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.
It’s for this reason that I am thrilled to announce that we will be providing Kiwi small businesses with crucial mental health support through a new pilot programme called XAP.
XAP or the Xero Assistance Programme 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.
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. We have a collective responsibility and this is our opportunity to step up, not to solve the problems, but to help.
One small businesses in the pilot programme, cafe and artisan roastery, Red Rabbit is really supportive of our approach.
“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” – Saskia Kirkbeck and Steve Barret, owners.
According to 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 that this offering could potentially save lives and relationships by providing professional support to those facing personal and professional challenges”, says Julie Cressey, General Manager New Zealand at Benestar.
This is the first step we are taking to try and do something to help support the mental health of Kiwi small businesses. We are hugely excited about it and keep your eye out for more from us in this space – we haven’t finished yet!