A few months ago, most employees would have never heard of Covid-19 but now it is the biggest factor affecting their daily lives.
Benenden Health surveyed 2,455 respondents in April 2020 to understand how this is impacting employees and share the insight into the challenges Covid-19 poses to their daily life, work and mental wellbeing. Applying the findings of this to the wider UK population suggests that up to 23 million people in the UK could be struggling with poor mental health as a result of the current climate.
More than a third (35%) of respondents feel the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental wellbeing.
Even more worryingly, the pandemic is causing over one in 10 people to suffer from poor mental wellbeing for the first time. These people may be particularly vulnerable as they are unsure how to get help if their stress or anxiety is prolonged, and without the right support this could lead to long-term health issues.
The impact of balancing work and childcare
Having children at home was identified as a key stress factor. More than half (58%) of the respondents with children aged 0-16, whose mental wellbeing has been negatively affected, reported that balancing working from home and childcare was having an impact. Of these, a third (34%) are worried they are not performing to their best professional capacity.
A third of employees felt unsupported by their employer
Sadly, many employers do not seem to be doing enough to support their workforces at a time when they are most susceptible to poor mental wellbeing with over a third of individuals surveyed (38%) saying more support from their employer would help, in the form of: knowing their job is safe (22%), providing mental health or wellbeing support (8%), and being more understanding about the pressures of juggling childcare with working (8%)
Tips for supporting employees
While it is not surprising to see the effect the Covid-19 pandemic has had upon the mental health of the UK public, what is surprising is that businesses are not taking simple steps to help support their workforces and protect positive wellbeing at a time when many people are struggling.
There are a few simple steps employers can take to help support the mental wellbeing of workers, while inspiring greater loyalty, productivity, and motivation. These include: offering assurances (where possible); promoting open communication between senior management, line managers and employees; heightening manager awareness of compromised mental wellbeing; providing access to mental wellbeing support; clearing signposting to employee wellbeing services available; being mindful of different employees’ needs; offering flexibility where possible and keeping in mind and encourage a healthy work-life balance.
Helen Smith is chief commercial officer and business sponsor for wellbeing strategy at Benenden Health