Working from home and mental health

There’s no denying that the Coronavirus has rocked the world in the past few months. Many of the UK workforce were placed on furlough by their employers as businesses sought to limit outgoings to help cashflow, with the aims of saving their business. Many other workers, such as those usually accustomed to working in an office, were able to continue their work at home.

Whilst there are many factors that have been encountered as people adjusted to working from home, which led to the question; what impact would working from home have on a worker’s mental health?

We commissioned two surveys with leading global public opinion and data company, YouGov, to understand the impact that the change moving from an office environment to working from home could have on the public’s mental health.

We initially ran the survey in May, when the country first went into lockdown and working from home was new to many in the UK; we then ran the survey again to see whether there had been any change in how people felt that working from home and employer support had an impact on mental health…

Has working from home had a positive or negative impact on mental health?

For the most part, it appears that people actually believe that working from home has had a positive impact on their mental health – and even more so once they’d been able to make adjustments since lockdown was first announced;

DID YOU KNOW: Around a quarter of people surveyed felt that their mental health had not been impacted at all when working from home (26% in May, 25% in July)

Are employers doing enough to care for employee mental health?

Employee mental health

Increasingly, employers are under pressure to supply mental health support to their employees. With the Mental Health Act ensuring that employers are unable to discriminate against employees with either a diagnosed mental illness, or those who experience poor mental health sporadically, it’s more important than ever that businesses prove that they do their best to care for the people who work for them.

We wanted to know whether, before and during the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK, whether employees still working felt that their employers do enough to care for their mental health; and 72% of people we surveyed felt that yas, their employers do enough to care for their mental health – and exactly the same percentage of respondents agreed with this statement when asked again in July.

Other findings included:

Employee satisfaction by region

Employees working in Yorkshire and the Humber were more likely to agree that their employer did enough to care for their mental health (87%) when asked in May, but appeared to be 10% less satisfied with their employers when asked again in July.

In the second run, it was people working from home in the South West of England who were most likely to agree that their employers were doing enough to care for their mental health, with 82% of survey respondents in the region selecting this option.

What are businesses doing to support the mental health of their employees?

Businesses by law are not legally obligated to provide mental healthcare support for their employees – however, many are opting to include some aspect of mental healthcare as a standard offering to their employees.

We were interested to know what exactly employees felt the businesses they worked for had done to look after their mental health. We asked the question “which, if any, of the following has the business you work for done to support your mental wellbeing whilst you have been working from home?” with answer options of;

SOURCE:Did you know? Mental Health First Aiders are trained to identify colleagues who might be struggling with their mental health, and are able to supply basic advice and support.

Employee mental health

Do workplaces encourage discussions about mental health?

In the May survey, 34% of people surveyed said that their employer encouraged discussions around mental health, and the July run saw a positive increase in the option as 39% of respondents selected the option.

However, women were less likely to agree that their employers encouraged discussions about mental health in the workplace on both occasions. 29% in May and 38% in July of female respondents agreed with this statement, whereas men selected this option 37% and 40% in May and June respectively.

DISCLAIMER: ABOUT THE SURVEY

This survey asked respondents to state whether they were:

A) working but not working from home – 18% in May vs 36% in July
B) furloughed – 32% in May vs 5% in July
C) working from home – 45% in May vs 56 in July

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