Towards World Mental Health Day 2020, LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network, has released key survey data from April to September 2020 to highlight how pandemic stress and remote work burnout have adversely impacted the mental health of professionals in India. Findings show that 2 in 5 (39%) professionals are experiencing increased stress or anxiety due to COVID-19, and as the pandemic took hold only 1 in 5 professionals were offered more time off for well-being.
The economic repercussions of the ongoing pandemic have made Indian professionals vulnerable to job uncertainty, financial instability, and bleak company outlook, while continuing to work remotely in social isolation. This special ‘mental health’ edition of the fortnightly LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index highlights the need for stronger employer support in these times of distress, and complements the vision of World Mental Health Day 2020, which aims to improve and democratize access to mental health services.
3 in 5 Indian professionals have felt lonely at some point when working remotely
Findings reflect that 51% of the Indian workforce is working remotely due to COVID-19, and continues to question the effectiveness of remote work as professionals experience increased stress and anxiety. Findings also show that while 60% of Indian professionals had felt lonely at some point while working remotely, 37% still feel lonely doing it now. More than 1 in 3 Indian professionals also believe that working remotely is slowing down their career progression (41%), it is making them feel more lonely (37%), and harming their work-life balance (36%).
Only 1 in 4 Indian professionals offered flexible work hours and well-being support
LinkedIn data displays the employees’ appeal for stronger well-being support as findings show that only 1 in 4 (23%) Indian professionals were being offered emotional well-being initiatives and flexible work hours by their employers in the early months of the lockdown. Findings also show that only 1 in 5 (21%) professionals were getting more time off through paid or unpaid leaves, while 42% think their companies will not continue to do so after the pandemic. Today, as industries attempt to bounce back, close to 40% of Indian professionals continue to experience financial instability, signalling towards high levels of financial stress and uncertainty prevalent amongst India’s workforce.
1 in 3 working mothers are working longer hours to provide childcare
The pandemic has taken a toll on working parents, especially working mothers, as findings show that around 1 in 3 working mothers in India are currently providing childcare full time (28%), and working outside their business hours to provide childcare (33%). Data further suggests that working mothers are more likely to cope with distractions from childcare, as 36% say they are unable to focus on work with children at home, compared to 25% of working fathers. Men are also more likely to seek support from friends and family as only 23% of working mothers rely on a family member or friend to take care of their children, compared to 31% of working fathers.
Risk of exposure, inadequate workplace safety measures worry Indian professionals
As India begins to return to work, 50% of professionals still express concerns about the risk of exposure to those who don’t take safety precautions seriously. More than 1 in 3 professionals are also worried about workplace sanitation (36%), exposure to large groups of people in meetings or in public (34%), and uncertain workplace safety guidelines (34%), which further compounds their distress towards an uncertain future of work.
Commenting on the findings, Ashutosh Gupta, India Country Manager, Linkedin said, “The ongoing stress around the 3 Rs — Remote work, Return to work, and Risk of exposure — are adversely impacting the mental health of Indian professionals. Companies in India are beginning to bolster their mental health programmes to support their employees in such times. At LinkedIn, we have enhanced our people initiatives to include increased professional counselling sessions and other well-being programmes. Your professional community can also be a pillar of strength right now, and we encourage our members to continue to reach out and seek help from others on the platform.”
To help professionals adapt to the new normal, LinkedIn has also made a few relevant LinkedIn Learning courses available for free. Learning paths like Master In-Demand Professional Soft Skills and Finding a Job During Challenging Economic Times can help professionals navigate their careers and develop resilience during these testing times.
Today, many business leaders, HR leaders, and influential voices on LinkedIn have spoken up about mental health on the platform. Hansi Mehrotra, The Money Hans; Sujoy Sengupta, Partner, McKinsey and Company; Adhil Shetty, CEO, Bankbazaar; Priyank Parakh, Director HR, GSK; and Hari TN, Big Basket, have shared posts about how their companies are supporting their employees during the pandemic. Their posts discuss how companies are helping employees take care of their mental health by seeding mindfulness in the workplace environment, extending counselling programmes, offering more wellness leaves, and listening more to empathise with their workers. Several companies are also enrolling in awareness and outreach programs to understand how they can help employees take care of their mental health in these times of distress.
Check out this storyline and member commentary on LinkedIn, and participate in this opinion poll (What has been the biggest challenge to mental well-being amid Covid-19 for you?) to see what India’s professionals are talking about on World Mental Health Day.
All findings around the mental health of Indian professionals are based on the online survey responses of 16,199 professionals over the past six months as part of the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index, which is a fortnightly pulse on the confidence of the Indian workforce.