Even as Australia is lifting restrictions, employers have a larger challenge to confront over the coming months.
More than 25 per cent of people working from home are overwhelmed by loneliness, while over 50 per cent of those economically impacted due to reduced hours or loss of a job is stressed about job security, finds a new study by Engaged Strategy.
The economic uncertainty in Australia and globally is expected to last several months more with studies pointing to the possibility of a second wave of infection, which will greatly impact the employment industry.
Multiple forces of uncertainty such as job insecurity, fear of catching the virus, lack of social interaction and even loneliness have over half of Australia’s work force struggling with stress and anxiety.
70 per cent of employees working from home are missing social interaction and a quarter of them are overwhelmed by loneliness.
This is worse among Gen Z where at least 88 per cent of those working from home are missing the social buzz, while at least half of them are overwhelmed by loneliness.
This study of over 400 Australian workers either employed until or after the Covid-19 crisis found that one-third of Australia’s workforce is concerned about job security, irrespective of their employment status.
“Financial crisis coupled with fear and insufficient organisational support, especially towards the 30 per cent of economically impacted workers, has indirectly affected the Australian workforce’s emotional wellbeing.
“But the fear of contracting the virus even in situations where the staff is required to return to the workplace is posing new challenges for employers,” said Christopher Roberts, Managing Director, Engaged Strategy.
“Our nation-wide pulse survey assessed respondents on seven major parameters to identify the impact of the restrictions on their stress levels and anxiety. Across the board, one-third of the workforce fears to get infected, which will massively impact people’s willingness to return to work.
“ As restrictions are being lifted now, it is important for organisations to factor in their employees’ emotional readiness to return to work,” Mr. Roberts said.
The emotional strain of salary reductions, reduced work hours, lay-offs, emotional support received from employers, concerns around job security and fear of contracting the virus were few of the several aspects analysed in this survey. “People always remember a brand for what it does for them during tough times. Half the people that have been economically impacted said they did not feel supported by their organisation.
“But what is even more pronounced is that 25 per cent of employees who were not economically impacted also did not feel supported by their organisation and are now fraught with anxiety. They probably have been scarred not just by the lockdown restrictions, but also by job insecurity,” Mr. Roberts said.
Analysing the survey data, Mr. Roberts explained that unless organisations understand the pulse of their staff’s emotional wellbeing and develop an effective structure to help alleviate their employees’ fear of the crisis and health, productivity is bound to witness a downturn.
“The reason for the trigger of emotional anxiety may go away with the restrictions being lifted, but the scars of this lockdown will have residual effects which can affect employee productivity,” Mr. Roberts said.
Engaged Strategy, a Queensland-based boutique consulting firm that focusses on helping businesses grow by developing fresh customer, marketing, cultural and organisational strategies, conducted this survey between April 14th and April 28th, 2020.