61% of Employees Feel Anxious, Distracted or Stressed Due to Coronavirus


It’s possibly no surprise, but still useful to see in black and white.

Nearly two thirds of employees said their most common feelings amidst the coronavirus pandemic are anxiety, stress or distraction, with job security being the dominant reason for the emotion. This is according to research from employee engagement survey provider, Inpulse.

The survey also showed that, of the negative and positive emotions employees could choose, just seven percent selected ‘focused’ as a top emotion. Only 14% felt ‘committed’.

This is particularly poignant because, until this point, ‘committed’ represented 21% of all emotions chosen in engagement surveys undertaken by Inpulse clients in 2020. This highlights a 7% decrease since the coronavirus pandemic.

“Anxious”, “stressed” and “distracted” have now become dominant emotions, with ‘anxious’ being 28%, ‘distracted’ 22% and ‘stressed’ 11%.

The survey asked employees to pick no more than two of their most dominant feelings at work, choosing between committed, stressed, focused, valued, curious, anxious, distracted, indifferent and enthusiastic.

On a positive note, 76% of respondents said they have confidence in their business leaders to make the right decisions, with 43% strongly agreeing and 33% agreeing.

Eighty-two percent of employees also said that coronavirus has had an impact on company priorities.

Matt Stephens, CEO of Inpulse, said:

“We have never seen these levels of anxiety and stress in ‘normal’ times, it is unprecedented and shows the impact COVID-19 has had on employees’ wellbeing. We typically see high levels of commitment and enthusiasm around employee jobs and their organisations. Sadly, people are now consumed by the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic – and it’s massively impacting their work. This is a catastrophic shift in the emotional landscape of the workplace, and it’s only happened in a matter of days.

“Through the survey, they’ve told us they are anxious about job security. One said, enlighteningly, that they are stressed about having to choose between being committed to their work or being safe. On top of this some are consumed by their concerns, media updates and Government announcements. Others are concerned by poor communications from their employer.

“It’s now possible for employers to pulse check employees’ emotional wellbeing so they track, measure and help any that are feeling emotional distress through these difficult days. Now is the time for businesses to act and show that they care.”

Employer advice:

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  • People respond to uncertain times in different ways. Some can’t focus, are distracted and overwhelmed, some go into survival mode while some excel in a new challenge. It’s important for leaders and managers to understand how their people are feeling, stay in regular communication, know how people will react and be able to combat and cater for different responses. This requires employers to be agile and put their people first to benefit the company; people will be more productive and engaged if they aren’t anxious, stressed or distracted.


  • Clear, transparent communications from senior leaders discussing the short-term future of the business are vital. If the senior leaders don’t know the answers, it is better to be honest. Good communications reduce anxiety.


  • Enable line managers to support their people emotionally by helping them manage their mindsets and identify who needs particular attention or may be struggling. This can help reduce stress. Many are not used to remote working, working in isolation or working with distractions at home.


  • Providing short, focused objectives to their people and setting clear expectations help teams stay focused and avoid being distracted – regular, small soundbite communications are best to help people digest information clearly.

The Inpulse Survey had 120 responses and took place between 13th and 17th of March 2020.

About the Author

Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Mad World News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times.


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