Majority of workforce suffering from lock-down lethargy

03 July 2020 3 min. read
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Almost 90% of UK workers are suffering from some level of lethargy while working from home, according to a new study. As lock-down conditions continue to isolate many employees, bosses need to take action to help staff feel supported, and boost their energy levels.

While fears of a protracted economic impact from the Covid-19 crisis have deepened in recent weeks, many businesses have also reported that productivity is up, thanks to the positive impacts home working have had on the lives of staff. Of firms with staff still working from home, a recent Eden McCallum survey found that 43% had enjoyed a positive impact on productivity, compared to just 29% saying the opposite.

Part of this may be down to the fact many firms also reported an improved work-life balance among staff. Around 62% said that the balance was better than before the lock-down, perhaps thanks to the fact employees no longer lose hours out of their day sitting in traffic as they commute to the office.

How would you describe your energy levels in lockdown?

The impacts have not only been positive, however. Research suggests employees have endured a massive blow to their mental health during the lock-down, with one Savanta poll showing the net impact of the crisis has been a 27 point decline in staff mental health. As workers continue to struggle to focus on work, while their mental health comes under intense pressure, a new survey has further found that many workers are fast running out of energy at work.

Professional services firm Actus polled around 130 people on LinkedIn, and estimate accordingly that around nine-in-ten UK workers currently suffering from some level of ‘lockdown lethargy,’ with have lower energy levels than normal while working from home. Of those polled, 34% said their energy was lower than usual, while 54% said it was fluctuating. In contrast, only 16% said their energy level was about the same or higher than usual.

Commenting on the findings, Lucinda Carney, CEO of Actus, said, “If you speak to colleagues and clients across the board, they talk about feelings of tiredness despite getting adequate sleep. Covid-19 has taken an invisible toll on energy levels and is a worrying consequence for leaders trying to motivate their staff back to ‘normal’.”

In light of this, Carney, a Chartered Psychologist with 20 years of Corporate HR experience and Psychology, also issued a five-step guide to boosting business energy. According to the Actus CEO, first and foremost, bosses should “focus on the human” before discussing a task with them. This will help understand and accommodate the unique circumstances of staff.

Organisations also need to enforce breaks; either by encouraging shortened days, or highlighting the mental and physical advantages of a recharge period. Meanwhile, speaking one-to-one over the phone can help make employees feel included, while avoiding the exhaustion of a video call, or the coldness of messaging.

Showing appreciation is another key way to help battle lock-down lethargy. Virtual working can be draining, and leave staff feeling disconnected from the bigger picture – something which showing appreciation for good work can help amend. Finally, creating open dialogues around energy levels, wellbeing and sleep are key to helping staff stay energised – and bosses can help to do this by sharing anecdotes of their own personal struggles in this regard, to show employees it is OK to share.