In a survey of over 1,000 UK workers, it was found that feeling stressed out and anxious was the most common problem for almost two-thirds of people surveyed.
New research by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, has found that almost four in five workers (79 per cent) currently have health and wellbeing concerns.
Of this number, the most prevalent problem was stress and anxiety – with almost two-thirds (62 per cent) struggling with this.
As mental health has become a pressing concern for organisations to tackle, the body has stated that many of these issues may have come about due to homeworking and the lack of clear boundaries between work and life.
When asked why they were feeling stressed or anxious, over a fifth said that this was a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic (21 per cent), indicating companies will have to instate rigorous health and safety checks to alleviate this fear when offices re-open.
A further 12 per cent stated their stress and anxiety was tied to work.
There were also an array of reasons which were indirect effects of the pandemic including stress and anxiety induced due to finance problems which occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (10 per cent).
An additional 10 per cent of respondents reported struggling due to issues within their home life. A small minority indicated that they were facing stress and anxiety related to finances more generally (8 per cent).
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, warned that this rise in mental health issues could hamper employees’ ability to work productively:
Stress and anxiety can seriously hinder our ability to function in everyday situations let alone in a demanding and often pressurised work environment.
When employees work from home, it’s easy for them to switch on a laptop to ‘stay on top of their inbox’ or ‘get ahead for the next day’ but, because there are only so many hours in the day, the time for family, home admin/chores, relaxation activities or sleep are reduced as a result.
This can cause stress and anxiety in other areas of their lives. Similarly, being ill previously meant resting at home but employees now have the ability to log on from their sick bed, despite whether that is good for their health or not.
However, outside of this, employees also had wellbeing concerns that were tied to their physical health. Around one in seven confessed their general lack of fitness was their primary concern whilst 10 per cent struggled with sleep.
As such, the GRiD has encouraged employers to support workers across a number of areas including medical, legal, financial, wellness, relationship, child and eldercare issues.
Ms. Moxham continued by explaining how minor health problems could soon evolve into “bigger burdens”:
Unfortunately, the pandemic has meant that many employees’ lives are more complex and they have much more on their plate from both a personal and professional point of view. By using the support embedded in to employee benefits, employees will be able to help resolve their concerns efficiently because they’re being guided by experts in their field.
*The research was undertaken by Opinium during January 2021 among 1,216 UK employees.
Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.