My small business will weather the crisis

A survey of business leaders reveals that while the health crisis has increased the risk of burn-out, it has paradoxically strengthened psychological traits that are crucial to the health of leaders and their companies. A process conceptualized by Olivier Torrès under the term "salutopreunarial capital" or "decree of the will".

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It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that companies have borne the brunt of the health crisis. However, the consequences are not necessarily what was expected, as demonstrated by Olivier Torrès*, an economist specializing in the health of business leaders and president of theAmarok observatory, in a study of 1,925 business leaders during the two months of confinement.

Impediment burn-out

The first finding, seemingly paradoxical in a period marked by a cessation of activity, is the increased risk of burn-out. During the course of the study, 34.5% of those surveyed were at risk, compared with 17.5% in 2019, and 9% were already judged to be in the severe phase. "We're facing a tornado risk the likes of which we've never measured," says the economist, "the only figures I have above are for farmers."

A phenomenon that raises questions, since the study also reveals an improvement in the physical health of contractors who were able to take advantage of the confinement to slow down and rest. Mental health and sleep quality, on the other hand, deteriorated sharply, in line with the growing sense of powerlessness and being trapped. " The determinants have changed, and we've gone from a burnout of exhaustion to a burnout of impediment," explains Olivier Torrès.

A change that highlights the "central, not to say existential, value" of work for entrepreneurs who, during these two months, were more worried about filing for bankruptcy than about being seriously affected by Covid-19. However, the researcher is not alarmist: "This figure is completely linked to containment. The feeling of powerlessness will fade as the economy recovers.

The "salutopreunarial" concept

This economic recovery is aided by the second, more positive finding of the study. While optimism is at half-mast, responses to questions on resilience, self-efficacy, the ability to adapt and take action in line with oneself, and the willingness to give meaning to one's actions and accept the consequences, show a clear increase in these traits among entrepreneurs during the period of confinement.

These variables respond to two essential functions for business leaders: "problem solving" and "sense making", and constitute what I call salutopreunarial capital. It defines a kind of decree of the will. The researcher was able to measure that people with a high level of this capital are not only healthier, but also have the best entrepreneurial results. A study that once again demonstrates the fundamental role that psychology can play on the economic stage, and proves the famous maxim: will is power!

*MRM (UM, University of Perpignan VIa Domitia, Montpellier Business School)