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Flexibility welcomed but virus elevates work stress
Pic: Shutterstock

04 Sep 2020 / employment Print

Flexibility welcomed but virus elevates work stress

A University of Limerick survey has found that most workers welcome the new flexibility in work arrangements introduced as a result of COVID-19, but it has also identified concerns about lower levels of wellbeing.

The online survey of employers and employees across the country was carried out by the university’s Kemmy Business School on behalf of consulting company OMT Global.

Difficulties

It found that just over 60% of employees feel increased levels of stress since the onset of COVID-19, with more than 30% saying their quality of life has worsened.

This figure rose to 66.7% for female employees, with 48.5% of women reporting difficulties balancing work and home. The latter figure compared with 34.5% for men.

Despite this, 69.6% of workers felt that their managers were supportive during the crisis, with 84.6 % saying their manager showed understanding.

A full 51.3% of employees, however, feel less connected to their teams since the pandemic started, while 50.4% of managers also reported that their teams feel less connected to each other.

Just over 40% of employees reported feeling disconnected from their organisation. In addition, 47.9% of managers said their employees were disconnected from the organisation.

Both workers and managers expressed concerns that the diminishing social aspect of work would affect team spirit and opportunities to collaborate.

Wellbeing

35.2% of employees believe their organisation is not actively dedicated to improving their wellbeing, with 38.3% of managers agreeing that their organisation could do more to support staff.

The survey identified what it called “a clear difference in perceptions” between middle and senior management levels about how their organisations have handled changes in work practices during the pandemic.

40.2% of middle managers say employees have reported that their quality of life is worse since COVID-19, compared with only 25.5% of senior managers.

55% of senior managers also believe their organisation values employees more since the pandemic started, but only 43.4% of middle managers agreed.

Blend

The findings indicate that employees’ future preference would be a blend of working from home and being onsite.

68.7% of workers would prefer this option, though they have highlighted concerns about their health and safety on the days when they have to return to the workplace.

The report’s authors, Claire Harnett and Dr Sarah Kieran, say human resources policies and practices designed for a physical workplace now need to be adapted, while they also urge companies to develop new wellbeing strategies and longer-term health and safety policies to reflect the new working environment. 

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland