Employees’ support strategies for mental wellbeing during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic: Recommendations for employers in the UK workforce

Kerri Bailey, Johanna Scheutzow, Emily Cooke, Katie Taylor, Francesco Silvestrin, Anna Naumenko, Rebecca Hadley, Adam Huxley, Sonia Ponzo, Gerard Hutchinson (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond for many businesses, employees have had to adapt to new ways of working due to disruptions in traditional practices. It is therefore crucial to understand the new challenges that employees are facing when it comes to taking care of their mental wellbeing at work. To that end, we distributed a survey to full-time UK employees (N = 451) to explore how supported they felt throughout the pandemic, and to identify whether there are any additional types of support they would like to receive. We also compared employees’ intentions to seek help before versus during the COVID-19 pandemic, and assessed their current attitudes toward mental health. Based on direct employee feedback, our results show remote workers felt more supported throughout the pandemic compared to hybrid workers. We also found that employees who had previously experienced an episode of anxiety or depression were significantly more likely to want extra support at work compared to those who had not. Furthermore, employees were significantly more likely to seek help for their mental health during the pandemic compared to before. Interestingly, the largest increase in intentions to seek help during the pandemic compared to before was with digital health solutions. Finally, we found that the strategies managers have adopted to better support their employees, an employee’s mental health history, and their attitude to mental health all contributed to significantly increasing the likelihood that an employee would disclose a mental health concern to their line manager. We provide recommendations that encourage organisations to make changes to better support their employees, and we highlight the importance of mental health awareness training for both managers and employees. This work is of particular interest to organisations who are looking to tailor their current employee wellbeing offer to a post-pandemic world.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0285275
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume18
Issue number5
Early online date5 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2023

Keywords

  • Research Article
  • Medicine and health sciences
  • Social sciences
  • Biology and life sciences
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Employment
  • Humans
  • Workforce
  • United Kingdom/epidemiology

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