Research suggests that work is negatively impacting employee wellbeing – and the COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating this

05 June 2020

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned that, even prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, work was having a negative impact on employee health. Its latest research has highlighted that the COVID-19 crisis will only serve to heighten the issue.

The CIPD’s Good Work Index report, which assesses the major elements that impact job quality over the long-term, shows that just as the COVID-19 crisis was unfolding in the UK, work was already having a negative impact on employee wellbeing. Th elements that are measured within the report are:

  • Pay and benefits
  • Contracts
  • Work-life balance
  • Job design
  • Relationships at work
  • Employee voice
  • Health and wellbeing

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, workers were already saying that, when working, they always or frequently felt:

  • Exhausted (22%)
  • Under excessive pressure (21%)
  • Miserable (11%)

A third of respondents reported that their workload in a standard week was too high, with a quarter confirming that they find relaxing outside of work difficult due to the pressures of their job. Even more worryingly, 69% of individuals who reported experiencing anxiety in the last year cited work as a contributing factor. 58% of those who suffered depression stated the same.

A snapshot survey of 1,001 workers demonstrated how the COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating several of the issues previously identified, with the following key findings:

  • 22 per cent said it was probable that they would lose their job in the next year 
  • 43 per cent of those with a mental health condition say that the outbreak of coronavirus has contributed to, or worsened, their condition 
  • 29 per cent of those with anxiety say the pandemic has contributed to, or worsened, their condition

In response to the survey’s findings, the CIPD has offered a list of recommendations for employers to promote healthy working practices. The list includes:

  • Assessing workloads, and ensuring that staff are not under excess pressure
  • Ensuring that managers are sufficiently trained in conducting supportive and sensitive discussions on wellbeing. They also need to understand how important regular contact is for staff who are working remotely
  • Highlighting benefits such as counselling helplines, that may already be available to employees
  • Allowing workers to have more control over how, when and where they work

The report can be accessed and read in its entirety here.


The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.