Workers Say Job Pressures Take Bigger Mental Toll than COVID-19 Fears

Work pressures have been so intense during the pandemic that burnout is creating more stress than fears of contracting COVID-19, according to a new survey by The Conference Board.

Half the 1,800+ respondents to the survey said so, and 57% of workers surveyed say their mental health has degraded since the start of the pandemic. The survey also noted that women are disproportionately suffering from work-related pressures – at more than 1.5 times the rate of their male counterparts – due likely to the combined pressure of work and home life.

The survey was released just before World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10. It examines the declining mental health of workers and what business efforts work best at addressing the crisis. Some additional findings include:

  • Substantially more women than men report mental health as their biggest concern, with women at 82% and men at 68%.
  • Blurred boundaries between work and personal life impacted 44% of respondents.
  • Thirty-seven percent of survey participants say fear of exposing loved ones to COVID-19 substantially impacted their mental health.
  • Most respondents (75%) feel their supervisor genuinely cares about their well-being, but only 55% think their supervisor would change their workload to address their mental health concerns.
  • More than half of respondents (54%) feel that their organization’s initiatives to support their well-being were either not helpful (18%) or slightly helpful at best (36%).
  • Of those for whom it was available, formal policies that support work/life integration were considered the most effective, with half of respondents reporting them helpful.
  • Nearly 70% of respondents feel that flexible work policies, such as remote work and flexible hours, have supported their mental health to some degree.

“If business leaders hope to cultivate a second-to-none workforce, especially in this tight labor market, improving the employee experience by providing flexibility must play a key role in their business strategy,” says Rebecca Ray, Ph.D., executive vice president of human capital at The Conference Board.