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‘Work’ drops down employees’ priority list as mental health problems rise

Almost half of all UK employees admit professional work has dropped down their to-do list since the pandemic began, according to a survey by training and coaching experts PUSH Mind and Body

The study also reveals people are feeling less industrious and more inert due to a combination of more frequent remote working and worsening mental health. 

PUSH polled a total of 1,360 C-suite leaders, middle managers and junior employees at businesses across the UK. The survey found that while 48% said work was extremely important to them before the pandemic, the reverse is now true – with 44% agreeing that working from home has made work go down in their list of priorities. 

What’s more, a substantial number of employees appear to be suffering from rising mental health issues. More than three-quarters of managers polled (78%) reveal their team has faced stress or burnout since the onset of COVID-19. A further 43% indicate rising anxiety among employees. 

As a result of the stress and anxiety caused by both the pandemic itself and the  new working structures that arose, 56% now claim that self-care is most important to them, a figure that has more than doubled since the pandemic began. 

Rising mental health issues and a marked decline in the importance of work is now spilling over into poor organisational effectiveness, as managers concede this is starting to take a hit. 

Nearly 1 in 2 managers (47%) say their team has faced either a “communication breakdown” or “worsening relationships” post-COVID-19, while almost a fifth (19%) now admit their organisation is not operating as effectively as it did pre-pandemic.  

Despite the purported benefits that come from remote and hybrid working, it seems as though organisations are failing to equip employees with the right behaviours and skill sets to thrive in this new environment.  

Employees are tacit in their agreement – as 76% say hybrid working would be better if companies offered “advice on how to switch off”, “burnout support” and “strategies on how to deal with loneliness”. 

Cate Murden, Founder and CEO at PUSH Mind and Body, said: “Mental health issues are still being ignored in the workplace – and these findings show employees are deprioritising work as a result. That leads to a drop in efficiency that is completely disastrous for both employers and our economy, on top of being an awful situation for the employees themselves.  

“The severity of these problems can’t be underestimated by business and if we’re to have any chance of battling our way through the current economic situation they can’t be ignored. In the run up to World Mental Health Day organisations must acknowledge the widespread trauma the pandemic caused in our workforce. Seismic changes have left employees with mental and emotional baggage to deal with, far less opportunity for physical interaction with colleagues and lacking the skills they need to have a chance of succeeding in remote or hybrid work situations. 

“Our findings go a long way towards explaining issues like the quiet quitting trend. Immediate action is needed to upskill leaders, middle managers and wider employees with new behaviours and mindsets so they can thrive in this new-look world of work.” 

You can download the full report here