yourself or others, visit the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand website.
  • For further Agribusiness wellbeing suport, visit Rural Support Trust