New research by LinkedIn in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation finds that more than half (54%) of HR managers think mental health problems such as anxiety, burnout, isolation and loneliness have become more prevalent amongst employees in their organisations due to the impact of coronavirus on the way we work, and 56% fear lower team morale.
Results show that four in five (79%) think that the extended period of remote working has encouraged a culture dubbed ‘ePresenteeism’, meaning employees feel that they should be online and available as much as possible even if out of hours, or if they are unwell. Three quarters (75%) feel that ‘ePresenteeism’ has the potential to negatively impact employees’ mental health by causing additional stress, burnout and anxiety.
LinkedIn has partnered with The Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness of the issue and encourage people to reach out for support, this resulted from increased conversations seen amongst its members about mental health and working from home.
Chris O’Sullivan from the Mental Health Foundation urges people to take action now to avoid burnout: “Burnout, which is caused by chronic workplace stress, is a modern phenomenon that poses a huge risk to our physical and mental health. People working from home during these unprecedented times are at a greater risk of burnout due to the high stakes environment we find ourselves in both globally and personally. We cannot have the same business-as-usual expectations on ourselves or of our employees – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to work full time, look after children at home and keep up our other responsibilities.
Employees feel overworked and overwhelmed
LinkedIn also surveyed office workers on their response to working from home since COVID-19. The majority (86%) say remote working is having a negative impact on their health as they feel the need to prove to bosses that they are working hard and deserve to keep their jobs. On average, those that are working from home are clocking up an extra 28 hours of monthly overtime since the lockdown – equating to nearly four days’ work.
As a result, nearly a third (31%) say they are now sleeping badly, 30% have experienced rising anxiety and 24% admit their mental health is suffering.
But there is also an upside reported
But despite the struggles of working from home full time, two in five (44%) have reported that they feel more connected to their family. More than half (54%) can also see the benefits that come with working from home and would like their employer to give them the option to do so more often when lockdown is over.
Employers are already taking action
Organisations are already taking steps to combat mental health and the side effects of ‘ePresenteeism’ occuring during the extended working from home period caused by COVID-19:
- 34% have introduced additional private mental health support (e.g. private healthcare)
- 44% have introduced professional mental health support
- 33% have enforced working hours or banned out of hours emails
- 36% have introduced additional mental or physical training sessions (e.g. yoga, meditation)
- 33% have introduced additional holiday, sabbaticals and flexible working hours
Promisingly, more than half (57%) of HR managers say that companies and senior leaders take employee mental health seriously. And encouragingly more leaders are speaking out and sharing their own struggles, which helps normalise the topic and break barriers for other employees to open up about their experiences.
Senior HR Director at LinkedIn, Lisa Finnegan, says: “This topic is at the heart of the surge in conversations on LinkedIn at the moment – which have increased 55% amongst connections from March 2019 to March 2020. I’ve shared my own experiences with burnout and mental health on LinkedIn – both as a manager and employee – and encourage others to do the same to open up the conversation and help others going through the same thing to feel less alone.”
About the author
Heather Kelly is the founder of Aura Wellbeing, a consultancy providing workplace wellness strategy, coaching and training services to employers. She’s also Content Director for Make a Difference Summit US and Online Editor for Make a Difference News. Heather’s worked for the UK’s largest mental health charity, Mind where she led the development and operation of the Workplace Wellbeing Index. In her earlier career she worked as a photographer, a journalist and a senior manager in the insurance industry. She’s passionate about inspiring more empathy and awareness in workplaces about mental health and in her spare time Heather teaches photography to teens as part of a charity projects in London and Spain, she’s an avid runner and experimental chef for recipes promoting healthy minds.