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Study Reveals Which Groups Have Experienced Mental Health, Job Satisfaction Declines

19 Oct, 2020


People management platform Hibob recently unveiled the results of its latest workplace study, showing that a majority of U.S. employees have been suffering from a mental health decline since the start of the pandemic. While the decline is apparent across the board, data indicates that individual experiences are shaped by gender, age, personal environment, and role at work. These factors impact productivity levels and rates of mental health decline and feelings of job satisfaction and security.
 
“As companies continue to power through the pandemic, they cannot ignore their role in supporting employees who are struggling, and must take action to address them,” said Ronni Zehavi, CEO at Hibob. “With the unpredictability of the future, it’s important for leaders to support its people. Transparency up and down the organization is paramount to creating a strong culture, and HR teams must strive to maintain genuine ongoing engagement and communication with employees. Without open communication, the struggles employees are facing maygo unrecognized, which could impact their productivity and job satisfaction, and therefore, the organization overall.” 
 
The Disproportionate Decline of Mental Health and Wellness
 
A vast majority of employees (93%) have seen a direct impact from COVID – either from personal or family illness, or changes to their financial situation due to the economic environment. When experiencing these external changes, employee satisfaction dropped by 27%, and mental health and wellbeing dropped a staggering 33%. While both economic and physical health played a role in influencing employees’ mental health, Hibob’s survey reveals that changes to someone’s financial situation – such as a layoff or change in employment status – weigh the most heavily on Americans, decreasing mental health in 11% of workers. On the other hand, less than three percent of those who contracted COVID-19 or had a family member fall ill saw a decline in their mental health.
 
Hibob’s study also looked into discrepancies between mental health and wellbeing among employees in management positions versus employees who are not managers (individual contributors). This revealed a 22% decline in mental health for individual contributors; 65% of individual contributors ranked their mental health as good or great before the pandemic, compared to just 43% now. Alternately, those in management positions only saw a 12% decline in mental health since the onset of the pandemic. Additionally, 57% of those in management positions felt confident in the ability of their firm’s HR teams to address employee wellbeing and mental health, as compared to only 40% of individual contributors. Data suggests that managers have more trust in HR than employees. Especially in today’s environment, companies must promote transparency to establish trust. By communicating more openly and creating more evident initiatives to support employees at all levels, company leaders and HR teams can fortify confidence regardless of the tumultuous times.
 
Statistics also show that the mental health of older employees and women has been impacted and is hurting their job satisfaction. Around one-quarter of people 55 and older saw their mental health decline (26%) and became less satisfied with their jobs (24%), whereas only 10% of those aged 18-24 experienced mental health declines. While analyzing the differences in mental health ratings between men and women, the survey revealed that 10% fewer women rated their mental health at work 4 or 5 as compared to men, which can likely be attributed to the fact that women have been tasked with balancing work while actively caring for children and elderly parents or other circumstances. Additionally, more women (41%) admitted to feeling guilty taking PTO during the pandemic, compared to only 32% of men. This negative correlation of women’s wellbeing and PTO calls attention to the urgency of addressing mental health on the individual or circumstantial level.
 
The Inequalities of Job Satisfaction and Productivity, Influenced by HR
 
Since the start of the pandemic, individual contributors have reported lower job satisfaction levels than those who were in management roles. Directly influencing job satisfaction and work from home productivity was HR’s ability to set WFH expectations and address COVID-19 WFH concerns. While only 54% of individual contributors felt their HR teams have supported and adapted to the pandemic’s effects on the company, a majority (71%) of those in management positions felt HR had done an excellent job communicating and being helpful.
 
This confidence directly corresponds to job satisfaction, where 18% of individual contributors reported a decline since March, while 10% of managers were similarly impacted. Lastly, a surprising 61% of managers felt very productive while working remotely, whereas less than half (44%) of individual contributors felt productive at home. Although managers may be under more pressure by company executives, these results indicate a serious need for U.S. companies to audit and reevaluate how they’re setting up individual contributors for success and satisfaction.
 
When comparing job satisfaction from pre-pandemic to now, 25% of women reported decreased job satisfaction, while 15% of men reported this. Today, roughly half of women (51%) respondents answered they were satisfied with their jobs, and only 11% of women felt their HR teams had set the standard for work from home productivity, compared to 18% of men. These findings prove that HR must evaluate how to increase job satisfaction for women separately from men, and provide solutions for different groups with different needs, i.e. childcare for women. 
 
How can HR teams solve these issues and improve the employee experience?  
 
Data reveals that creating a hybrid work environment can be a successful way for HR to improve job dissatisfaction due to the pandemic. Regardless of gender, age, or role, those whose offices had implemented hybrid work from home/work from office policies reported higher job satisfaction (68% and 65% job satisfaction of 4 or 5 vs. only 45% for employees that do not have a hybrid work policy available).
 
“As employees continue to work from home and in hybrid models, these findings have proven just how important it is for companies to check in with their staff regarding their mental health. Tools such as Hibob’s survey feature allow companies to gauge how people are doing, feeling, and how HR can provide solutions that address the real needs of employees,” comments Zehavi. “During this time, many people are distracted in the day-to-day; they forget how disproportionately some are being affected. It is the responsibility of HR and leaders to tackle these issues head-on.” 
 
The national survey was conducted online by Pollfish on behalf of Hibob on August 25, 2020. It includes responses from 1,000 full-time employees, ages 18 and up in the United States. 
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