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C-Suite execs experiencing more mental health challenges than their employees

Mental health challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted workers differently depending on their seniority, generation, and location.

That’s according to a new report by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, which studied more than 12,000 employees, managers, HR leaders and C-Suite executive across 11 countries.

It found that C-suite executives struggled to adapt more than their employees, younger generations experienced the most burnout, and that India, UAE, China and the U.S. had the most workers reporting the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.

C-Suite Executives See the Biggest Challenges in Remote Work

C-level executives have struggled the most with adapting to remote work realities and report they are suffering from mental health issues more than their employees, but they are also the most open to finding help in AI.

  • C-Suite execs (53 percent) have struggled with mental health issues in the workplace more than their employees (45 percent).
  • C-Suite execs also had the hardest time adapting to virtual lifestyles with 85 percent reporting significant remote work challenges including collaborating with teams virtually (39 percent), managing increased stress and anxiety (35 percent), and lacking workplace culture (34 percent).
  • C-Suite execs were also 29 percent more likely to experience difficulties learning new technologies for remote work than employees; once they adjusted to the new normal, C-Suite execs were 26 percent more likely to find increased productivity than employees
  • C-Suite execs are the most open to using AI for help with mental health: 73 percent would prefer to talk to a robot (i.e. chatbots and digital assistants) about their mental health over a human compared to 61 percent of employees.
  • C-Suite execs are 23 percent more likely to see AI benefits than employees; 80 percent of C-Suite leaders noted AI has already helped their mental health at work.

Gen Z and Millennials are Hustlin’ Harder, Suffering More, and Seeking AI Relief

Younger workers are feeling the most burnout due to the mental health effects of the pandemic and are more open to asking AI for relief.

  • Gen Z is more likely to be negatively impacted by the pandemic than any other generation. Nearly 90 percent of Gen Z workers said COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health and 94 percent noted workplace stress impacts their home life as well.
  • Gen Z workers are 2X more likely than Baby Boomers to work extra hours during the pandemic, and Millennials are 130 percent more likely to have experienced burnout than Baby Boomers.
  • Younger generations are the most likely to turn to robots for support: Gen Z workers are 105 percent more likely to talk to a robot over their manager about stress and anxiety at work than Baby Boomers. 84 percent of Gen Z and 77 percent of Millennials prefer robots over humans to help with their mental health.
  • Gen Z workers are 73 percent more likely than Baby Boomers to benefit from AI at work: 90 percent of Gen Z say AI has helped their mental health at work and 93 percent want their companies to provide technology to support their mental health.

Employees in Different Countries are Experiencing Very Different Realities

Just like COVID-19, the mental health crisis has impacted people differently across the world. People in India and China are being hit the hardest and are the most open to AI support, while workers in Italy, Germany, and Japan are seeing less of an impact.

  • India (89 percent), UAE (86 percent), China (83 percent) and the U.S. (81 percent) had the most workers reporting the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. Workers in China (43 percent) and India (32 percent) are also the most burned out from overwork as a result of COVID-19.
  • Italy reported the lowest number of people experiencing a negative impact on their mental health from the pandemic (65 percent). Workers in Germany were the least likely to report that 2020 was the most stressful year at work ever (52 percent).
  • 29 percent of people in Japan say they have not experienced many difficulties at all working remotely or collaborating with teams virtually. In contrast, 96 percent of people in India admit it has been challenging to keep up with the pace of technology at work.
  • People in China (97 percent) and India (92 percent) are the most open to having a robot as a therapist or counsellor. People in France (68 percent) and the UK (69 percent) were the most hesitant.
  • People in India and China are 33 percent more likely to talk to a robot than their peers in other countries: 91 percent of Indian workers and 91 percent of Chinese workers would prefer a robot over their manager to talk about stress and anxiety at work.

Despite Demographics, People Need Help from Their Employers. It’s Time to Step Up

Despite seniority, generation and geographic differences, people all over the world agree: The pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health of the global workforce—and they want help.

  • 78 percent of workers say the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health.
  • 76 percent of people believe their company should be doing more to protect their mental health.
  • 83 percent would like their company to provide technology to support their mental health.

“Diving deep into the differences between demographic and regional groups highlights the significant impact of the pandemic on the mental health for employees in various age groups, roles and regions,” said Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner, Workplace Intelligence. “Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, companies can use this moment as a catalyst for positive change in their organizations. While the pandemic raised the urgency for companies to start protecting the mental health of their employees, the efforts they put in now will continue to create happier, healthier and more engaged workforces in the decades to come.”

“The pandemic put employee mental health in the global spotlight, but these findings also showed that it created growing support for solutions from employers including technologies like AI,” said Emily He, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM. “The way the pandemic changed our work routines makes burnout, stress and other mental health issues all too easy. Everyone has been affected in different ways and the solutions each company puts in place need to reflect the unique challenges of employees. But overall, these findings demonstrate that implementing technology to improve the mental health of employees needs to be a priority for every business.”

Learn more about this global study and download the new report here.

Female employees more concerned about health and wellbeing than male counterparts

GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, asked 1,165 UK employees about their health and wellbeing concerns, and found that female employees have more concerns than their male colleagues.

The survey asked employees to consider six key areas of health and wellbeing and identify whether they were of personal concern to them. The results show that women have more concerns in three areas, one specific area concerned more men than women and they were equal in two areas..

  • Stress and anxiety relating to work (such as pressures of overwork, uncertainty of future) concerned 21% of women vs 18% of men.
  • Stress and anxiety relating to finances and debt concerned 18% of women vs 14% of men.
  • Stress and anxiety relating to living with long-term chronic illness or health conditions (such as diabetes) concerned 14% of women but only 8% of men.
  • Men were marginally more concerned than women about stress and anxiety relating to home life (such as caring responsibilities, managing difficult relationships) at 14% vs 12% for women.
  • Men and women were equally concerned (12%) about their general lack of fitness caused by a non-active lifestyle.
  • But neither were particularly concerned about ill-health related to lifestyle such as obesity, smoking and alcohol dependence (5%).

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD) said: “I’m sure that these results will surprise some employers and challenge the stereotypes that can be associated with gender in the workplace, for instance with women being more concerned about finances than men, and men more concerned than women about issues relating to home life. With that in mind, it’s hugely important that employers do not make assumptions about the health and wellbeing needs of their workforce on gender, or of course, any other basis.

“Changes in the law and workplace practices, such as shared parental leave, mean that work and home life are becoming much more balanced across both genders, and that needs to be reflected in the employee benefits that are offered to all staff.”

The concerns give a good indication of what support both men and women will value, and employers that offer such support will be ahead of the game. Providing help to alleviate stress from responsibilities at home; financial support; assistance with long-term health conditions – or to improve any area of health and wellbeing – will all be appreciated particularly as businesses adapt to working models which may be very different from pre-Covid 19.

A holistic and balanced employee benefits package that incorporates support for these areas will clearly be valued by a workforce.

Moxham added: “Most members of staff will be healthy and well throughout their entire time at work but no-one can predict what is just around the corner in terms of family or work life. An additional project at home, an ill child, sudden responsibilities as a carer, or health problems can all be difficult for an employee to manage at the same time as trying to work. And that’s without adding in any extra work pressures such as vying for a promotion or pay rise, navigating a relocation, or new responsibilities, or of course, new challenges that we’ve seen with Covid-19.

“No employer should expect their staff to leave their personal problems at the door any more but employers who have support mechanisms in place for their employees are able to intervene before the situation escalates, which is not only a great support for the individual but also mitigates the likelihood, frequency and length of any absence related to such issues.”