46% of Employees Have Struggled With Mental Health During Pandemic

46% of Employees Have Struggled With Mental Health During Pandemic

Younger workers impacted more, in part due to lower wages than older generations
A frustrated mother working from home

Financial stability plays an important role in a person’s well-being. So amid a public health crisis that has exacerbated those struggles for millions of Americans, more employees are experiencing mental health issues.

The 2020 Behavioral Health Impact Update from The Standard, a family of financial service companies with its headquarters in Portland, Ore., found that members of Generation Z and millennials workers are struggling with mental health issues at much higher rates since the coronavirus pandemic started than Gen X and baby boomer employees.

The Standard conducted the 2020 update to complement its 2019 Behavioral Health Impact Study that was released prior to the pandemic. Here’s what it learned.

Employees experiencing more mental health issues amid pandemic

The pandemic has put enormous stress on American employees as they attempt to navigate workplace changes, financial challenges and health concerns.

In fact, 46% of respondents cited mental health issues amid the pandemic, up from 39% before. Additionally, 11% cited serious mental illness, up from 7% pre-pandemic.

The associated challenges are also affecting employees’ ability to complete work, as 65% of respondents reported losing 10 hours or more of productivity a week due to mental health, versus 58% before the pandemic.

And colleagues are troubled by the changes they’re noticing. A recent survey from consulting company Morneau Shepell found that 39% of supervisors and 35% of employees have been concerned about a colleague's mental health during the pandemic.

Young adults’ financial instability can increase risk for mental health issues

The Standard’s survey also found that the stresses of living and working during a public health crisis are affecting younger employees disproportionately, with mental health issues impacting:

  • 71% of Gen Z workers
  • 59% of millennial workers
  • 36% of Gen X workers
  • 22% of baby boomer workers

The pandemic has made financial challenges that younger generations were already coping with — lower wages, less housing security and job stability, and more debt — more deeply felt. And because of this increased financial pressure, younger employees may feel like they have to work more to stay afloat.

Separate findings from a late 2020 survey conducted by staffing firm Robert Half showed that more workers were clocking time on the weekend, led by younger employees.

Three-fourths (75%) of respondents between the ages of 25 and 40 reported working on weekends, compared with 62% of those 41 and older. And while 56% of 25- to 40-year-olds worked more than eight hours a day, only a third of those 41 and older did so.

Methodology: The Standard and Versta Research first surveyed 2,004 full-time workers in the U.S. in September and October 2019. They followed that up with 1,425 workers in late 2020. All survey participants were between 18 and 69 years old.