Pandemic leads to greater stress and anxiety among employees

25 Jan 2021
Stressed mum working on a laptop with crying toddler behind her

It's almost a year since Covid-19 turned all our lives upside down, changing working patterns and forcing millions of people to work from home for the first time.

Now, a new international survey reveals how the disruption has impacted employees' mental health and wellbeing, with stress, anxiety and loneliness increasing among working people.

More than half of working adults have experienced anxiety relating to their job security and stress due to changes in their working patterns, the World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey found.

For some people, working from home does have upsides such as a reduced commute and more personal time. But alongside the benefits are challenges including family pressures, finding a work-life balance and feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Almost half of all those surveyed admitted that they felt lonely or isolated when working from home, and more than 40% said their productivity fell and it was hard to get work done at home.

More than half of the people surveyed between 20 November and 4 December 2020 worked from home, while 32% worked longer hours, 32% worked shorter hours, 30% took a leave of absence and 15% left their job.

Others reported falling productivity, working very early in the morning or very late at night and difficulties in getting work done due to inadequate home office set-up.

The worst effects were reported by people aged under 35, business owners, women and lower-income workers.

Covid-19 is likely to leave a legacy of mental health problems, according to work by the University of Sydney and the World Economic Forum, which explored how past economic crises had a 'scarring' effect on the mental health of young people. However, it suggested that the right interventions and investments could help mitigate the impact.

Of the interventions simulated, employment programmes were the single most effective strategy for mitigating the adverse mental-health impacts of the crisis.

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are employee benefit programmes designed to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance, health and wellbeing. They often include short-term counselling, practical advice and referral services.

Commenting on the findings, UK Employee Assistance Programme Association (EAPA) chair Eugene Farrell said: "It's no surprise that such a large proportion of employees have encountered serious feelings of stress and anxiety -- many of them perhaps for the first time in their lives. We've been used to reasonable levels of job security, or at least a clear sense of our options, of having a level of control over our working life.

"The reality is that the complexity of the pandemic situation means that no single initiative from HR, no increased support from line managers, is enough to secure wellbeing. Which is why external support from a service like an EAP, and access to professionals able to talk through tangles of work/home issues, has become such an essential for now and the coming years of recovery."

If you're looking to support your employees with an assistance programme or other wellbeing initiatives, Fidelius can help. We create employee benefits solutions that are tailored to your precise needs and help you deliver your strategic HR and business objectives.

Contact us today to learn more.