Workers struggling with anxiety, stress say they’re less productive


It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about quiet quitting, bare minimum Monday, it’s “almost Friday” Thursday, or “I swear if there’s one meeting on my calendar” Friday—it’s obvious the American worker is going through it. Two-plus years of an isolating, anxiety-inducing pandemic gravely impacted people’s mental health. We worked through it for the most part, or simply dove right back in in the post-vaccinated world.

Three out of four U.S. employees, according to a new study from One Medical and Workplace Intelligence, say their mental and physical health either worsened or stayed the same in 2022—a year marked by pushes to return to “normal” and get workers back to their desks in corporate offices.

One Medical, a membership-based primary care practice, surveyed 1,600 U.S. workers and HR leaders, 64% of whom reported struggling with mental or behavioral health issues. As a result, 91% of those workers say they’re less productive. What’s more, 45% of employees struggling with mental health at work report a productivity loss of more than five hours a week.

The study lays out the major problem: As workers contend with higher levels of anxiety and stress at work and increased workloads, they’re unable to access the care and information they need from their employers to get help. More than half of the respondents say they feel overwhelmed when navigating the healthcare system, and despite the 64% of workers reporting struggling with mental health, only 19% say they used their company’s mental health care benefits in 2022. That’s partly because companies aren’t necessarily making it easy to navigate them.

“Employers have come a long way in their support of employees’ mental health, but workers aren’t making the most of the benefits available to them,” Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence, says in a statement. “It’s critical that companies focus on improving care navigation—including pointing people to primary care as a first step—if they want to move the needle on this issue. Those that don’t will continue to experience productivity losses and other negative outcomes that can result from poor workforce mental health.”

It’s clear that companies need to do more when it comes to addressing employee’s mental health. In a 2022 survey from PwC of more than 720 executives, roughly 62% acknowledged they had either already implemented, or have a plan in place to expand, mental health benefits for their workers. A little more than 20% of respondents said they were considering developing a plan.

There’s a benefit for companies to invest more both in developing their mental health programs and making sure employees understand and utilize them when needed. When they invest in mental health needs, companies tend to see a 4x return on their investment.

Plus, 97% of the HR leaders in One Medical’s survey agreed that providing healthcare benefits that are high-quality, patient-centered, and a good value increases job satisfaction, employee engagement, and their ability to recruit and retain employees—all leading to more productive workers.

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