As the imminent deadline approaches for the end of the furlough scheme, new research finds that UK employees’ mental health is being most impacted by financial troubles. 

A new report conducted by My Online Therapy, a virtual psychology clinic, shows that almost seven in 10 (69 per cent) UK employees have found that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Specifically, just under half (49 per cent) of all British employees have expressed their fear at the furlough scheme ending (which is due to occur on the 31st October).

Furthermore, over half (54 per cent) are concerned that either they or someone in their household will lose their job as a result of the furlough scheme winding down.

As a result, over seven in 10 (71 per cent) confessed to being stressed over whether they will have enough money to pay their rent, mortgage and utility bills. Under 70 per cent (67 per cent) are anxious about whether they will have enough money to pay for necessities such as food and clothing.

Changes linked to work (33 per cent) and life (26 per cent) have led to large levels of anxiety and worsening mental health for some respondents.

Kimberly Cassady, Chief Talent Officer at Cornerstone, a software company, offered guidance to HR in order to support their employees’ mental health:

It’s the responsibility of the leadership and HR teams to create a safe working space for employees every single day and to continue to engage workers even while remote. Employees are looking to HR for guidance and support during this stressful time.

They want to know that they can take care of themselves and their families—through sick leave, remote work or flexible schedules—without penalty. It’s incredibly important that organisations are giving options to their people, not only because it’s the right thing to do during a public health crisis, but because the way a company reacts during this particular moment will have an impact on the overall employee experience.

For leadership teams especially, it can be tempting to try to inspire employees during stressful times with shows of calm and confidence. But there’s a fine line between demonstrating steadiness and coming off as cold and unempathetic. In doing so, we risk alienating our colleagues and teams.

Moreover, while trying to maintain a business-as-usual attitude might be well-intentioned, it can give employees the sense that the company is prioritising the business over its employees. People need to know they are safe and supported, and furthermore, they are hoping the companies they work for are willing to be open on a deeply human level.


* Research was conducted by My Online Therapy on the 1st October-6th October 2020 and compiled this information from 1,000 respondents.