Two-thirds of office-based employees under extreme stress

Pilot study notes the longstanding trauma of Covid-19 and lockdowns.

A pilot study by IQbusiness indicates that more 66 percent of office-based employees may be experiencing extreme stress, depression and anxiety.

The study probed employee trauma levels of staff at a large, national professional services firm this September.

The study tested key empirical indicators of trauma including financial constraints, breakdowns in close relationships, retrenchments or caring for a loved one. The results revealed that:

  • 92 percent are concerned by the state of South Africa’s economy and the possible implications it would have for themselves and their loved ones;
  • 54 percent were experiencing financial strain; and
  • Over 69 percent were mentally affected by the state of poverty on the news and around them.

Adam Craker, CEO of IQbusiness, says, “As vaccination numbers increase and people slowly return to their offices, businesses will need to swiftly identify and respond to a multitude of unanticipated risks and issues. We are already seeing businesses struggle to adapt to yet another ‘new normal’.”

Nadine Rix, head of Governance, Risk and Compliance at IQbusiness adds, “The people who are returning to the physical workplace are fundamentally different to the individuals who left their offices in March 2020. We’ve experienced traumatic life events resulting from restrictive lockdowns, homeschooling our children, suffering illness, job loss and loss of life in our network of family and friends”.

Immediate risks to businesses would include absenteeism, decreased productivity and a lack of engagement.

“There are practical steps companies can take to achieve organisational resilience. But the first step is to understand the problem, the symptoms and the actions required,” Nadine says.

Adam adds, “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how resilient South Africans are. But the human emotional cost is mounting and our businesses and organisations must take a proactive approach to address the systemic trauma employed South Africans have experienced – or we run the risk of lost productivity, absenteeism, high attrition rates, and overall low employee morale. Our economy and people simply cannot afford it.”