The pandemic has brought about great turbulence in the labor market and significant impact on the psychology of employees. The fear of illness from COVID-19, the mixed feelings regarding teleworking and the redefinition of the traditional relationship between employer and employee, are some of the challenges that employees have to face in the post-pandemic era.
In order to obtain a clearer picture of the impact of the changes brought by the pandemic on the mental and physical well-being of employees worldwide, Adecco Group conducted a research of 14,800 employees, between the ages of 18 and 60, from 25 countries (including Greece) in relation to this issue, in the context of “Resetting Normal: Defining a New Era of Work”. The survey respondents worked at least 20 hours a week, mostly in office workers’ positions and they were asked to work remotely during the pandemic.
The survey showed that in the past 12 months, 38% of workers worldwide have suffered burnout and 32% said their mental health has been significantly burdened. The intensity of the phenomenon of burnout highlights the inability of management to identify the problem early and support their employees. Typically, more than half of managers (51%) admitted that they had difficulty identifying and dealing with burnout and mental well-being issues of their subordinates.
The survey highlighted other interesting conclusions related to burnout: 82% of workers stated that during the past 12 months, during which they worked remotely either universally or from time to time, they were just as productive or even more productive than before the pandemic. However, 2/3 of respondents said they worked more than 40 hours a week – an increase of 14% over the corresponding survey in 2020. Most working hours may have the desired effect in relation to the quantitative targets, but they place a significant burden on employees and their mental health.
Research on remote work has shown that during the pandemic, many workers have found it difficult to get their leave. It is a fact, however, that disconnection from work for some time is – apart from the right of employees – necessary for their mental and physical well-being. At the same time, research has shown that as employees felt comfortable with video conferencing apps, they filled their day with successive remote meetings. The limited disconnection and the inability of organizations to help their people manage the daily volume of work inevitably leads to exhaustion, the well-known “burnout”.
Currently, many companies are in the process of designing or implementing return-to-office strategies. According to LHH, for some companies the return to the office will not bring many changes compared to the pre-Covid era, while others may take a more hybrid approach. The conclusion of the Adecco Group survey was clear: employees want greater flexibility in their daily working lives and active participation in the formulation of the strategy that their companies will implement in relation to the working model they will adopt. Imposing an office return plan that doesn’t take employees’ needs into account will only add stress to them and likely lead to departures by depriving organizations of competent and talented executives.
“Although burnout is not a new phenomenon, Covid-19 has intensified the problem, highlighting it as one of the challenges that need to be addressed immediately. The balance between work and personal life is very important for health and organizations should ensure that their people have the proper support to achieve it. Moreover, workers who suffer from burnout have demonstrably reduced productivity and impaired health, which leads to an increase in sick leave. Finally, very often talents are driven to seek other professional options in order to find the desired balance. What is certain is that policies that focus on the mental health of employees are not only for the benefit of employees but also of organizations.”, said Katerina Vourlogianni, Talent Development Director of LHH.