More than half of the employees have suffered significant damage to the health of the workforce.

More than half of the employees have suffered significant damage to the health of the workforce.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting year of working from home have negatively impacted the health of 55% of the global workforce, according to new research from Gartner. All segments have experienced “significant and widespread damage to workforce health,” the 2021 Gartner Workforce Resilience Employee Survey found. SEE: Wellness at work: How to support your team’s mental health (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Specifically, there has been an impact among at least half of the workforce at each level; at least 44% of the workforce in each function; and at least 35% of the workforce in every industry, the firm said. The pandemic has also impacted the work environment. As a result of the immediate shift in where and how people work, 29% of employees have a lower level of change receptivity, and 31% experienced a lower level of inclusion, Gartner said.

SEE: The Great Resignation of 2021: Are 30% of workers really going to quit? (TechRepublic) “These impacts to health are both long-term and hard-to-reverse,” said Piers Hudson, senior director analyst in the Gartner HR practice, in a statement. “Moving forward, organizations must figure out how to sustain and grow performance, whether in a period of disruption or not, without damaging the health of employees.”

The research found that 85% of employees have experienced higher levels of burnout, while 40% report declines in their work-life balance. This has impacted the health of relationships as well, Gartner said. The disruption of the pandemic has led to 41% of employees having lower trust in their teams and 37% having lower trust in leadership. “Many leaders have looked at productivity to gauge how employees have done during the pandemic,” said Molly Tipps, senior director, advisor, in the Gartner HR practice, in a statement. “While HR leaders and employees report that productivity has maintained or improved since the onset of COVID-19, the cost has been substantial declines across many workforce health elements.”

Gartner recommended that HR leaders work with other business leaders and managers to address three workforce health lessons. Three ways to sustain workforce resilience through disruption

Employees who had the highest levels of workforce health pre-COVID were not necessarily more likely to thrive, and those with the lowest pre-COVID workforce health were not predisposed to fare worse, Gartner said. “Therefore, leaders need to deepen their understanding of how disruption impacts different employees to develop effective and affordable interventions, rather than focusing on average, and ultimately misleading, findings,” Gartner said. A “thriving and diving” dynamic has resulted from the pandemic even though Gartner’s talent data looks to be overall unchanged, the firm said. Among the employees surveyed, 30% experienced limited or no change to their psychological safety. Another 34% experienced a decline in psychological safety, while 36% reported significant improvements.

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