Alexandria, VA – In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 7 in 10 employees found it difficult to concentrate at work, according to new data in the 2022 Mind the Workplace report released today by Mental Health America (MHA).
Analysis of survey responses from more than 11,300 U.S. employees across 17 industries in 2021 showed 71% of respondents found it difficult to concentrate at work, compared to 65% in 2020 and 46% in 2018.
“Several factors may be contributing to this increase, but two years of living and working through the pandemic could contribute to lesser concentration at work,” said Taylor Adams, director of workplace mental health at MHA. “The high number of employees struggling to concentrate could also reflect the impact of long COVID, where we know brain fog, concentration, and memory problems are common. More research is needed to fully understand why employees are finding it harder to concentrate in 2021.”
The report also finds rates of stress leading to increased mental health concerns among employees remain prominent across organizational sizes and industries. Seventy-eight percent of respondents agreed that their workplace stress affects their mental health, however, this percentage was a slight decrease compared to 85% who agreed in 2020.
Many companies have implemented programs focused on stress management and burnout mitigation since the pandemic, which may or may not have decreased employee stress levels. On the contrary, employees may also have become desensitized or adjusted to an increased level of sustained stress and unease over the past two years.
“These past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it overtly clear that our workplaces directly affect our health in every way – from the risk of spreading infection to the potential for anxiety or depression,” said Schroeder Stribling, president and CEO of MHA. “The experiences we have each day at work – our relationships with co-workers and managers, our access to quality and confidential support as needed, and the values and policies that guide our efforts, have a direct effect – positive or negative – on our overall sense of well-being.”
Illuminating the worker perspective, the report found more than half of respondents spent time looking for a new position, compared to 40% in 2018. It also revealed 2 in 3 employees are not comfortable providing feedback to their manager about their performance, with more than half of employees saying they lack agency to negotiate responsibilities or workload with their manager. Further reducing open dialogue, only a third of respondents said company leaders talk openly about mental health.
“This report highlights the need for leadership to reduce, and ideally eliminate, the tremendous amount of unnecessary stress workers face, largely because the conditions necessary for active and positive engagement do not exist in their workplace,” said Andrew Faas, founder of the Faas Foundation, which partnered with MHA on the report.
This fourth annual workplace health report builds on our understanding of how work and its accompanying stressors affect every aspect of an employee’s life, from personal relationships to mental health diagnoses to overall well-being. Other significant findings from respondents include:
- 80% agree that the stress from work affects their relationships with friends, family, and co-workers.
- Only 40% agree that their company invests in developing supportive managers.
- 59% report that their manager cares about their personal well-being.
- 58% disagree that their manager encourages them to take off time when needed.
- 47% know what mental health services they can use when struggling with a mental health concern, but only 38% would be comfortable using their company's services for a mental health concern.
You can read the full 2022 Mind the Workplace report, including concrete steps employers can take to better support their employees’ mental health, here.
About Mental Health America
Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal. Learn more at MHAnational.org.