Of all the effects that working from home during the Coronavirus crisis has had, employee mental health has perhaps been given the highest profile.
There have been countless studies indicating the detrimental effect to mental health of increased home working, but perhaps one of the most comprehensive is a study conducted by Qualtrics at the end of March / beginning of April.
The research included more than 2,000 employees drawn from Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and USA. The key finding was that 44% of those who are now working from home said that their mental health had declined since the COVID19 outbreak. Of these, sixty-six per cent said they were experiencing higher levels of stress since the outbreak. This was attributed to worries about contracting the virus, financial pressures, being stuck at home, worries about job security and feelings of loneliness / social isolation. The impact was felt across all employee level – from managers to administrators.
Deteriorating mental health affects people in many different ways. In the Qualtrics research, more than half of those who said their mental health had declined reported feeling more emotionally exhausted, sadder or more irritable. Social isolation was identified as one of the biggest mental health challenges.
All of this is affecting workers’ productivity: around a third reported having difficulty concentrating and a fifth said that it was taking them longer to carry out tasks. So it’s important that line managers take this matter seriously and introduce measures that improve rather than worsen employees’ mental health.
Keeping in touch and checking on employees’ health and wellbeing is one of the most important things that line managers can do. Yet Qualtrics found only 39% of respondents reported that their company had asked how they were. Of those who said their company had reached out, a direct call from their manager was cited as the most effective method.
Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees, wherever they are based. This includes when they are working from home and any mental health conditions that are triggered or exacerbated by the current coronavirus outbreak. Effective and sensitive communication with employees is key, which includes providing details of any mental health services that are available to them via their employee benefits offer.
As ever, if you would like to review your employee benefits offer, please do contact your Brunsdon Financial Consultant. They are all working from home throughout the current crisis and are contactable via email or their usual mobile phone number.
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