A Pandemic At Work: Employee Anxiety And Return To Work Demands

A new report from Udemy provides a look at the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on American workers and the workplace.

A new report from Udemy provides a comprehensive look at the impact COVID-19 and the resulting economic uncertainty has had on American workers and the workplace. “Udemy In Depth: The Portrait of a Pandemic at Work,” reveals that as the pandemic continues to reshape the U.S. economy and workforce, workers’ concerns have morphed into fears and doubts about their immediate and long-term economic futures. Employees are rethinking what returning to work means, picking up new habits to adjust to their redefined normal, and developing new skills so they can stay competitive in the new economy.COVID-19 pandemic and work

To Return Or Not Return To Work…That Is The Question

As states reopen, employers and employees face the reality of returning to shared workspaces and preparing for what needs to change to keep everyone safe. Most employees are willing to wear a mask in the office and believe their employer should require all employees to be regularly tested for COVID-19. However, employees have low confidence that employers will reconfigure the workplace to make it safer.

The survey found that:

  • 80% are willing to wear a mask while working onsite
  • 75% believe that their employer should require all employees to be regularly tested for COVID-19, and they should not be allowed to work on-site if they test positive for the virus
  • 75% think their employer should require COVID-related safety training to ensure a safe working environment
  • Only 41% anticipate that workspaces will be designed to enhance employee health and safety.

When they’re ready to get back to work, an overwhelming majority (78%) said it’s important for employers to offer flexible remote work policies moving forward and 48% would consider leaving their job if these flexible working options aren’t available. The majority of workers (74%) also think a four-day work week would make them more productive.COVID-19 pandemic and work

Here are some additional findings from the report:

  • 72% of employees are worried that the “New Normal” caused by COVID-19 and the resulting economic uncertainty will have a long-lasting negative effect on their quality of life and future prospects.
  • 45% feel safer, both physically and mentally, when working remotely. However, 75% also agree they’ve been working harder juggling work and homelife than their “significant other.”
  • 29% of employees confess to having consumed alcohol on the job, 51% have watched TV while working, and 45% have worked from bed.
  • 67% report they’ve spent time learning new skills or enhancing existing ones during the COVID-19 Pandemic and 49% preferred online courses.

“The findings of this study reveal a fragile workforce where everyone is fighting new battles and leaders must embrace a culture of empathy,” said Cara Brennan Allamano, Senior Vice President of People, Places, and Learning at Udemy. “We’re living through a time of intense and profound transitions. Organizational leaders should work to be agile in navigating successfully through these changes while also being open and honest with their employees about the challenges they encounter. With no formal divide between home and work, leaders should also be thinking about what additional support they can give employees to help them better adjust to this new way of work.”

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  1. Depression and anxiety affect different people
    in different ways. Most people experiencing
    depression or anxiety disorder are able to remain
    at work. Others, however, will need time off. In these
    cases, employers can play a key role in ensuring
    that returning to the workplace is a smooth process
    for the individual, the team, and the organization.
    If an employee experiencing depression or anxiety
    returns to work in an appropriate and meaningful
    the role, this may decrease the likelihood of relapse and
    increase the likelihood of the organization retaining
    the skills and experience of that individual.

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