Wellbeing | HR deemed last resort for anxious employees

HR deemed last resort for anxious employees

The coronavirus pandemic has fuelled feelings of uncertainty among professionals, as many grow anxious over the future of their jobs and whether an organisation will stay afloat amid the crisis.

While some employees would consider heading to the HR team to resolve any feelings of anxiousness, for others the department would be deemed their last resort.

This is according to research published by the ADP Research Institute. In its The Workforce View 2020 – Volume One pre-COVID-19, which surveyed workers between October 2019 and early January 2020, ADP explored how employees feel about the issues currently surrounding the workplace.

It also revealed that 68% of employees feel stressed at work, but that they would only use the HR department as a last resort for discussing their anxieties.

The report highlighted increased concerns over workers’ health, as six in ten respondents say that they now feel stressed at least once a week, while only one in ten say they never feel stressed at work.

This is heightened in Europe and North America, while younger workers are also more likely to suffer from stress than their older colleagues, with 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they feel stressed at least once per week, compared to only 50% of those over the age of 45.

Despite these worrying high figures of stress among staff, just 22% of those surveyed claimed that they would feel comfortable telling their manager or supervisor about a mental health problem or concern, with 17% adding they wouldn’t feel comfortable telling anybody at work.

A key reason for these feelings of stress could be due to the long hours employees are currently working. For example, the research indicated that three-quarters of respondents work unpaid overtime each week, with over a third working between six and ten hours.

Elsewhere over a fifth admitted to working over 11 hours, and five per cent stated that they work in excess of 20 hours.

ADP shared that HR should be aware of the increased levels of stress among workforces, particularly as many employees begin to return back to the office following the pandemic.

“HR teams must step in to ensure that employees know where they can raise these sensitive issues, confidentially and without fear of reprisals, to ensure they are given the help and support they need,” the study read.

“They should also prepare for the younger generation of workers entering the workforce being far more open to discussing such matters,” it added.

Commenting on the research, Annabel Jones, HR Director at ADP UK, said: “Despite several notable attempts to tackle the taboos, there is still a long way to go to open up the conversation. Though talking about mental health remains difficult, either because people worry that it might harm their careers or due to cultural sensitivities, HR teams can play a major role in breaking down barriers so that staff feel supported to come forward,” as was reported by FENews.

“As many employees are still working from home because of coronavirus – or working harder than ever in roles that may put them at greater risk of catching it – the mental health stakes are raised even more. Aside from the physical impacts of COVID-19, employers need to bear in mind its potential psychological impacts too.

“That will be challenging, especially for large organisations where staff are working remotely or in cultures where discussing mental health is less socially acceptable. However, it’s an issue HR will have to confront, both now and when workers return to the workplace, which will create another stressful upheaval to reacclimatise to.”

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