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Nearly 4 out of 10 employees' mental health impacted negatively during the pandemic
Published:  Oct 22, 2020 7:38 AM
Updated: 7:39 AM

  • 37% of workers say their mental health and wellbeing has been negatively impacted during the pandemic
  • 42% of those affected said their employer did not provide them with support

Nearly four out of ten professionals have said their mental health and wellbeing has been impacted negatively during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent global survey by recruiting experts Hays.

Hays surveyed over 1,800 professionals ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October to learn more about their experiences relating to mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic and whether they had received any support from their employer.

Commenting on the results, Sandra Henke, Group Head of People & Culture at Hays, said “It is concerning that 37% of professionals feel their mental health and wellbeing has been impacted negatively during this time. Just as concerning is that 42% of those affected have said they haven’t received any support from the employer. The health and safety of all workers needs to be at the forefront for all employers and there is a duty of care to ensure their workforce receives the necessary support. This is even more important when large parts of the workforce have been working remotely and may not have been in such close contact with colleagues or managers”.

In Malaysia, the National Health and Morbidity Survey (2019) noted that the national prevalence of depression among Malaysian adults is at 2.3 per cent, which accounts for roughly half a million individuals. Incidences of depression have also been exacerbated by the pandemic, with the government psychosocial hotline receiving close to 12,000 calls and counting since the outbreak. On World Mental Health Day this year, Malaysia’s health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah called for more education to help identify and destigmatise mental health issues in the country.

Addressing the rise in mental health issues from the pandemic, Sandra commented, “Across the globe many people have had to deal with very different challenges during the pandemic, ranging from trying to juggle commitments outside of their work, to feeling isolated to even dealing with the death of a loved one. Each person’s experience of the crisis has been unique to them and when the visibility of workers isn’t as great as it once was, it can be difficult for employers to identify who needs help. However, there are steps that organisations can take to ensure they are doing their upmost to protect the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. This is more than just being a duty of care issue, this is about ensuring businesses truly support people during what has been a difficult time for everyone”.

She goes on to share five ways organisations can ensure their employees’ wellbeing remains at the centre of its people strategy.

  1. Staying in contact
    Sandra said, “Make sure you are continuing to have face-to-face time with your team, even if that means using video conferencing technology in place of meeting in person. It’s important to remember to make sure those communication channels are open, so employees are able to voice their concerns and anxieties, this is especially important when you aren’t seeing members of your team on a regular basis. Also, use this opportunity to not only talk about work, take the time to check in on your team members and ask questions about their experiences and how they are managing”.

  2. Look out for the signs
    Sandra offered this advice, “Managers must educate themselves on how to spot the signs of stress in their teams, especially during this extremely difficult time. The signs to look out for are stress or frustration with their job, emotionally distancing themselves from others, or feeling drained and lacking energy – these will be harder to spot as people are working remotely”.

  3. Make yourself available
    Sandra commented, “You need to let your team know that their mental health and wellbeing matters and that you are available should they need you. Being a compassionate leader will go some way to ensuring your team remain healthy and that they know they can approach you if they do have any issues. Educate yourself of the support that is available to them within your business and make sure your team knows where to go should they need it”.

  4. Treat people as individuals
    Sandra said, “Employees will be returning to the office, or have already done so, with different experiences and potentially different viewpoints, it’s important that leaders remember this and don’t approach the health and wellbeing of their team as a one size fits all mentality. It is now more important than ever to show empathy and work to understand how each team member has coped with the challenges and to individually support them as needed”.

As the pandemic continues there is the potential for professionals’ mental health and wellbeing to be further impacted negatively, meaning organisations must ensure they are doing their upmost to support their staff during these difficult times.

Respondents were asked a qualifying question of whether they are currently working, and responses were collected between 31 July and 22 September on