Change is never easy, and the past few years have provided numerous challenges for companies and workers to navigate. So, it’s probably no surprise to hear that according to Adecco’s ‘Disconnect to Reconnect’ survey, 68% of workers feel anxiety and stress sometimes or often. However, while 59% of companies feel that worker stress has increased since the pandemic, only 25% of workers agree. While the pandemic has clearly impacted the well-being of workers, companies were not aware to what degree the stress was already there before the Covid crisis.
Adecco’s recent ‘Disconnect to Reconnect’ survey spoke to over 1000 workers in over 100 countries, with three main objectives in mind. They were to explore whether ways of working have evolved since the pandemic, identify the ability of workers worldwide to disconnect from their jobs, and understand the capability of companies to promote workers’ well-being.
Younger generations facing burnout
Younger were the exception in experiencing higher stress levels during the pandemic, with 77% of Gen Z and 73% of Gen Y reporting an increase. These generations were more likely to work beyond normal business hours, which contributed to these feelings. Women were also more likely to report an increase in stress, with 3 out of 10 women indicating that their workload and stress has increased since the pandemic.
Companies also overestimated the increase in workload. 41% of surveyed companies felt that the workload had increased, but only 31% of workers agreed. Home office workers were more likely to indicate that their workload was higher than before the pandemic started, 36% versus 30% before.
Overall, the US, India, and the UK reported more workload, and Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy reported more stress.
Reconsidering the work/life balance
Although the pandemic did not significantly increase stress and anxiety, it was the tipping point for many workers to reconsider their work/life balance, with workload and flexibility being key factors in their decisions. More than half (52%) of surveyed workers plan on leaving their jobs within 5 years, with 1 in 10 of those planning to leave in the next year. The higher the reported level of stress, the more likelihood of the desire to leave jobs sooner, with 35% of workers with customer-facing jobs expressing the desire to leave in two years or less. Alternatively, workers who were given the opportunity to work from home and to have a flexible schedule during the pandemic were able to better handle the workload and stress, reported less difficulty disconnecting from work after hours, and are less likely to leave their positions in the near future.
Workers in Spain, Germany, and the U.S. were more likely to report an interest in staying in their positions longer than five years. Conversely, workers in Switzerland, France, and India have a higher proportion of permanent placement workers intending to leave within the next six months.
Though the majority of workers feel that their workload and stress levels stayed the same during the pandemic, it is important to note that flexible schedules and the ability to work from home helped them manage. Continuing to offer flexibility post-pandemic could help companies increase job retention and possibly lower worker stress.