In the past year remote working, travel restrictions, furlough and pay cuts have changed the workplace for millions of people.
In our latest report – Coping with Covid – we asked more than 1,600 employees and HR leaders across England about their workplace health and wellbeing.
The questionnaire-based research was conducted by an independent agency between November 2020 and January 2021.
Key findings include:
- In 2020, days off due to mental health increased by 10%, resulting in a £1.3bn rise in cost for businesses.
- In total, these mental health days off cost businesses £14bn a year.
- A third of employees report poor mental health at their organisation.
- Employees report significantly lower levels of morale, wellbeing and productivity compared to HR leaders.
- One in three (36%) workers said their mental health affects their performance at work at least once a week.
- Three quarters (76%) of employees say their productivity has stagnated as pandemic pressures take a toll on mental health.
- 24% of the workforce is looking for extra wellbeing support from their employer in the coming months.
- Last year, the North of England saw 76% more mental health days off than the South.
- 81% of businesses say the pandemic has made them focus on wellbeing, with a 34% increase in average wellbeing spend per head.
As the impact of Covid continues to be felt, the report reveals various workplace issues and offers advice for HR leaders and people managers to help their people cope.
Mental health and productivity
With lockdowns, reduced social contact and a big shift in how we work, it’s unsurprising that the past year has seen a rise in mental health issues. In the report, we reveal the stats behind common workplace wellbeing issues from the employee’s perspective.
While companies have their own records of yearly absences, our research gets to grips with the deeper issues that prevent people from being their most happy and productive selves.
Alongside poor mental health, we found a worrying trend towards presenteeism – when employees are physically ‘at work’ but not fully functioning because of health reasons.
With one in three (36%) workers revealing their productivity has been negatively affected by mental health every week, how can business leaders ensure they are seeing the full picture?
Wellbeing is moving up the agenda
The promising news is that businesses that have already invested in wellbeing programmes are seeing the benefit, with 78% saying engagement is high, compared to 54% of those without a programme.
Dave Capper, our CEO, said: “As we know, Covid‐19 is having a huge impact on employees’ mental health, the scars from which may not be visible, let alone heal, for many years and have arguably changed our connection to work and colleagues permanently.
“The findings from our research paint a worrying picture for workplace productivity, with the economic impact of mental health clearly deepening. However, the way businesses are responding to this challenge gives us hope, as when we come out the other side of this pandemic, there will be a long‐term commitment to support employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.”
Effective employee support
As people continue to struggle with adapting to ongoing restrictions, our research highlights some of the important areas where staff are seeking more assistance from their employer.
We asked: Which, if any, of the following would you like from your employer in the next few months?
As well as these new findings, the Coping with Covid report offers wellbeing tips for team leaders, HR professionals and managers. Whether your team is remote, on-site or furloughed, we can help you support them.
Dave adds, “In 2021, companies will need to support wellbeing from the top down. They know that the talent in their teams is essential to recovery, and by taking steps to protect that talent mentally and physically, they will be ensuring a healthy future for all concerned.”