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May 24, 2021

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Employee wellbeing and the pandemic – global study reveals the true impact on mental health

People working from home during the pandemic have experienced higher levels of stress and are withholding mental health conditions from their employer, for fear of a negative impact on career progression, according to a global health and safety report by Lloyd’s Register (LR).

LR Global HS report cover imageThe global safety assurance specialist surveyed 5,500 individuals across 11 countries to understand the impact of changing working conditions caused by COVID-19. The report finds that 69% of employees report higher levels of work-related stress while working from home, driven by increased workloads and changes to working patterns.

According to the report, employees have major concerns disclosing mental health conditions. Worldwide, 48% felt it could have a negative impact on career progression, with 19% unsure. Incredibly, one in four of those surveyed said that nothing had been done by their employer to provide additional support in terms of mental health and wellbeing. Perhaps most concerning of all, 58% had felt pressured to return to the office, despite not feeling ready.

Despite these results, working from home has led to an improved work-life balance for more than half (52%) of the respondents. However, 22% felt they are working longer hours than before, 17% feel more isolated from their colleagues and 9% are more anxious.

The data shows that UK employees were notably reluctant to share mental health concerns – nearly one in four feels unable to talk to anyone at work about their concerns – with only France recording a higher figure. Sharing concerns with colleagues at work seems particularly difficult for UK employees – just one in three felt they would be able to talk to a peer at the same level.

The data suggests that a focus on physical safety may have come at the cost of overlooking mental wellbeing.

Over half (52%) of those surveyed felt that their employer places more emphasis on physical safety. However, organisations do appear to be communicating effectively. More than 80% of those asked said they felt ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ informed by their employer, while 74% said they had been directly consulted when changes to the way they work had been implemented.

James Pomeroy, Director of Quality, Health, Environment and Safety at Lloyd’s Register added: “Many organisations pride themselves on inclusivity and diversity. Now is the time to include mental health as part of this and embracing inclusivity in this way will help revolutionise the way we view wellbeing in the workplace. This is critical because the pandemic has demonstrated that the health of the workforce is the health of a business.”

Last month, James explained how results from the global safety assurance specialists’ latest report shines a light on the true impact working from home has had on staff mental health.

The health and safety at work report offers insight, guidance and advice to businesses, with OH&S management system standard ISO 45001 as well as guidance documents ISO/FDIS 45003 and ISO/PAS 45005 cited as examples in the report to help organisations support staff and promote effective management of OH&S in the workplace.

For more information, download a copy of LR’s global health and safety report and UK-specific summary.

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