The pandemic's continuing impact on mental health and burnout in the workplace

Employees have less energy for outside activities, less interest in socializing, more trouble sleeping, and turn to more alcohol or substance use, Limeade reports.

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Image: iStock/Tetiana Soares

Oct. 9 showed the highest number of US daily coronavirus cases (58,539) since Aug. 14 (59, 477), for an Oct. 12 total of 7.8 million US cases and 215,419 deaths. The fear of contracting deadly COVID-19 is real, and Americans are reminded through the daily practice of mask wearing, social distancing and frequent hand washing. Even more so, the virus has also had a major impact on the mental health and well-being of Americans, according to Limeade's continuation of its 2020 Employee Care Report, released today (Oct. 12).

Methodology

Limeade conducted a survey, what it refers to as a "quick poll" of 500 leaders at the manager or senior management level, and 500 nonmanagers, all of whom worked for companies with 500 or more employees.

Burnout

Managers are battling their own burnout, while also simultaneously dealing with their direct reports' burnouts.

  • 59% of managers experienced burnout since the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • 69% of all respondents say they're currently burned out.
  • 33.3% said one of the most stressful aspects of their job is the struggle with burnout.
  • 72% of managers and employees currently burned out is an increase from the number of employees (42%) who replied the same in Limeade's pre-pandemic employee care report. 
  • 59% of managers said their working hours have gone up since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • 84% of managers feel "somewhat" responsible for whether their direct report experiences burnout or not.
  • 38% of employees also listed "struggling with burnout" as one of the most stressful aspects of their job since the outbreak of COVID-19. 
  • 36% of managers admitted they don't have the proper training or resources to support their team.

Managers' responses to the query: "To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? 'I feel responsible for whether my direct reports experience burnout or not.'"

  • Strongly agree: 44%
  • Somewhat agree: 40%
  • Neither agree nor disagree: 7% 
  • Somewhat disagree: 5% 
  • Strongly disagree: 4%

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Disparate results, a gender divide 

Mental-health days: 60% of male managers felt "extremely comfortable" asking their employer for a well-being day off, while only 25% of female managers cited being "extremely comfortable." 

  • 11% of female managers described being "extremely positive" during the pandemic, yet the exact same response from male managers yielded 42%.
  • 33.3% of female managers feared losing their job during the pandemic, only 26% of male managers concurred. 
  • 73% of women said they feel equipped to support the emotional needs of their team compared to 94% of men.

Concerns for the economy

Despite struggles with personal issues during the pandemic, 64% of managers and employees aren't looking to switch jobs in the current economy, a dip from the 68% pre-pandemic figure. 

For both managers and employees, since COVID-19

  • 49% reported less energy for nonwork activities 
  • 42% have less interest in socializing with friends
  • 42% have more trouble sleeping at night 
  • 33% admit to drinking more alcohol or substance use than usual 
  • More than half listed "fear of getting sick" as the most stressful aspect of their job since the COVID-19 outbreak 
  • 66%  said they at least "sometimes" feel pressure to work when sick, slightly up from 63% in Limeade's previous employee care report 
  • 74% feel at least "somewhat pressured" to stay in their existing job due to economic uncertainty. 

Biggest stressors

The responses for the question "What are the most stressful aspects of your job since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic?" for both managers and employees:

  • 32% said childcare while working
  • 32% said fear of losing their job
  • 36% said they're unable to prioritize well-being (physical, emotional, financial & work)
  • 36% fear of getting sick
  • 54% are uneasy about returning to work in person
  • 25% struggle with burnout

Empathy

While there's been an unfortunate downward trend for both managers' and employees' well-being since the start of the pandemic, both managers and employees expressed the belief that their employers care about their well-being. 

  • 66% said well-being was at least "somewhat positive" since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
  • 91% of respondents pre-pandemic said their well-being was at least "somewhat positive," with 39% saying their well-being was extremely positive. 
  • 66% said they at least "somewhat agree" that their employer cares about their overall well-being. 
  • 72% said employers have engaged in initiatives or offered services to support employee well-being since the start of the pandemic.
  • 77% of respondents said they feel at least "somewhat comfortable" asking their employer for a day off to benefit their own well-being.

When asked "How comfortable do you feel asking your employer if you can take a day off for the benefit of your own well-being?" the responses were:

  • Extremely comfortable: 40%
  • Somewhat comfortable: 37%
  • Somewhat uncomfortable: 15%
  • Extremely uncomfortable: 8%

Support

Managers said they're ready to support the well-being of their direct reports, who, in turn, are looking for support from managers. 

  • 83% of managers said their direct reports requested at least a "little more" emotional support during the pandemic.
  • 44% of managers said they've had "much more support" requested. 
  • 35% of employees cited one of the most stressful aspects is the inability to prioritize well-being.
  • 44% of employees also said they've had more trouble sleeping at night.
  • 40% of employees said their well-being has been "somewhat negative" since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • 71% of managers said they at least "somewhat agree" that one-on-one meetings with their direct reports have focused more on discussing well-being at work. 
  • 73% of managers said their organization provided them with resources or training to support the emotional well-being of their team. 
  • 85% of Managers said they are "somewhat equipped" to support the emotional needs of their team. 

Managers and employees were both asked "To what extent do you feel equipped to support the emotional needs of your team?" and the responses were:

  • 36% Strongly equipped
  • 49% Somewhat equipped
  • 12% Somewhat unequipped
  • 3% Strongly unequipped

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