Disruption of work relationships adds to mental-health concern
A recent Harvard study highlights how much emotional support we get from workplace relationships, and that it has not only been our jobs that the pandemic has disrupted, but these important informal ties as well.
The survey, conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's SHINE program, examined workplace well-being among 1,271 participants in 17 industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, construction, finance, arts, and health care. It found that the physical impacts of COVID-19 have been widespread, with 35 percent saying they or someone in their immediate family or social network had the virus. In addition, 32 percent said job security decreased, 44 percent said household income decreased, 40 percent said workload increased, and 52 percent said time spent on a computer screen increased.
"There's lots of data that increased screen time is not a good thing, but we leaned into it because that was our response to the pandemic," said Eileen McNeely, founder and executive director of SHINE, the Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise, which examines workplace well-being in an array of settings around the world.
Given the pandemic's widespread disruption of the economy, the task-related and financial changes may not be surprising, but the survey also documented an array of mental-health impacts that McNeely said are at least partly due to severed or altered workplace relationships that have become more important in an era where club membership, volunteer work, and other traditional means of social connectedness are on the decline.