Over a third of respondents say they are working later than before the lockdown - survey

Employers could see increases in burnout and decreases in mental wellbeing due to employees’ working from home habits during lockdown, according to research by QBE.

The survey of UK employees working from home with no change to their contracted hours following the Covid-19 government lockdown finds that younger employees, between 18-34, appeared to be struggling the most with finding a work/life balance under lockdown, with this age group reporting an average of 3 extra hours of work per week, and 17% saying they were working 10 hours or more extra each week.

Younger employees were also most likely to admit that they felt under pressure to deliver more because they were worried about losing their jobs (36%) and the impact this current period could have on their careers (42%).

The survey highlights that many employees are finding it difficult to switch off outside working hours (23%) and reported feeling anxious (49%) and overly tired (44%) working from home currently.

Over a third of respondents (35%) say they are working later than before the lockdown and almost half (44%) said that they were finding it difficult to separate work and home life, while 34% stated that the current situation of working from home was having a negative impact on their mental health.

Pinar Karabulut, psychologist and rehabilitation consultant at QBE Business Insurance said: “The current pandemic is testing every business and their leaders. As many UK employees adapt to this new way of working, the lines between home and work life appear to be blurring. While it is encouraging to see that the majority of people (63%) say they are enjoying working from home, our research did identify some worrying trends. Some people may feel obligated to answer emails outside work hours and work longer hours, but this does risk burnout and it’s important to switch off at the end of the day to avoid a negative impact on mental health.”

Other key findings from the research included:

  • Nearly half (48%) of respondents said the lack of in person contact with colleagues was making them feel low.
  • 58% of those with children said they were finding it difficult to balance childcare and work.
  • Workers reported difficulties feeling motivated (40%), difficulty concentrating (37%) and a decrease in productivity (30%).

Pinar continued: “We recommend employers check in with their employees regularly to see how they are feeling and coping. Employees should be encouraged to stick to normal working hours to reduce the risk of burning out and to take regular breaks. It is also important to encourage regular communication such as video chats between managers and team members to make sure employees don’t feel too isolated.”

Steps to support the mental wellbeing of employees

1. Identify: Employers should identify any changes in the motivation and mood of their team members by implementing regular check-ins and setting up times for frank conversations that can lead to increased engagement and act as a gateway to providing support.

2. Communicate: Staff must be kept fully up-to-date with the employee wellbeing benefits currently in place. These benefits should include several wellbeing aids and solutions, from informative webinars, to an Employee Assistance Program, to health support through private medical insurance.

3. Inform: Mental wellbeing and resilience can be strengthened through increased knowledge of how to practically carry out these concepts, and employers should consider arranging regular wellbeing webinars focusing on sleep hygiene, exercise, relaxation, and maintaining social connections in the digital world. Collective engagement in health-related behaviours can improve motivation and social connectedness.