Nearly half of the UK workforce say their work is suffering due to poor mental health

24 August, 2022

London, UK – 24 August 2022 –  Nearly half of the UK workforce (45%) say their work is suffering as a result of poor mental health, according to the ADP® Research Institute’s People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View.

This rises to five in 10 (53%) of the 18-24 year-old cohort and 52% of 25-34 year olds, compared to two in 10 (26%) of the 55+ age, the survey of almost 1,400 workers in UK found.

The findings come as studies[1] indicate that, in addition to the anxiety induced by health fears and the uncertainty and disruption caused by lockdowns, COVID-19 infection itself can increase the risk of mental health problems developing, and mental health services have been interrupted in many countries. According to the charity Mind, a third of adults and young people say their mental health has gotten much worse since March 2020[2].

In addition, the frequent stress that many workers around the world were already feeling appears to have been exacerbated since the pandemic. With 14% of the UK workers say they experience stress at work at least once a week, and 19% feel stressed every day.

The most common cause of stress is having increased responsibility as a result of the pandemic, with 32% of workers saying so. Other key sources of stress include the length of the working day (for 27%), problems with technology (23%) and concerns over job security (22%)

The pandemic has also impacted in other ways, for instance, 8% UK workers said being asked if they are vaccinated is a cause of stress, while 7% of stress comes from having to share a workspace with someone they live with.

Sirsha Haldar, General Manager, ADP UK, Ireland & South Africa, comments: “An alarming number of people are struggling to do their jobs properly because of mental health issues. The last few years has put individuals – and the quality of the work they do – under more intense pressure than ever. Even the most enlightened employers must remain vigilant about this health crisis within a health crisis.”

“Whether staff are working from home or on the premises, it’s vital that managers can spot when someone is not coping with stress or getting swamped by their workload or pick up on other problems so team members can be offered help in a sensitive and timely manner.”

Six in 10 workers (64%) feel supported by their managers when it comes to mental health at work, and similarly, the same percentage (64%) feel supported by their colleagues.

Most employers (78%) are being proactive about finding new ways to support the mental health of their workforce. Chief among the initiatives being tried are: checking in or communicating with employees more (31% of workers say their employers are doing so), allowing wellbeing days off (21%), and providing stress management breaks such as access to a zen room, wellbeing activities, or meditation classes, or letting staff take additional breaks during the day (19%).

Nearly a quarter (17%) say their employers are offering access to special counselling, while (20%) are granting the right to disconnect from messages after working hours.

Sirsha says, “It’s encouraging to see so many employers being creative about how to ease the burden of mental health issues and stress among their staff. However, unless the causes are identified wherever possible and dealt with, the impact of all these well-intentioned schemes could be undermined.”

The report explores employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

For more insights, please read the ‘People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View’ report.

About the research

People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View explores employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

ADP Research Institute® surveyed 32,924 workers in 17 countries around the world between 1 November and 24 November 2021. This included:

  • 15,683 in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK)
  • 3,829 in North America (USA and Canada)
  • 5,768 in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil and Chile)
  • 7,644 in Asia Pacific (Australia, China, India and Singapore)

The survey was conducted online in the local language. Overall results were weighted to represent the size of the working population for each country. Weightings are based on labour force data from the World Bank, which is derived using data from the ILOSTAT database, the central statistics database of the International Labour Organization (ILO), as of 8 February 2022.


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Media Contact:

  • Palina Antonava
  • Hannah Coulton

[1] Sources include: Xie, Y; Xu, E and Al-Aly, Z, “Risks of mental health outcomes in people with Covid-19: cohort study”, February 2022, British Medical Journal (BMJ 2022;376:e068993). Geneva: World Health Organization, “The impact of COVID-19 on mental, neurological and substance use services: results of a rapid assessment”, 2020 (Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO). Peters, S; Dennerlein, J; Wagner, G; Sorensen, G, “Work and worker health in the post-pandemic world: a public health perspective”, February 2022, The Lancet. And Gordon, J, “One Year In: COVID-19 and Mental Health”, National Institute of Mental Health

[2] Source: Mind report “Coronavirus: the consequences for mental health: The ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people with mental health problems across England and Wales”, July 2021