Research finds work more stressful since start of pandemic

2nd October 2020

More than half (59%) of Scotland’s working population have found work more stressful since the start of the pandemic, new research has revealed.

Carried out by YouGov on behalf of SAMH, the survey, which looked specifically at attitudes within the workplace, also found that the figure is highest amongst a younger age group, with almost two thirds (64%) of workers aged between 18-34 reporting an increase in stress.

The majority of Scottish workers (51%) also believe that their employer could do more to support mental health issues in the workplace, with this figure again rising in younger demographics. Two thirds (66%) per cent of workers aged between 18-34 agreed their employer could do more, compared to 43 per cent of workers aged 45 and above. 

With mental ill-health the leading cause for absence at work according to a 2019 CIPD study, SAMH is calling for employers to place more of a focus on mental health on employee wellbeing strategies as the impact of the pandemic leaves employees at risk of developing – or worsening – mental health problems as a direct impact of their workplace experiences.

Julie-Ann Murphy, Head of HR at SAMH, said:

“There is no doubt that the changes to everyday life have had a resounding impact on the workplace, leaving many employers in the unprecedented position of having to implement and adopt new working practices almost overnight. 

“However, we’re now six months on, the virus is still spreading, and job security remains uncertain for a large number of people. Now is the time for businesses to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. 

“It’s particularly concerning that younger age groups – those at the beginning or earlier in their careers – are those most likely to have increased levels of stress. This, coupled with a perceived lack of support from employers, highlights a real and present need for action.

“We understand that it can be challenging to know where to begin, and so we stand ready to support businesses as they prioritise their staff’s mental health”.

One business which has seen the benefits of putting a focus on mental wellbeing is East Ayrshire Carers, who recently put several employees through professional mental wellbeing training from SAMH, facilitated by Community Jobs Scotland. It’s also trialling a pilot with the Council of Voluntary Organisations (East Ayrshire) and Crisis to provide counselling services to all staff, as well the provision of a stress management service through its insurance providers.   

To help businesses become more supportive for people with mental health problems, SAMH has launched a range of new Workplace Wellbeing training programmes. Available via videoconferencing, the courses cover mental health awareness, managing mental health at work and how to support someone.

As well as longer-term training programmes, SAMH also has some advice on immediate steps businesses can take, including:

  • Allowing flexible working and promoting a healthy work-life balance
  • Appointing a dedicated mental health advocate within the workplace
  • Regularly communicating what support is available for anyone who may be struggling, such as employee assistance programmes or occupational health

For more information on SAMH Workplace Wellbeing training, visit or email