Working from home leads to mental health challenges

August 11, 2021 | 10:49
Many employees in Vietnam may experience unanticipated mental health consequences from mandated remote work.
Working from home leads to mental health challenges
Working from home could lead to mental health challenges, according to finding by Adecco

It has been one and a half years since the very first COVID-19 cases were found in Vietnam and "work from home", "virtual office", and "hybrid workplace" became a norm for most businesses.

Since the fourth outbreak, many companies have work-from-home under social distancing. However, the shift to remote work as a result of social distancing procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic might cause a surprising, even if relatively mild, deterioration of mental health.

Adecco Vietnam’s latest survey reveals that more than 53.7 per cent of participants share they feel "more stressful" during the most recent outbreak compared to 2020. Looking closer, 43 per cent of Gen Z stress "most of the time" and "almost always", the highest compared to Gen Y (27.6 per cent), Gen X (18.5 per cent), and Baby Boomer (37 per cent).

The five main stressors are safety from COVID-19, long-term financial viability, job security and career prospects, mental and physical health, and too much information consumption. It is worth noting while about 80 per cent of employees attach great importance to their mental health, nearly 33 per cent of businesses do not offer any support in this aspect.

This demonstrates the inadequate attention given to mental health issues in the workplace. As observed by the regional medical director of International SOS Vietnam, most employers still prioritise overall work-related health issues, health entry assessment, and infectious disease identification and management.

Working from home leads to mental health challenges
Mental health is a top concern during work from home (Source: Adecco)

Meanwhile, even before the COVID-19 outbreak, mental health was recognised as a major concern and the new “tsunami” sweeping through the modern workplace. Mental health is at the top of the list of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also called lifestyle diseases, which affect mental well-being, productivity, and retention the most in the short term. Other NCDs following mental health problems are cardiac disease, all forms of cancer, diabetes, and respiratory diseases.

In Vietnam, employees also face barriers when discussing mental issues. The first obstacle is the widespread mental health stigma, especially in Asia, that prevents people from opening about their problems. Next, leaders have not perceived mental health first aid. Some businesses even force employees to work overtime, sometimes on weekends or holidays, to meet financial goals.

Adecco's survey shows that employees are hoping for more mental support from their employers. Allowing more flexibility and promoting a healthy work-life balance are the most popular mental supports nowadays. At the same time, employers can organise mindfulness activities or therapy sessions, provide training for the management team to identify symptoms of mental health issues as well as periodic health and wellness check-ins for employees.

According to Andree Mangels, general director of Adecco Vietnam, leaders should listen to the needs and concerns of their employees to provide timely support. This can be done through periodic surveys, one-on-one sessions, monthly town hall meetings, or anonymous feedback channels. The way leaders navigate the workforce during the pandemic can leave a mark in company culture and determine if employees stay for the long haul.

By Adecco Vietnam

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