The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected employee wellbeing, social interactions, and working environments. Many studies reported a rise in employee mental health issues during the pandemic due to social isolation, remote working, work burnout, and stress of handling multiple responsibilities.
The Integrated Benefits Institute compiled a report on the impact of COVID-19 on Employee Mental Wellbeing. The study was based on several demographic factors, access to healthcare, and work disruptions.
Here is a quick brief of the various outcomes of the IBI study on the impact of COVID-19 on Employee Mental Wellbeing.
Demographical Impact on Employee Mental Health
Many studies revealed that employees faced many mental health issues like depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental illnesses. Compared to 8.7% in 2019, 2021 saw 39.5% of US employees reported depression or anxiety symptoms. This was a 4X increase in the reported employee mental health issues during the pandemic.
Gender – According to the study, women were more likely to suffer from mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Compared to 34% of men, 43% of women were reported to suffer from these symptoms and illnesses.
Age – Although senior citizens were more likely to acquire the COVID-19 infection, the study showed that young adults between the age of 18 – 24 years old were highly likely to experience mental health issues. While 48.2% of 18 – 24 years showed high possibilities of acquiring mental health issues, it was followed by 44.4% of 25 – 34 years old group.
Region – Based on demographic studies, employees in the Southern and Western states of the United States reported a higher number of mental health issues compared to the Northern and Eastern states. More than 42.2% of employees in Southern and Western US reported symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Mental Wellness Impact Causing Work Disruptions
From working overtime to juggling multiple responsibilities, employees had to face many stressors since the pandemic started. These stressors affected their mental health and wellbeing, in turn affecting their performance at work and productivity.
Employees with work disruptions had a higher probability of experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms. While 49% were reported to be on leave, 38% were working currently. The changes in kids’ schooling routine also caused work disruptions. Almost 38% had their kids schooling from home, and 34% had kids who continued going to school. While 35% were already working remotely, 41% had to shift to teleworking since the pandemic started, and 36% continued to work in person. In addition to the work burnout and stress, transitioning to telework, child and elder care at home, and other domestic responsibilities had a coalesced negative impact on employee mental health. Especially women, accounting for 46%, reported higher mental health issues relative to 38% of men.
Impact on Access to Care
As hospitals imposed restrictions on social distancing and limited care facilities, many could not get timely healthcare. While many deferred their routine healthcare visits, many others had to wait until the consultants were available. Although virtual care and digital health solutions have been trending, many employees were still not getting the needed healthcare access. As the counseling needs and healthcare access were not available, it increased the mental health issues.
When ensured with proper and timely counseling, employees were less likely to face anxiety and depression symptoms. Studies showed that timely counseling and access to care reduced the anxiety and depression symptoms by 8% – 36%.
The pandemic outbreak has affected employee wellbeing, contributing to high-stress levels, in turn impacting workplace productivity and business growth. By considering the outcomes of this study and other employee wellbeing studies, employers can reconsider their company policies to ensure workplace wellness and employee engagement.