Prioritising mental health in the workplace is key for all employers as the stresses and anxieties of the coronavirus pandemic take their toll on workers across the world. However, according to new research from ManpowerGroup, the pandemic’s far-reaching impacts are not the same for all groups of society and all workers, creating a split between “The Haves” and “The Have Nots”. With World Mental Health day just passed, this is something employers should be increasingly mindful of as they navigate the post pandemic workplace.
ManpowerGroup’s The Future for Workers, By Workers: Making the Next Normal Better for All research finds that “Workers are united in what they want for the future – to keep their job, stay healthy, learn and keep developing skills, and to not go back to the old way of working. Yet look closer and an even greater bifurcation within the workforce looks likely. Those with in-demand skills can call the salary shots, work remotely, avoid the commute and stay safe at home. Those with declining skills are required to commute to work onsite, and subject to even greater exposure.”
On the one hand, you have the Haves – the white-collar workers such as those in cyber security, business transformation, accountancy, sales. These workers are more likely to see wage increases, even in downturns, more employment security as their skills are in demand, greater flexibility over how and when they work, meaning they can avoid the office, avoid the risk of public transport and protect their health.
On the other hand, we have the Have Nots, for example those workers in hospitality entertainment and retail – and some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. For these workers, they are more at risk of job loss or furlough, more impacted by wage reductions and cuts. In addition, these workers are less able to do their jobs from homes, putting increasing pressure on issues such as childcare, meanwhile increasing their exposure to the health risks of the virus.
Looking forward, this White-Collar Privilege can be further evidenced – more than half (56%) of white-collar workers in IT and Financial Services expect better work-life after crisis, versus less than half (45%) of those in manufacturing and retail.
With this increasing disparity emerging, it is key that workplace mental health should not be treated as a one-size fits all approach. A global focus on mental health needs to take into account these stark differences.
“What’s important for employers to remember is that everybody struggles, and it’s not uncommon for challenges like mental health issues to spill over into the workplace. Organizations that are able to support their employees can help foster a more productive environment, a more positive outlook for their employees.” Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Chief Talent Scientist, ManpowerGroup