Earlier this week, UK employees were told once again to work from home where possible, due to the arrival of the Omicron variant.

As restrictions come back into place and anxieties elevate, employers should keep in mind the impact that this will have on their staff.

According to research by LifeWorks, nearly one-third of UK employees reported an increase in stress at work in 2021 compared to 2020, with 12 per cent considering resigning due to feeling unappreciated and unsupported.

Why is this happening, and what can be done to tackle it?

The effects of digital burnout

As working from home continues to be the norm, many employees have revealed that they feel obliged to work longer hours, with the average working day in the UK increasing by almost 25 per cent.

Consequently, 85 per cent of workers claimed that they have become disengaged during the pandemic.

As well as this, absences caused by poor mental health rose by 10 per cent last year, costing UK companies a staggering £14 billion. 

In fact, mental health issues were the number one reason for lost working time in all UK employment sectors.

This “digital fatigue” has become a problem for many workers, with many being unable to switch off and unblur the lines of work and home life.

Research into working from home and mental health, published by NatCen, found that remote workers who live alone reported a considerable rise in mental distress at the start of the pandemic.

Increasing workplace concerns

This increase in mental distress is not exclusive for those working remotely. For employees still physically attending their workplace, there may be fears surrounding contracting the virus, and putting themselves, their families and friends at risk.

Additionally, it’s important to note that some workers may be suffering bereavements at a higher rate than usual, as well as juggling financial concerns, childcare and worries over job security.

During such a generally stressful and mentally-taxing time, the faltering of motivation and productivity at work isn’t surprising and must be carefully managed.

What can employers do?

Establishing a positive workplace culture is a necessity, and there are many ways to achieve this.

A few simple yet effective steps that employers can take include:

  • Offering flexibility and accommodating your employees’ needs
  • Giving your employees a voice and listening to their concerns
  • Building connections with team members and praising/rewarding hard work
  • Administering regular check-ins and reviews.

Having suitable mental health resources in place for those both at work and at home is crucial, especially as uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the pandemic continues.

Your employees need your support now more than ever.

Need our help? Let’s talk.