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Half of U.S. Workers Say Job Pressure Impacts Their Mental Health More Than COVID-19

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By now, we’re aware that social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and sharing close quarters with a significant other and/or kids while working can take a toll on people’s mental health.

According to a new survey from The Conference Board, a nonprofit business membership and research group based in New York, nearly 6 in 10 (57%) American workers report their mental health has declined since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It turns out that work pressure is a central theme behind this issue. In fact, half of respondents feel work demands are taking a heavier toll than the coronavirus crisis.

Under pressure: Women, millennials report greatest mental health impact from workload-related stress

While half of The Conference Board respondents say workplace pressure is taking a hefty toll on their mental health, it’s impacting women and millennials the most.

In fact, 56% of women express this, versus only 37% of men. Across generations, 60% of millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) say their mental health has been negatively impacted by work, followed by:

  • 53% of Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1981)
  • 39% of baby boomers (born between 1946 to 1964)

Further, more than 2 in 5 (44%) survey participants say a blurring of work-life boundaries affects them, with a greater percentage of women and millennials sharing this sentiment. By gender, 48% of women and 34% of men report this. Meanwhile, 54% of millennials say this is the case, compared with 47% of Gen Xers and 32% of baby boomers.

While the pandemic has created stress in innumerable ways, a smaller percentage of respondents (37%) feel concerns about exposing those near and dear to COVID-19 have had a significant impact on their mental health:

  • Women: 41%
  • Men: 29%
  • Millennials: 50%
  • Gen Xers: 35%
  • Baby boomers: 33%

57% of workers say their mental health has declined amid crisis

It’s not surprising that nearly 6 in 10 (57%) U.S. workers say they experienced a deterioration in their mental health during the pandemic. A greater percentage of women (60%) say they experienced mental deterioration than men (48%). Meanwhile, 63% of millennials say their mental health suffered, compared with 59% of Gen Xers and 47% of baby boomers.

As for those who didn’t experience mental health changes during the crisis, about 4 in 10 (41%) baby boomers report no shift, compared with 29% of Gen Xers and 21% of millennials.

More U.S. workers (49%) stayed on top of their physical health regimen than those who did so with their mental health routine (30%). In fact, 28% of folks don’t have a regular mental health routine, versus only 4% who don’t have a health regimen. While 38% of men lack a mental health regimen, just 23% of women don’t have one. Lastly, baby boomers are the greatest culprit for not having a mental health regimen (34%), versus 27% of Gen Xers and 19% of millennials.

Flexible work arrangements can help improve mental health

Nearly 70% of respondents express that flexible work policies — think flexible work hours and remote or hybrid work arrangements — have helped with their mental health to some extent. This is in line with previous research that more U.S. workers are looking for flexible work arrangements.

Half of survey respondents with access to formal workplace policies that support work-life balance cite them as most effective. Behind this is activities that promote belonging and social wellness (48%) and incentives to develop healthy habits (41%).

MORE: LendingTree found that 25% of consumers in May 2021 thought about starting a business within the past year. Consumers considering this route due to job pressures could look into startup business loans to take the next step.

Methodology: The Conference Board surveyed more than 1,800 U.S. workers across various industries, fielded between Sept. 16-29, 2021.


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