The COVID-19 pandemic has recorded an all-time low for employee mental health, and employers are facing many crises to address the new challenges.
A previous Total Brain Mental Health Survey showed that there was a 14% rise in stress in June 2020 and overall anxiety issues increased to 41%. Another similar study showed a 48% increase in depression risk between November and December 2020. Owing to these mental health conditions and stress, there was a 62% fall in employee productivity and focus rates, since the pandemic.
Although there has been positive news about the COVID-19 vaccination, a 9% rise in employee negativity has been recorded in December 2020, since the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately, it wiped out 75% of the positive gains that were made since May 2020.
New research shows an increase in anxiety, stress, and uncertainties, leading to behavioral health issues. Here are some outcomes of the study made by The Standard.
Impact On Employee Behavioral Health
The Standard had conducted 2 separate studies on employee behavioral health – one before the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019, and a follow-up in late 2020 amidst the pandemic. The study was conducted on almost 1,425 U.S employees.
According to the study, while 39% of American employees were suffering from mental health issues before the pandemic, the number rose to almost half (49%) of the American employee population during the pandemic. Also, 7% had serious mental health issues in the 2019 study, and it increased to 11% in the pandemic.
Impact On Employee Productivity
The social isolation and stress caused by the pandemic has not only affected the mental health of many across the world but has also triggered unhealthy lifestyle habits, including substance abuse. This has clearly affected employee productivity now than it did before the pandemic started.
While 47% of employees lost almost 10+ hours of weekly productivity before the pandemic owing to substance abuse, the number skyrocketed to 57% after the pandemic started. The study showed that 36% of employees agreed that substance abuse or some kind of addiction has affected their mental health since the pandemic has begun.
Likewise, while 58% of employees lost almost 10+ hours of weekly productivity due to mental health issues before the pandemic, the number increased to 65% after the pandemic started.
Impact On Various Employee Generations
The COVID-19 has affected the current working generations in many ways. While its impact on the financial wellness has been evident, studies also show that the mental health of Gen Z and Millennials has been highly affected. According to the study, although a majority of employees from all age generations were affected by the pandemic, the Millennials and Generation Z were the most affected ones. Most of these young generation employees were already doused in stressors like –
- Low job security
- Lower income levels
- More debt
- Lesser housing stability
And the pandemic added to these compound stressors of these generations.
While only 22% of Baby Boomers and 36% of Gen X employees reported mental health issues, a higher number was recorded for the Millennials (59%) and Gen Z (71%).
How Are Employers Responding?
Even before the pandemic started, only a few employers were credited for being pro-employee, and for putting in real efforts towards employee wellness. However, there has been a positive trend since the pandemic started, and employers now understand the inter-connection between employee wellness and workplace productivity. Employees in the study acknowledged the efforts put by their employers, and they agreed their organizations were doing better now for employee wellness compared to the pre-pandemic times.
Percentage of employees who agreed their employers are doing better after the pandemic than before the pandemic –
- 28% – Improved access to mental health services and support
- 34% – Providing workplace flexibility
- 28% – Creating a better workplace culture
Employers can offer a lot of support for employee wellness and better workplace culture, reflecting higher productivity, business growth, and many other workplace benefits. Offering employee wellness programs are a great way of ensuring employee engagement, while encouraging workers to gain holistic health. The corporate programs can be supported by the latest corporate wellness technology incorporated with a robust wellness platform to offer employee wellbeing modules to promote many employee benefits, including –
- Mental health
- Physical health
- Healthy lifestyle
- Flexible workplace cultures