The pandemic is causing health and financial concerns, and many in the workplace aren't just feeling the impact themselves, but are also seeing it take a toll on others.
More than a third of Americans (35%) have experienced concern about a co-worker's mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey from human resources consulting company Morneau Shepell.
Managers, too, are taking note of pressures faced by staff members. Their response — or lack thereof — could have broad consequences.
Challenging time in the workplace
The pandemic has transformed work life over the past year. For example, many office employees have been working from home for months, and some are experiencing tremendous personal pressures in addition to their job duties.
In some cases, working parents may have to balance professional life and help their children with virtual learning. In fact, a recent report by the think tank Catalyst found that 57% of working parents were afraid the pandemic's impact on their personal lives could hurt them at work.
Despite all of the additional pressures, some employees may be forgoing the self-care that they need. According to the Morneau Shepell survey, nearly half of respondents (48%) said they did not use all of their vacation time in 2020 — with only 28% women using their entire allotment, compared with 37% of men — while 19% said their jobs didn’t include paid vacation in the first place.
Fortunately, many supervisors are taking notice of these pressures on their staff. According to the survey:
- 39% of supervisors said they are concerned about the mental health of employees
- 21% of supervisors said their employees have been less productive during the pandemic than in 2019
Companies' pandemic response under scrutiny
The way a boss responds to their employees' needs during the pandemic can have far-reaching implications. In fact, a recently released survey by human resources firm SilkRoad Technology found that 2 in 5 workers planned to resign because of the way their employer handled the COVID-19 crisis.
The Morneau Shepell survey also suggests that customers are paying attention to how the companies they shop from are treating their workers during the pandemic. In fact more than half of respondents (54%) said companies’ treatment of their workforce during the pandemic would affect the way they as consumers thought of those companies.
Likewise, 60% of respondents said their views on a particular company were influenced by the way it treated customers during the coronavirus crisis as well.
And the coronavirus pandemic isn’t the only current issue shoppers are judging companies on. For instance, in the wake of social justice protests last year, 42% of respondents said their interaction with companies and brands was influenced by their response to social justice issues.
Younger consumers are particularly keyed in on this. Of those under 40 years old, 54% said attitudes toward social justice impacted their opinion of businesses, while just 35% of those 40 and over said the same.
Methodology: Morneau Shepell surveyed 5,000 Americans who are currently employed or were employed within six months prior to the survey. The survey was taken between Nov. 20-30, 2020.