How older workers are holding up during the pandemic

Jan 28, 2021

At this point, it seems safe to say that working from home is here to stay. The pandemic has helped shatter long-held negative perceptions about working from home and has given millions of people who never had the opportunity to work from home the chance to “try it out.” And while many are thriving in the new work-from-home economy, it hasn’t been rainbows and unicorns for everyone.

A new global study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence of people between the ages of 22 and 74 found that the pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of 78% of the global workforce. And 85% say that mental health issues at work are bleeding into their home lives. In the United States, the number of adults experiencing depression has tripled since the outbreak began. Stress and anxiety have been on the rise too.

So, we at WAHVE were curious — how are older workers holding up? According to the study, older age groups are less worried about mental health compared to younger counterparts. In fact, 73% of millennials (26 to 37) said they’ve had more stress at work than any year before compared to 59% of baby boomers (55 to 74).

The study doesn’t say why this may be the case, but we believe that age and experience is a benefit when it comes to navigating change in the workplace. Older workers have seen many changes during their careers and have grown the skills of adaptation and resilience. It’s the “been there, done that” advantage that helps older workers combat typical workplace stressors. On a practical level, most older workers may not feel as stressed because they haven’t had to deal with the chaos of raising and homeschooling kids while working through the pandemic.

Still, 59% isn’t a statistic that makes any of us breathe a sigh of relief. Stress and anxiety are affecting all ages in the workplace at an unprecedented rate – and in the same Oracle and Workplace Intelligence study, 76% of people said companies should be doing more to support the mental health of their employees. Requested services include self-service access to health resources, on-demand counseling services, wellness or meditation apps, and even chatbot services.  Interestingly, 68% of respondents said they’d prefer to talk to a robot (i.e.: chatbot) instead of their manager about workplace stress and only 18% of people preferred humans to robots because robots are non-judgmental and unbiased.

Mental health has become a top workplace challenge, and employers who can offer the best support to their employees will reap the benefits in terms of team effectiveness, organizational productivity and individual performance.

What are you doing to help support the mental health of your employees? Let us know below.


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