A new study reveals that around three-quarters of employees state that artificial intelligence (AI) has improved their mental health and wellbeing at work. HRreview asks whether AI is the key to supporting employees.

According to a new survey by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, the former company being a database software and technology provider whilst the latter is a HR research and advisory firm, many people worldwide have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

This research shows that almost eight out of 10 (78 per cent) people claim that the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health.

This number rises when considering the amount of people who state their mental health issues spill over into their personal lives. Around 85 per cent of employees have reported their mental health issues causing problems outside of work including sleep deprivation, reduced happiness, suffering family relationships and isolation.

These statistics paint a worrying picture when considering the rise of mental health problems and an increase in working from home.

However, this research shows a promising solution as utilising AI has shown to significantly help mental health issues.

Three-quarters of the employees surveyed said that AI improved their mental health at work. Over three in 10 (31 per cent) stated that AI reduces stress levels by giving employees the information they need to do their job more effectively.

Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) said AI was useful in automating tasks and decreasing workloads which would ultimately prevent burnout. Over a quarter (27 per cent) stated that AI helped employees to prioritise tasks.

Over half (51 per cent) responded that AI allowed them to shorten their work weeks and allows them to take longer holidays.

83 per cent of employees even stated that they wanted their company to provide them with technology that would support their mental health including wellness and meditation apps, on-demand counselling services and self-service to health resources.

Eugenia Migliori, Principal Policy Advisor for Employment at CBI, said:

Employers’ role in supporting staff’s health and wellbeing has never been more important. Many businesses have stepped up and supported their staff’s mental health and wellbeing throughout the pandemic and technology has played a crucial role – from online social activities to tailored mental health plans to assist employees.

The months ahead will be challenging and with the winter coming, employers must double down efforts and play a greater role in supporting the mental health of their workforce.

  Alexandra Anders, Senior Director of Talent EMEA at Cornerstone, said:

Caught up in the hectic day-to-day, mental health in the workplace can still be pushed to the side but telling someone to simply buck up or pull themselves together, even as joke, is not only patronising, it will do more damage.  

Organisations need to help managers recognise when it’s time to suggest someone more qualified. But simply taking the time to reach out and ask someone if they need to chat can go a long way.  

It’s also up to managers to help create an environment of transparency and open communication, where employees are comfortable opening up, feeling no shame or guilt for discussing and dealing with personal issues or fearing potential consequences.

There is no point just introducing a bunch of HR initiatives, these attitudes of openness and acceptance need to be lived, ingrained in the company culture and driven by employees. Empathy must be recognised as a strength and employees need to be viewed holistically as a person, not just a productivity tool – there’s a reason human is the first word in HR.  

 

*Research findings are based on a survey conducted by Savanta, Inc. between July 16 – August 4, 2020. 12,347 global respondents (from the US, UK, UAE, France, Italy, Germany, India, Japan, China, Brazil, and Korea) were asked general questions to explore leadership and employee attitudes around mental health.