How has Covid affected our mental health and job performance?

A workingmums.co.uk poll shows that the cumulative impact of Covid has had a damaging impact on mental health and work performance.

woman stressed at desk

 

Nearly three quarters of mums asked whether Covid-19 has affected their mental health and job performance said yes, according to a workingmums.co.uk poll.

Twenty-seven per cent feel more anxious and tired as a result; 7% are finding it harder to focus at work; 10% are worried about safety at work or work-related events; and 29% feel anxious, find it hard to focus and are worried about their safety. Just 27% say the pandemic has not affected their mental health and job performance.

One woman stated: “I desperately want to get back to normal and have been made anxious by the most recent panic in the media about Omicron and the impact of restrictions on the economy and inflation.”

Mental health has been a big focus for employers during the pandemic, with many of the most progressive employers being all too aware of the impact and instituting mental health champions or first aiders, regular check-ins, no meetings days, extra days off, access to employee assistance programmes or counselling and more.

McDonald’s who won workingmums.co.uk Top Employer Award for being Best for Mental Health last year with the judges saying they were very impressed by the broad and inclusive range of support McDonald’s offered in such a challenging environment for retail. They said the company had gone out of its way to support staff and franchisees and to make sure they felt safe to return to work. Regional well being and culture manager Emma Burgess told workingmums.co.uk last year:“Time and again mental health came up as an issue for our business managers. We employ a lot of young people and our business managers were having to deal with a lot of situations where they needed support.”

She added: “I have had so many challenging conversations with people feeling anxious and scared, worrying about their health, their family, isolation and more and this just amplified the need for people to talk to each other and to remove the stigma around mental health. The first thing you need to do is to start a conversation and ask people how they are.”

Previous surveys by workingmums.co.uk show that many mums found the second lockdown early last year more challenging that the first, even though they had more experience of how to deal with it. The cumulative effect of all the changes and ups and downs, social isolation, bereavement and more have left many feeling exhausted.

Yet many employers have not fully recognised that impact, with a recent Acas study finding over a third of British employers have not spoken to their staff about their mental health and wellbeing over the past year.

HR experts says mental health and wellbeing generally, often exacerbated by anxiety over finances, is something that employers will need to take more seriously. They say that it makes sense in terms of building a resilient workforce that can weather the kind of sudden fluctuations that are likely to be a characteristic of how we work in the next years.

Job overload is another issue affecting mental wellbeing. With large numbers of vacancies in some sectors, many are stretched to the max and employers are trying to look at ways to deal with workload, for example, through job redesign.Gail Kinman, Visiting Professor of Occupational Health Psychology at Birkbeck College, University of London, said there is evidence that working hours have increased during the pandemic and work has become more intense.  She told workingmums.co.uk: “There is overwhelming evidence that our long-hours culture is not sustainable and people who put more hours are typically less, rather than more, productive.”



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