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Work is Becoming Worse for Employee Wellbeing

Earlier this month, CIPD’s latest Good Work Index report was released and the results show that job quality has deteriorated over the last two years. Aimed at providing an annual snapshot of job quality in the UK, the survey of more than 6,000 workers found the number of people saying work has a positive impact on their mental health had fallen from 44% to 35%.

This survey was taken before Covid-19 hit and a subsequent survey conducted in April found that, unsurprisingly, the pandemic has had an even worse impact on people’s mental and physical health. Four in ten workers said their mental and physical health had worsened since the pandemic. CIPD’s post-Covid data shows that key concerns include work–life balance, wellbeing and job security. 21% of people surveyed were furloughed and half of these said they did not know when they’d return to work. Of those still working, 61% were working remotely all the time and 39% were going to their normal workplace for some or all the time.

As lockdown restrictions are easing, many organisations are now focusing on getting staff back into the office but this is making people more anxious. CIPD’s survey found that 44% are anxious about returning to work, rising to 62% for those with an underlying health condition. 53% with increased caring responsibilities are anxious about returning. 31% of respondents felt anxious about their commute, rising to 52% for those in London.

In response to their findings, CIPD is recommending that employers promote healthy working practices, for example:  

  • Ask about workloads and ensure employees are not under excessive pressure 
  • Ensure managers are well trained in having supportive, sensitive discussions on wellbeing – and that they recognise the importance of regular communication in a world of remote working 
  • Promote existing health and wellbeing benefits, such as their counselling helpline 
  • Give workers more autonomy or control over how, when and where they work, to help them manage work pressures.  

CIPD will be surveying UK workers on a monthly basis until September 2020 but they have suggested that the results will get worse. Jonny Gifford, Senior Research Adviser at the CIPD, said: ‘Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, work was becoming worse for our health. This is the complete opposite of how it should be – work can and should have a positive impact on people’s lives … As the full scale of the economic crisis unfolds, the outlook looks even bleaker. We’ll likely see employers trying to do more with less, which will only increase people’s workload and the pressure they are already under. Many people will also be worried about losing their job or living on a reduced income’. 

Find out more about the CIPD Good Work Index here.

Author: Melina Sophocleous, Housing Technology

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