The great COVID divide

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May 04 2020 by Nicola Hunt Print This Article

As the COVID lockdown continues, a new UK survey finds a-near equal split between positive and negative employee emotions, but with big rises in anxiety and stress and growing fears about finances.

A survey of 2,364 people by employee engagement and wellbeing survey consultancy, Inpulse, found that more than half (55%) feel hopeful, committed, focused, motivated, happy or valued. Employees said they are focusing on giving their best to their company in this period, they have more time and space to learn new skills and they are enjoying the contribution they’re making. The two highest positive emotions are hopeful and committed, showing at 14% and 12% respectively.

On the other hand, 45% said they feel anxious, stressed, isolated, bored, unappreciated or sad, with fears about job security, workload and poor general wellbeing being widespread. Feelings of anxiety and stress account for 30% of the responses, while many also cite the pressures of juggling parenting, teaching and working. The most commonly-mentioned negative emotions - anxiety and stress - also showed a 50% month-on-month rise, the survey found.

Half of those surveyed said that there are days when they aren’t able to stop or control worrying or that they worry all the time, and almost seven out of 10 (68%) have had at least several days to everyday of feeling depressed or hopeless. Forty percent also said they felt nervous, anxious or on edge some or all of the time.

The survey also clearly showed that two other high negative scores are undoubtedly driving negative emotions - financial and physical wellbeing. In response to the question, “I feel secure about my financial situation”, 20% felt highly negative. A similar proportion (19%) were highly negative about the question, “at present, I lead a physically healthy lifestyle (a balance of a good diet, regular exercise and 7-8 hours sleep)”.

According to Matt Stephens, CEO of Inpulse, “The pandemic has not only isolated us, it’s divided us between those employees who are adjusting to our new circumstances and those who are finding it difficult to manage with very understandable concerns.”

When it comes to supportive wellbeing programmes, companies must ensure they don’t overwhelm employees with content but focus on information relevant to individuals’ specific needs that can help support their resilience and help them manage their emotions and thoughts,” he added. “How leaders respond to this modern-day crisis is also determining the welfare of their teams - they need to influence the ability of their people to keep going and stay motivated under very difficult circumstances.”