There is no doubt that COVID-19 poses a significant risk to both our physical and mental health. Not only are we worried for the wellbeing of those closest to us, but we must also deal with the changing economic landscape and constant threat of redundancy.
With this in mind, we surveyed 1,300 UK professionals in an effort to ascertain exactly how the global pandemic has impacted the wellbeing of the nation’s workforce. This article will take a look at the results of that survey and offer employers helpful advice on how to support staff during this trying time.
The study found that four in 10 (42.9%) UK professionals felt their mental health was worse than it was a year ago. What’s more, female workers appear to be suffering more than their male counterparts (46.9% of women vs. 39.9% of men).
In an effort to identify the cause for this decline, we asked respondents to name the concerns that had the biggest effect on their mental wellbeing. The results show that the following issues were the most detrimental:
- Worrying about not being able to find a job (57.3%)
- Experiencing financial difficulties (50.2%)
- Worrying about the health and wellbeing of friends and/or family members (36.3%)
- Worrying about the spread of COVID-19 (26%)
- Not being able to leave home during lockdown (19.2%)
- Worrying about losing my current job (18.7%)
- Having a poor work-life balance (18.6%)
- Feeling isolated when working from home (11.4%)
Interestingly, these worries remain the same across all genders and age groups with the exception of workers aged 35-44 years old. These professionals felt that experiencing financial difficulties (54.5%) had the biggest impact on their mental health.
The research went on to discuss how COVID-19 had impacted work-life balance. This reveals that a whopping 43.7% of employees feel their work-life balance is worse than a year ago; with a further 61% stating working from home as the main reason for this.
What’s more, the data shows that professionals aged 25-34 years old are the most likely to blame home working (50%). This is followed by 35-54-year-old’s (40%) and 55-64-year-old’s (39.6%).
In addition to this, nearly three-quarters (72.9%) of the individuals surveyed admitted that they would look for a new job in order to secure a better work-life balance.
But what does this mean for employers?
Well, these results show that professionals across the country will need extra support in order to weather this storm. As a business owner, you have a duty of care to your staff and should do what you can to support the mental health of your team members.
If you’re not sure how to do this, we’ve got a few ideas to get you started…
Communicate with your staff
An easy way to help your team is to keep them apprised of all changes to the business. As you adapt to the current economic climate, you may have to make changes that will affect your employees. While this is unavoidable, it’s important to understand that uncertainty can be a trigger for those who suffer from anxiety.
This will enable your team to feel more in control of the situation and raise any concerns they might have with a manager.
This one may seem simple, but scheduling regular catch-ups with your direct reports can make a huge difference. These meetings offer a platform for team members to share any concerns about their mental health and ask for support.
While working from home is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, many professionals feel isolated as a result. These catch-ups can help stave off loneliness, therefore improving the mental wellbeing of your team.
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)
If you’re a larger business, you might want to consider investing in an EAP. These programmes can vary between provider, but they act as a port in the storm for colleagues who are struggling.
Many will offer counselling, impartial advice, an employee helpline and access to online resources as part of the programme.
If you’re a smaller business, this may be out of your reach. However, it’s vital that you still offer support to your team. For example, you could direct staff to the mental health charity, Mind. There are tons of useful assets on their website that specifically deal with mental wellbeing in the workplace. You should also share the details of any local services that may be of assistance.
Support the mental health of your staff
It’s unlikely that these concerns will go away anytime soon. As such, you should put strategies in place to protect your staff as soon as possible. It may not be easy, but encouraging mental wellbeing is vital in any workplace.
If you fail to offer this support, your workforce will be less productive and you could lose top employees.