Nearly 40% of Irish workers are struggling with everyday life during the Covid-19 pandemic with 91% reporting experiencing a rise in anxiety, new research from Laya Healthcare has shown.
More than half of surveyed workers cited the prospect of a second coronavirus wave as a source of anxiety.
However, only one in 10 Irish workers are receiving help for their mental health and almost eight out of 10 workers in Ireland have not taken any sick leave since March.
29% of workers reported difficulties accessing GPs and the same percentage said they feared visiting a surgery for an appointment.
A survey of 1,000 employees across different industries and sectors also revealed one in three workers has an underlying condition such as diabetes, asthma, and cardiac issues.
The research found 30% of respondents reported loneliness and isolation were the major issues when working from home and 40% of workers gave reduced interaction with work colleagues as a cause.
Sinead Proos, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Laya Healthcare said the future of work in the coming months is going to be "incredibly challenging" and that investment is needed to build worker's long term resilience during the coronavirus pandemic.
“These results highlight the implications we must consider as we try to work and maintain ‘business as usual’ during a pandemic. The majority of Irish workers (91%) reported some level of anxiety, in part due to concern about getting sick from Covid-19, family and friends getting sick and worrying about a second surge," said Ms Proos.
Ms Proos also said vulnerable workers need to be supported and highlighted the significant costs required to do so. She also said employers need to be aware of how their workforce is coping in the near future.
“To address workers’ concerns, protect the one in three employees who are vulnerable workers and fully comply with health and safety guidelines, long-term investment in building resources, education and training needs to be made.
"With over 270,000 companies operating in Ireland, the total cost of returning employees to workplaces could well be in the region of €10bn.
"Early intervention and a culture of resilience needs to be prioritised to manage people’s mental and physical wellbeing long-term — both for those working in the office and remotely.
"Irish employers should ask themselves: ‘Is my workforce coping, and if not, do we have the right tools to support them over the coming months and years?’,” said Ms Proos.
The research from Laya Healthcare reported that companies in Ireland predict the average cost of returning employees to the workplace would be €37,138 with expenditure on wellness programmes and personal protective equipment (PPE) provision. 14% of Irish companies are predicting costs of €50,000 or more.
Larger organisations were more likely to provide mental wellbeing support to staff when returning to the workplace however 45% of employers in the pharmaceutical and manufacturing industry and IT sector were reported to be doing so.
39% of employers in other sectors were reported to be providing mental wellbeing support to staff.