Indians are struggling with stress and anxiety – every two in five professionals are in distress

Indians are struggling with stress and anxiety – every two in five professionals are in distress

  • A new survey by LinkedIn analyses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of working professionals in India. The survey was conducted between March and September this year.
  • Every two in five Indian professionals are experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety due to COVID-19.
  • More than half of the Indian workforce felt lonely at some point during the lockdown.
  • The situation is far more worrying for working mothers who are now logged in at work even beyond work hours as they strive to balance personal and professional lives.
Remote work or the work-from-home (WFH) phenomenon is not new, but it has gained prominence during this COVID-19 pandemic. And even as companies adapted to the ‘new normal’ of work and its functionalities, it came with a more significant set of challenges.

The pandemic has created an environment of a health scare, uncertainty, financial instability, and fear of the unknown. And the transition from a physical workspace to a virtual one during this period has taken a toll on many professionals who have been confined to their homes for over six months now.

Every 2 in 5 (39%) Indian professionals are experiencing increased levels of stress or anxiety due to COVID-19, shows LinkedIn’s survey on mental health. LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index saw the online professional network survey 16,199 professionals over the past six months.

Work from home isn’t fun anymore

The initial euphoria of getting to work-from-home has fizzled out. Before the pandemic, employees could opt for WFH and get a break from the daily commute and hustle-bustle. However, over the last few months, employees have realized that it now merely means being always available — even during weekends and after midnight.

With the increased working hours, endless meetings over Zoom calls, the work overload often spilling over to the weekend, Indian professionals aren’t feeling motivated enough. According to the LinkedIn survey, 1 in 3 professionals (41%) believe working from home is hampering their personal growth despite putting in more effort.

About a quarter of Indian professionals surveyed by LinkedIn believe that work from home has blurred the lines between professional and personal life. The survey findings also show that more than half of the Indian workforce felt lonely at some point as they continue to work from home during the pandemic.

Working mothers have it worse
The situation is more worrying for working mothers who have to focus on their jobs along with home chores, and take care of their children, while catering to their online education needs during the pandemic.

“1 in 3 working mothers in India are currently providing childcare full time (28%), and working outside their business hours to provide childcare (33%),” Linkedin said.

Working mothers continue to overexert themselves for family duties, as compared to working fathers. According to the survey, 36% of working women said they are unable to focus on work with children at home, compared to 25% of working fathers. The survey also says that men are also more likely to seek support from friends and family as only 23% of working mothers rely on a family member or friend to take care of their children, compared to 31% of working fathers.

Only 23% of Indian professionals were offered flexible work hours and emotional support

The majority of employees found themselves stuck with office work and home chores during and after working hours. Only a few — one in every four professionals — were being offered emotional well-being initiatives and flexible work hours by their employers in the early months of the lockdown.

LinkedIn findings also show that only 1 in 5 (21%) professionals were getting more time off through paid or unpaid leaves, while 42% think their companies will not continue to do so after the pandemic.

Dealing with a mental health crisis
On LinkedIn, professionals expressed that corporations need to be sensitive to employees needs and changing the workplace environment. A lot of them have suggested promoting open culture, offering flexible hours to parents, and providing assistance programs to help employees. Avoiding micromanagement and conducting well-being seminars are some of the other steps that employers can take to ensure a healthy environment.

And several companies have started recognising mental health issues among employees and are taking steps to prevent employee burnout. Home service startup Urban Company said it has added unlimited mental health leave policy.

While others like PwC, PepsiCo and tech giant Google are among those providing an extra day off clubbed with the weekends to ease the burden on employees. And this has once again triggered the debate around the need for a four-day week to help employees maintain the balance between their professional and personal lives.

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