Support Employee’s Mental Health During a Pandemic



As I’ve often said here, the workplace is a microcosm of society. And just like we don’t know what the lasting effects of this pandemic will be on all of us, we also don’t know the long term effects on the workforce. But there are some things we do know for sure already, and it’s that the pandemic has certainly affected our collective mental health. Depending on whether your health, your family, your finances or your environment has been affected, no one has been spared some mental hardship.

I came across an interesting survey [1] about the mental health of the workforce during the pandemic. Of 1,000 participants, half were managers and half were frontline workers. The findings were not surprising and they validated trends that I suspected.

  • Feelings of burnout in employees have increased from 42 percent pre-pandemic to 72 percent during the pandemic.
  • 49 percent feel less energy for non-work activities and 42 percent have less interest in socializing with friends.
  • 42 percent have more trouble sleeping and 33 percent are using more alcohol than before (count me among them).
  • 55 percent of employees did not feel their employers cared about their well-being.

Specific to managers:

  • 59 percent reported having to work longer hours.
  • Male and female managers had widely different work-from-home experiences:

     o   More males felt “extremely comfortable” requesting a mental health day off 60 percent versus 25 percent of females.

     o   Female managers have a greater fear of losing their jobs 33 percent versus 20 percent of males.

Bottom line? Employees and managers are stressed out, burned out, and it’s affecting their well-being.

So what can we do to make the workplace more supportive of employee’s well-being during a pandemic?

  • Make sure everyone knows how to use the employee assistance programs and other resources available. Promote them, encourage use.
  • When possible, encourage workers to have a hybrid of work-in-person and work-at-home schedule. Other surveys found that this reduces stress and feelings of isolation.
  • Managers should feel free to set an example that it’s okay to take a mental health day by voicing when they do.

These are difficult times for everyone. And unlike other natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires which are localized geographically, this is something the whole country, the whole planet is experiencing. So take a deep breath, practice self-care and support those around you.

[1] "Workplaces in Crisis: Employee Care Still Missing The Mark," 

Originally published on the HR Box blog.

The Psychhub Mental Health & Wellness in the Workplace Initiative serves to engage HR professionals and people managers in education and training opportunities to build skills in leading mental health and wellness changes in the workplace, to help end the stigma of mental health in professional settings, and to ensure a culture of acceptance and assistance inculcated into the ethos of each workplace. Learn more.



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