Landmark Survey from The WellBeing Lab Reveals US Workers in Freefall: 84% Report Struggling at Work

Industry: Healthcare

Number of Employees “Thriving at Work” is on a Downward Trajectory / Workers from Every Job Tier are “Very Worried” about the Economy / US Workplaces are NOT Stepping Up to Provide Effective Support Tools.

Fairfax, VA (PRUnderground) May 21st, 2020

A new study from The WellBeing Lab released today indicates U.S. employees are feeling the stresses of the “new normal” with an increasing number (84%), up almost 10% from 2019, feeling they are “really struggling” at their jobs. Conversely, the number of those claiming to be “thriving” at work has decreased 6% during the same time-frame.

Wellbeing expert Michelle McQuaid joined forces with workplace psychologists at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University to come up with an in-depth survey in order to gauge the wellbeing of today’s worker. The research compared trends from data taken last year with new data collected during the current Covid-19 current pandemic.

“We expected to see more stress and anxiety being reported given the health crisis,” said Michelle McQuaid, the founder of The Wellbeing Lab, an international consortium of workplace wellness experts. “But what the numbers are calling into focus is a significant failure on management’s part in supporting their employees with the appropriate tools they will need to perform better.”

Survey’s Key Findings:

  • Only 13% of American workers are consistently thriving, compared to 19% in February 2019 while “those not feeling bad, but just getting by” climbs to 45.1%.
  • 84% of US workers reported that their levels of struggle have increased since the start of 2020 with mental health (36.7%), changes at work (27.2%) and managing money at home (23.4%) being their biggest struggles.
  • Only 49% of American workers feel confident to care for their wellbeing, but workers who reported higher levels of confidence were more likely to also report higher levels of engagement, performance and wellbeing

Survey Findings Specific to Working during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  • 85% of workers feel worried and anxious that they may lose their jobs.
  • Only 21.6% report feeling positive about the prospect of returning to the office as the pandemic restrictions ease.  For the 78.3% report “not feeling positive” the majority of those cite fear of catching the coronavirus as the reason, while others cite that they really “enjoy the flexibility” of working from home.
  • People now working at home due to COVID-19 and those who had kids at home were more likely to report that their levels of struggle had increased since the start of 2020.
  • For workers located at home mental health was particularly challenging and it is worth noting for those who have always worked at home physical health is their second-largest struggle.
  • 85% of workers feel worried and anxious they may catch COVID-19, yet 75.6% are uncertain what actions they should be taking in response to COVID-19.

Survey Conclusions:

When it comes to turning things around and creating a work environment where they can thrive, many employees report receiving little support from management. Only about a third of managers displayed genuine empathy – with nearly 7-out-of-10 (67%) of workers reporting feeling lonely and isolated at times and only 2-out-of-10 feeling it was safe to share their struggles at work. Less than 6% of workers would turn to their HR team to talk about their job struggles.

“What’s really evident from the data is that those suffering on the job reveal they are doing so in silence. Management isn’t hearing about their plights,” reports McQuaid.  “As we design the post-pandemic workplace, now is the time for US businesses to step up and provide their struggling workers with the tools they actually need to turn the situation around.”

The most common forms of wellbeing support in the U.S. workplaces are – 16.3% Healthcare and health services benefits (e.g., Telehealth, virtual healthcare, PPO, HMO, prescription, dental, vision), 17.9% paid leave (e.g., vacation, sick leave, holidays), 12.5% flexible work (e.g., telecommuting, flexible scheduling) and 12% employee assistance programs (EAP). These benefits do little to teach workers the skills they need to more confidently care for their wellbeing, particularly within the current struggles they are experiencing.

For a complete summary of the survey visit:

About The WellBeing Lab:

The Wellbeing Lab brings together leading positive psychology practitioners in Australia, the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East to deliver widely acclaimed, evidence-based resources to help organizations measure, teach, and embed wellbeing approaches that create lasting changes. The lab was founded by Michelle McQuaid, a workplace well-being expert, author, professional speaker and executive coach, who specializes in translating cutting-edge research from positive psychology and neuroscience into practical strategies for health, happiness, and business success.

About Michelle McQuaid

Dr. Michelle McQuaid is a best-selling author, workplace wellbeing teacher and playful change activator. With more than a decade of senior leadership experience in large organizations around the world, she’s passionate about translating cutting-edge research from positive psychology and neuroscience, into practical strategies for health, happiness, and business success.

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