The theme of World Mental Health Day 2022 was to ‘make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’ and, in response to this, Wrkit organised a talk focused on a review of research conducted throughout the pandemic. There were 214 registered for this 30-minute talk, showing a real interest and appetite for understanding mental health and ‘where are we now’, which was the title of the talk.
In the webinar, Wrkit reviewed a variety of research including the Global Working From Home survey (GWFH) conducted by Wrkit and research partners Truthsaysers which was Published in March 2021, and ran from Aug 2020 to March 2021 – covering 9 months of the Pandemic. The survey results were truly global, reflecting the challenges that employees were dealing with while working from home during that first initial lockdown.
The research was built on the 6 wellbeing pillars of Mind, Work, Life, Active, Food and Sleep and was designed to not only reflect the traditional cognitive survey responses in what employees thought about WFH, but also how they felt about working from home during the pandemic.
The top scoring positive reactions to WFH were:
While the most negative reactions to WFH at that time were:
During the session we also conducted a poll with attendees to get a snapshot picture of where things are at now, post pandemic and 114 attendees answered all 4 questions. The results were:
The results show that for the majority of attendees their exercise has either stayed the same, improved or greatly improved – 73, while roughly a third has reduced by 35.
Attendees here acknowledged that in general their sleep had either remained the same or improved – 77, while 29 had reduced post pandemic, again showing close to 1/3.
Attendees again acknowledged that in general their diet had remained the same or improved – 74, with 34 saying that their diet has been affected.
To note here, in answering the question on diet during the pandemic through the GWFH survey, participants cognitively answered that their diet was not greatly unchanged, however there was a significant cognitive dissonance appearing with regard to how they felt about their diet. This highlighted that in actual fact, participants were more inclined to answer the question on diet more positively than was the case. The large cognitive dissonance indicated that their diet was in fact being impacted negatively during the pandemic.
The final question was the most significant question asked during the webinar, and the results show a clear divide in the answers.
The results here are close but, for the first time, clearly show a negative result – 62/ 48 towards attendees mental health not improving.
A larger review of data
Prior to the world mental health day talk, the team at Wrkit spent some time reviewing data generated from their wellbeing app POWR – Positive Occupational Wellbeing Resources – looking back over a number of years’ worth of data and covering a significant part of the pandemic timeline.
The sample assessment date reviewed was:
- 115 companies
- 28117 user sample
- 6 wellbeing pillars
- Dec 2020 – Sept 2022
- Benchmark 70
A significant result to note was that the team discovered that during this pandemic period, there were over double the amount of people accessing the wellbeing app for this cohort of 115 companies. The results highlighted a number of ongoing issues for employees post pandemic, while also showing improvement in a number of areas.
The Work pillar in POWR has a number of questionnaires for staff to help rate wellbeing in their work environment, and a significantly positive increase has been seen in two key areas as shown above. This indicates a positive reaction staff are having to their workplace during and post pandemic, which is most obviously recognised in relation to people they work with. This is an important result as it highlights the work that employers have put into supporting staff during the pandemic and keeping colleagues connected.
Another important result is seen in how staff have rated their sleep.
Due to the reduction in commuting during and post pandemic, staff have responded by highlighting, as they did in the global WFH survey, that their sleep habits have changed for the positive and they are appreciating having more time in the morning and commuting less.
A more recent trend, that is growing post pandemic is that, although staff are appreciating the reduced commuting time, their quality of sleep is not necessarily increasing. Post pandemic, some of the challenges that staff are facing that may lead to this lower score are the levels of work stress and demands that are challenging staff wellbeing and risking burnout.
The most significant negative results were seen in relation to the answers to the Mind questionnaires. Throughout the pandemic the scores in the Mind pillar were most noticeably lower than the bench mark score of 70, however the clear trend that is being shown over this research timeframe is that staff are rating themselves as ‘feeling overwhelmed’, while scores for being ‘stuck in a rut’ have fared even worse still.
This reflects the poll scores for mental health conducted during the webinar with 56.4% saying that their mental health has not improved post pandemic.
The large amount of data being reviewed post pandemic through the POWR wellbeing app, allows organisations to get a good understanding of the areas their staff are improving in and areas where they are struggling. It is clear that employees are facing a variety of different challenges now in a post pandemic world and the support landscape is shifting again.
Each area that POWR signposts for support can be explored with staff and the need for new recommendations for support are necessary, allowing for organisations to target interventions and monitor their success over time with new hybrid and remote working challenges.
Jason Brennan, Director of Wellbeing & Leadership @ Wrkit