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Survey Report

Mental/emotional health and social connections

2020 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey – U.S.

February 5, 2021

Discover employee perspectives on their work experience during COVID-19 and their wellbeing, retirement expectations and benefit preferences.
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Our Wellbeing Index reveals that while almost six in 10 full-time employees (57%) report they are physically thriving and roughly half (49%) say they are financially secure, only four in 10 (41%) report they are emotionally balanced and a third (34%) say they are socially connected. This represents a slight increase of 3% in both physical and financial wellbeing and a worrisome decrease of 5% in emotional wellbeing and 7% in social wellbeing over 2019.

Who is facing social and emotional wellbeing challenges?
  • Employees who experienced a change during the pandemic — for example, those new to working from home and those who have been furloughed or had hours reduced — are most likely to struggle with social connections and mental health issues.
  • Males, older workers and those earning $100,000 or more annually enjoy the highest levels of emotional wellbeing, while Gen Y and Gen Z employees, the disabled and LGBT+ employees are the most challenged in this area. Males, Gen Y employees and high earners have the highest levels of social wellbeing, while Gen Z employees, those earning less than $50,000 a year and LGBT+ employees have the lowest.

Males, older workers and those earning $100,000+/ year have the highest levels of emotional wellbeing. Gen Y and Gen Z employees, disabled, and LGBT+ employees are the most challenged in this area

Impact on the workplace
  • The pandemic produced a 5% increase in employees who suffer from stress or anxiety and have low to moderate social connections. In comparison with employees who score high across all four wellbeing dimensions, employees in this group have lower levels of engagement (16% vs. 67%), higher presenteeism (14.6 vs. 6.0 annual days lost) and a higher risk of turnover (34% vs. 16%).
  • It's essential to view wellbeing from an integrated perspective. This requires understanding how all wellbeing dimensions are interconnected and in particular, how issues with finances and physical health can impact social and emotional wellbeing.

The one in seven employees who report issues in all wellbeing dimensions are:

  • 7x more likely to have suffered stress, anxiety or depression in the past two years
  • 4x more likely to have much worse social connection as a result of the pandemic
  • 5x more likely to be dissatisfied with their current financial situation
  • 4x more likely to be disengaged
  • 12+ missed days per year due to presenteeism
How can employers make a positive impact?
  • Employers should design programs with an understanding of how social connections and emotional health influence other aspects of wellbeing.

For example, approximately six in 10 of those living paycheck to paycheck (57%) and those who have been furloughed (58%) are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. And roughly half of employees’ (49%) who are disconnected from their team or organization are suffering from emotional issues.

To improve employees mental/emotional wellbeing, employers should focus on listening and effective communication. Among those who report that their mental/emotional health improved during the pandemic, 71% say that their employer listened to how they want to be supported and 75% say that their employer communicated effectively during the pandemic.

  • It is important for companies to allow employees the flexibility to take wellness days, a key benefit employees seek to improve their social and emotional wellbeing. In particular, over half of women, older workers and employees earning under $100,000 favor this benefit. Wellness days can be integrated into overall time off and leave strategy.
  • Another preferred benefit in this area is access to counselors and mental health professionals (31%).

Next section: Health care use

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2020 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey PDF .8 MB
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