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Two Years On And Workplace Mental Health Hasn’t Improved

Burnout became the catch cry of the pandemic working world - however two years on, we’re feeling more burnt out and tired at work than ever before.

New research this month by leading recruitment company, Frog Recruitment surveyed more than 900 New Zealand workers to understand how their mental health is faring since COVID-19 emerged into our world.

The threat is ever present, with 68% of those surveyed feeling more burnt out than they did 12 months ago.

A strong desire to change jobs is also on the rise, with well over half (62%) saying they were either looking to change jobs this year or weren’t sure whether to or not. Only a third (33%) said they would stay in their roles, down from 40% in November 2021.

Just under half (41%) of those surveyed cited poor leadership as the reason they would leave their current job.

Frog Recruitment managing director Shannon Barlow says leaders need to be at the top of their game or risk losing a significant portion of their workforce.

“Organisational leaders need to up their game. This is a signal that it’s time for leadership to understand their workforce’s wellbeing and to create solutions that show their people they genuinely care to improve their mental health.

“At the same time the pressure on managers who also hold a leadership role cannot be underestimated. Many managers are overwhelmed with ‘over planning’; creating contingencies to fit in with the rapidly-changing government Covid guidelines, navigating mandate requirements for their staff and customers as well as managing staff absences and office spaces due to the virus, all of which are contributing to extreme fatigue.”

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With glaring iso-absences in Kiwi work places this month, virus-free people are also working longer hours to keep businesses running.

Ms Barlow says “a perfect storm is brewing” and leadership teams ignoring this, do so at their peril.

“Aside from a talent flight risk, business owners and leaders should ask themselves whether they can afford the cost to the bottom line and ultimately, ignore the responsibility they have to care for their people’s health.

“Things have got worse not better,” says Barlow.

She says organisations with a history of poor workplace mental health will require a top-led systemic change and cultural shift. For others, there are many ways for leadership teams to step up their support for workers in need.

“Engage a formal employee wellbeing service – or if there is one already in place, remind everyone it’s available to them in confidentiality. For people feeling overwhelmed with their workload, it’s critical to reallocate or assign extra resources to lessen their load. Employees will only know they are genuinely being listened to if their feedback is heard and proactive solutions are implemented.

“More importantly, it seems simple, but have you let them know their worth to the organisation? This should be acknowledged by their manager or even someone from the leadership team. Being told you are valued, should never be underestimated.”

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