2020 has been the most stressful year in history for the global workforce and people want robots to help, according to a new study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, an HR research and advisory firm.
The study of more than 12,000 employees, managers, HR leaders, and C-level executives across 11 countries found that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased workplace stress, anxiety, and burnout for people all around the world, and they prefer robots instead of other people to help.
COVID-19 has Negatively Impacted the Mental Health of the Global Workforce
People across the world are battling increased levels of anxiety and depression at work due to COVID-19.
- 70 per cent of people have had more stress and anxiety at work this year than any other previous year.
- This increased stress and anxiety has negatively impacted the mental health of 78 per cent of the global workforce, causing more stress (38 per cent), a lack of work-life balance (35 per cent), burnout (25 per cent), depression from no socialization (25 per cent), and loneliness (14 per cent).
- The new pressures presented by the global pandemic have been layered on top of everyday workplace stressors, including pressure to meet performance standards (42 per cent), handling routine and tedious tasks (41 per cent), and juggling unmanageable workloads (41 per cent).
Mental Health Issues at Work are Negatively Affecting People’s Personal Lives
The global pandemic has exacerbated workplace mental health issues and the impact is not confined to professional lives – people are feeling the effects at home as well.
- 85 per cent of people say mental health issues at work (i.e. stress, anxiety, and depression) affect their home life
- The most common repercussions were sleep deprivation (40 per cent), poor physical health (35 per cent), reduced happiness at home (33 per cent), suffering family relationships (30 per cent), and isolation from friends (28 per cent).
- As boundaries have increasingly blurred between personal and professional worlds with people working remotely, 35 per cent of people are working 40+ more hours each month and 25 per cent of people have been burned out from overwork.
- Despite perceived drawbacks of remote work, 62 per cent of people find remote work more appealing now than they did before the pandemic, saying they now have more time to spend with family (51 per cent), sleep (31 per cent), and get work done (30 per cent).
Employees Want Help and Are Turning to Technology Over People
People want more from technology than collaboration tools and instead want technology to support their mental health
- Only 18 per cent of people would prefer humans over robots to support their mental health as they believe robots provide a judgement-free zone (34 per cent), an unbiased outlet to share problems (30 per cent), and quick answers to health-related questions (29 per cent).
- 68 per cent of people would prefer to talk to a robot over their manager about stress and anxiety at work and 80 per cent of people are open to having a robot as a therapist or counselor.
- 75 per cent say AI has helped their mental health at work. The top benefits noted were providing the information needed to do their job more effectively (31 per cent), automating tasks and decreasing workload to prevent burnout (27 per cent), and reducing stress by helping to prioritize tasks (27 per cent).
- AI has also helped the majority (51 per cent) of workers shorten their work week and allowed them to take longer vacations (51 per cent). Over half of respondents say AI technology increases employee productivity (63 per cent), improves job satisfaction (54 per cent), and improves overall well-being (52 per cent).
Mental Health Issues at Work Aren’t Going Away and Can’t be Ignored
Employees worldwide are looking for their organizations to provide more mental health support and if this help is not provided, it will have profound impact on global productivity as well as the personal and professional lives of the global workforce.
- 76 per cent of people believe their company should be doing more to protect the mental health of their workforce. 51 per cent noted their companies have added mental health services or support as a result of COVID-19.
- 83 per cent of the global workforce would like their company to provide technology to support their mental health, including self-service access to health resources (36 per cent), on-demand counseling services (35 per cent), proactive health monitoring tools (35 per cent), access to wellness or meditation apps (35 per cent), and chatbots to answer health-related questions (28 per cent).
- 84 per cent of workers have faced challenges while working remotely, with the biggest factors being no distinction between personal and professional lives (41 per cent) and dealing with increased mental health challenges like stress and anxiety (33 per cent).
- 42 per cent of people said workplace stress, anxiety, or depression causes their productivity to plummet and 40 per cent said it leads to an increase in poor decision making. 85 per cent said work-related stress, anxiety, and depression affects their home life.