Many workers struggling to cope during COVID

Vast majority have reported some anxiety
  • Deborah Condon

Almost 40% of workers in Ireland are struggling to cope with everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey has found.

According to the findings, 39% are struggling to cope with everyday life, while a massive 91% have reported some level of anxiety during the pandemic. Over half said that fear of a second surge of the virus is their main cause of anxiety, while 30% reported loneliness and isolation as key challenges of working from home.

Yet just one in 10 has sought external professional help for their mental wellbeing.

Furthermore, despite this increased anxiety and the fact that one-third of employees are considered vulnerable to COVID-19 as a result of underlying conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, 78% of workers have not taken any sick leave since March, while 62% have taken fewer holidays than usual.

Meanwhile, the survey also found that 29% of workers needed to see a GP during the pandemic, but could not get an appointment, while the same percentage needed to see a GP but felt too scared to visit their GP surgery.

The survey of 1,004 employees and 188 employers was carried out on behalf of Laya Healthcare in late July. It found that companies predict an average expense of over €37,000 in order to allow employees to return to the workplace. This will be spent on things such as the provision of PPE and infrastructure changes.

However, while larger organisations are more likely to provide mental wellbeing services to support staff returning to the workplace, just 45% of pharmaceutical, manufacturing and IT sectors are providing such services, and this figure falls to 39% in other sectors.

"To address workers' concerns, protect the one in three employees who are vulnerable workers and fully comply with health and safety guidelines, long-term investment in building resources, education and training needs to be made. With over 270,000 companies operating in Ireland, the total cost of returning employees to workplaces could well be in the region of €10 billion.

"The coming months are going to be incredibly challenging. Early intervention and a culture of resilience needs to be prioritised to manage people's mental and physical wellbeing long-term, both for those working in the office and remotely," commented Sinead Proos, head of health and wellbeing at Laya Healthcare.

 


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