Wellbeing and Mental Health

Workers say they want even more well-being support now than during the pandemic. This is why

A man sits on a sofa, visibly stressed. Here's why workers want more well-being support now compared to during the pandemic.

Since the pandemic, more and more workers are giving greater thought to their mental health. Image: Unsplash/Nik Shuliahin

Victoria Masterson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • Well-being has become even more important to workers than it was during the pandemic, a new survey finds.
  • About 45% of workers say their employers don’t support their well-being – but 74% of companies say ensuring employee well-being is important to them.
  • Spending time with friends and family is how most workers like to disconnect from work.

Well-being was a top priority for workers and employers during the pandemic. But the drop in COVID-19 cases this year has not caused well-being to drop down the agenda – in fact, it’s become even more important for people than it was during lockdowns, a new report finds.

Workers globally are “reconsidering their roles in light of their well-being and stress levels”, says Switzerland-based human resources organization Adecco in its Disconnect to Reconnect Survey.

The report asked workers and companies in 16 countries about well-being, about how ways of working have evolved since the pandemic and about how workers switch off from work.

Well-being matters to stressed-out workers

A graphic showing how the pandemic has influencer workload and stress levels.
More than 80% of workers surveyed say their stress levels are the same or higher than before the pandemic. Image: Adecco

A quarter of workers feel more stressed at work since the pandemic, the survey finds, while 56% feel about the same level of stress. Almost a third think their workload has increased, while about half think it has stayed the same.

This means that under a fifth of workers say they’re less stressed at work and have less work to do.

Adecco says 23% of the workers they surveyed plan to quit their jobs in the next two years, with more-stressed workers more likely to leave.

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Workers feel their well-being isn’t supported

Almost half of the workers surveyed – 45% – feel their employers either “don’t really” or “never” support their well-being.

Yet almost three-quarters of employers – 74% – say the well-being of their workers is “very important” or “extremely important”.

A graphic showing how worker and company perceptions of well-being support provided differ.
Almost half of workers feel employers don’t support their well-being. Image: Adecco

This means either companies aren’t offering enough well-being support to their workers, or workers aren’t aware of what support they can access, Adecco suggests.

This is how workers disconnect

Workers globally are “exhausted” and “burned out”, Adecco says, so being able to disconnect from work is important for well-being.

Across the 16 countries in the survey, most workers say spending time with friends and family is how they disconnect from work.

A graphic comparing how different countries use different methods for disconnecting.
Spending time with friends and family is how workers in most countries say they disconnect from work. Image: Adecco

In Canada, exercising is how most workers say they switch off from work. Exercising is also a favoured way of disconnecting for about a third of workers in India, Italy, Spain, Latin America and Switzerland.

In the United Kingdom and United States, watching television ranks top – along with spending time with friends and family – as a way for workers to spend their downtime.

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What well-being support do workers want?

Burned-out workers want more support, including sports and recreational activities and mental health support, Adecco finds. But only a third of the companies in the survey say they offer these extra types of benefits.

A graphic showing how different companies offer different well-being initiatives.
There are lots of ways companies can help their workers disconnect, but only about a third of companies offer these, Adecco says. Image: Adecco

Workers also say having a flexible work location and schedule are the most important factors in helping them unplug from work and reduce their stress levels.

Almost three-quarters of companies say they have changed policies and working environments to try and boost employee engagement and satisfaction, and to reduce staff turnover.

Creating ‘mentally healthier’ workplaces

COVID-19 and the new world of work created by home-working means employee well-being and mental health have become even more critical, the World Economic Forum says.

Its Mental Health in the Workplace project is a collaboration with partners including the World Health Organization and health research organization the Wellcome Trust to create “mentally healthier” workplaces across industries, regions and sectors.

Companies must create cultures and workplaces where “employees can thrive physically and mentally”, the Forum says.

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