Wellbeing falls due to work overload and Covid anxiety

A new report from Aviva shows people are neglecting their physical health due to work overload.

Stressed women at laptop

 

More employees are neglecting their physical health due to work as daily anxiety and dissatisfaction about work life balance increase and despite employees feeling their employer is more concerned about their wellbeing, according to a new report on the Covid pandemic.

The report  Thriving in the Age of Ambiguity: building resilience for the new realities of work  by Aviva is part of a series during the pandemic and shows that, for many, the increasingly ambiguous relationship between employers and employees has become a major source of unease and uncertainty.

It shows the number of employees who are completely satisfied with life has dropped by 10 percentage points, falling from 67% in February 2020 to 57% in March 2021.

Anxiety on the increase

At the same time, the number of employees who report feeling anxious from day-to-day has increased from 22% in August 2020 to 27% in March 2021.

This is particularly evident among female workers, says Aviva, who have borne the brunt of caring responsibilities during the pandemic.

Aviva’s report suggests more employees are neglecting their physical health due to being too busy at work – up five percentage points to 58% compared with 53% in February 2020 – while a vast majority (86%) state that they are checking emails outside of working hours.

However, more employees (61%) now agree their employer is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing, compared with 57% before the pandemic stuck. At the same time, employees are now more likely to agree their employer understands what motivates them – 44% vs. 36% in August.

Retirement worries

Last year, Aviva found the boundaries between work and retirement were blurring with employees becoming increasingly concerned about retirement, including how much they will need to save and when they can retire.

The current survey finds fewer employees agree they are going to have to work longer and longer until retirement – 70% in March 2021, vs. 78% in August. However, far fewer know how much they need to save for later life. In March this year, almost half (48%) said they don’t know how much to save, vs 39% before the pandemic. Women are significantly more likely to state that they don’t know how much they need to save (57% in March 2021, vs. 41% of males).

Age of ambiguity

Debbie Bullock, Wellbeing lead at Aviva, said: “We are living through an ‘Age of Ambiguity’ that is impacting society and workplaces across the UK. Elements of our lives which were previously certain are overlapping and changing beyond recognition. The concept of ‘work’ itself is becoming increasingly fluid as the world evolves faster than ever before.

“Our research reveals unpredictable futures are placing a significant strain on the balance between work and home life, with more employees reporting feelings of anxiety and dissatisfaction, as well as concern for their future due to a lack of clarity about their retirement prospects.

“We believe employers can play a major role in guiding their employees through this ambiguity. By promoting healthier habits and incremental shifts in attitudes and actions, we can empower people to make informed, balanced and positive career and lifestyle choices. However, one size does not fit all when it comes to employee support, and it’s vital businesses speak directly to peers to uncover and address individual concerns by offering tailored support.”

Gig working

Meanwhile, in another court case on gig working, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has lost its appeal against a ruling that takeaway delivery company Deliveroo is entitled to consider its riders as self-employed. The Court of Appeal confirmed previous court decisions that go against the claim by the union that Deliveroo riders should be classified as “workers,” with the right to unionise and bargain collectively for better terms and conditions. Deliveroo’s shares jumped by more than 9% on news of the decision, adding nearly £400m to its stock market value, as investors responded to the verdict, which will allow the company to avoid giving riders benefits they would be entitled to as employees.

In other news, the TUC, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Confederation of British Industry wrote to  Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove calling for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, saying data collection would help tackle racial inequalities at work in the same way that gender pay gap reporting has done for gender inequality.



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