C-suite executives face mental health challenges through COVID

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 10 February, 2022 - 12:30
Industry news
National News

Mental health challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted workers differently depending on their seniority, generation and location according to a recent research report.

It found C-level executives have struggled the most with adapting to remote work realities and are suffering from mental health issues more than their employees, but they are also the most open to finding help in AI.

The research report, which took in 12,347 employees, managers, HR leaders and C-Suite executive across 11 countries, found C-suite executives (53 per cent) have struggled with mental health issues in the workplace more than their employees (45 per cent).

Furthermore, C-suite executives also had the hardest time adapting to virtual lifestyles with 85 per cent reporting significant remote work challenges including collaborating with teams virtually (39 per cent), managing increased stress and anxiety (35 per cent), and lacking workplace culture (34 per cent).

The report, which was conducted by Oracle and HR research and advisory firm Workplace Intelligence, also found C-suite executives are the most open to using AI for help with mental health: 73 per cent would prefer to talk to a robot (i.e. chatbots and digital assistants) about their mental health over a human, compared to 61 per cent of other employees.

The report also found nearly 90 per cent of Gen Z workers said COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health and 94 per cent noted workplace stress impacts their home life as well.

Gen Z workers are twice as likely than Baby Boomers to work extra hours during the pandemic, and Millennials are 130 per cent more likely to have experienced burnout than Baby Boomers.

Overall, 78 per cent of workers say the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health, while 76 per cent of people believe their company should be doing more to protect their mental health.

“Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, companies can use this moment as a catalyst for positive change in their organisations,” said Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Workplace Intelligence.

“While the pandemic raised the urgency for companies to start protecting the mental health of their employees, the efforts they put in now will continue to create happier, healthier and more engaged workforces in the decades to come.”

Emily He, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM, said the pandemic put employee mental health in the global spotlight.

“The way the pandemic changed our work routines makes burnout, stress and other mental health issues all too easy,” she said.

“Everyone has been affected in different ways and the solutions each company puts in place need to reflect the unique challenges of employees.”