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75 Percent of Employees Report Struggling with COVID Anxiety
Ohio Ag Connection - 10/15/2020

New survey findings indicate that 75% of U.S. employees have struggled at work due to anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent world events. TELUS International, a leading global customer experience and digital solutions provider, commissioned a survey of 1,000 Americans who have been working for their employers from home since March, and found that nearly 80% of respondents said they would consider quitting their current position for a job that focused more on employee mental health.

"It's imperative in today's climate that employers are aware of and consider the difficult truth that many individuals are experiencing mental and physical health issues since they began working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Marilyn Tyfting, chief corporate officer of TELUS International. "Since March, we transitioned the majority of our almost 50,000 global team members from working in our facilities to working from home to protect their health and safety during the pandemic; however, we have not lost sight of continuing to provide the same high level of empathy and concern that are foundational aspects of our caring culture. Our approach has been, 'out of sight, top of mind,' meaning our people leaders have come up with fun and inclusive ways to virtually recognize and reward team members, and have increased the cadence of team and individual touch points to help address the unique challenges they may be facing, both personally and professionally during these times."

When asked whether they have found it hard to "shut off" from work in the evenings, almost four in five survey respondents said they have found it challenging. The survey findings also show that over half of respondents said they have not taken a "mental health day" since they started working from home due to the pandemic, and 44% have not taken a single day of vacation since they started working from home despite 97% saying that vacation days while working from home are important to "recharge".

Additionally, over 50% of respondents' sleep patterns have been negatively impacted since working from home due to the societal effects of COVID-19, saying they are not getting enough sleep (40%) or hardly sleeping at all (13%). Of the 1,000 survey participants across the country, 39% reported feeling less healthy physically and 45% said they feel less healthy mentally since working from home due to COVID-19; however, only six of 10 respondents said their employer has expressed genuine concern about their health during this time.

The importance of employers prioritizing the well-being of those they are managing was highlighted with nearly all (97%) respondents saying it is important that a company prioritizes its employees' mental health. The survey results indicated that this is not entirely happening yet as only two of every five respondents feel empowered to let someone at their company know when they aren't feeling physically or mentally well.

"We recognize that our responsibility as employers extends to modeling the healthy behaviors we want to inspire in our team members, such as taking days off to recharge and sharing our own feelings and the challenges we may be facing as fellow human beings so that they are comfortable approaching us for help," added Tyfting. "Through our approach, we have been able to remain connected to our team members and better train and educate our leaders to recognize and support their teams, which are imperative in maintaining our culture."

The survey results also highlight the importance of offering employees flexibility in their work schedule as nearly nine in 10 respondents agreed that would positively impact their mental health. Additionally, employees indicated the following top three things an employer can do to make them feel their mental health is being prioritized:

- Health benefits/coverage that includes therapy/counselling (49%)

- Thoughtful 1:1 check-ins (43%)

- Virtual workshops about health and wellness; yoga & meditation classes (37%)


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