Study reveals pandemic’s toll on employees’ mental health in the workplace

Coronavirus

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Over the last year, the pandemic has revealed many employees are feeling some degree of burnout and a lack of mental health resources from their employers.

That is according to Mental Health of America’s “Mind the Workplace” study, which measured employees’ feelings about their financial security, burnout, supervisor support, workplace stress and mental illness over the past year.

Among the biggest takeaways from the study was that nearly 83% of those surveyed felt some level of emotional drain from work.

Percentage of respondents who agree/disagree that they feel emotionally drained at work. Source: Mental Health America 2021 “Mind the Workplace” study

The study also looked at which industries saw the highest levels of burnout and workplace stress. Coincidentally, employees that reported higher levels of mental distress worked at industries that were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, such as retail, manufacturing and food and beverage.

According to Mental Health America of Northeast Indiana Executive Director Lisa Smith, many employers within those industries have a smaller number of employees, meaning they could have had more of a shoulder to load as businesses were forced to adapt this past year.

“I think it speaks to businesses who are trying to do more with less resources, and so you’re going to see burnout at the front line level,” Smith said.

One of the other main takeaways from this study is that more than half of respondents do not believe their supervisor provides enough emotional support to handle stress. Smith believes the stress from this pandemic has resulted in more people being open about their mental health. She encourages employers and supervisors to create a more supportive work environment.

Percentage of respondents who agree/disagree that their supervisor provides emotional support to help manage their stress. Source: Mental Health America 2021 “Mind the Workplace” study

The key ingredient to building that culture? Empathy.

“I think the narrative has really shifted toward, ‘How can companies transform their culture?’ and re-engage employees,” Smith said. “So it’s creating that culture where people feel like they belong in that new setting.”

The study from Mental Health America also includes recommendations to employers and supervisors such as being flexible and helping employees who feel overwhelmed or exhibit signs of burnout.

Smith adds that employees will be more productive and successful if they feel like they can approach their supervisor with topics related to mental health.

Read the full “Mind the Workplace” study from Mental Health America.

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