Industry employees anxious and unmotivated to return to office, survey finds

Staff well-being needs to be greater priority for businesses, Nabs says.

Anxiety: many do not feel ready to return to office
Anxiety: many do not feel ready to return to office

The ad industry is facing a major slump in employee motivation due to the Covid-19 crisis, according to a Nabs survey. 

The organisation conducted a poll of more than 500 industry employees on their job status, working challenges, pressures and coping mechanisms. The results point to a greater need for businesses to prioritise the well-being of staff, Nabs chief executive Diana Tickell said. 

When asked what they were struggling with the most during lockdown, 57% of respondents cited a lack of motivation and drive, while 52% said it was anxiety. Only 6% of employees said they were not struggling with any well-being issues. 

Additionally, just 12% of participants said their company’s approach to the Covid-19 crisis had focused on employee well-being. 

Managers are also seeking more support from their employers – 43% said they wanted additional help to better manage their teams and cope with the increased emotional challenges among staff. 

As many businesses prepare to reopen offices, 61% of employees said they felt a return to the workplace would be unsafe or increase their anxiety. However, working at home is also presenting challenges, with 51% reporting suffering from physical problems due to at-home working and 48% saying they are not getting enough exercise.

Despite these challenges, the majority of employees said they wanted more flexible working in the future. Eighty-eight per cent want to work from home more and 48% were keen for more flexible start and finish times to support their transition back to the office. 

However, 76% were missing the spontaneous conversations, rapport and social aspects of work. Only 16% said they never wanted to return to the office again. 

Tickell said: "We’re at a critical juncture as an industry. Now’s the time to rebuild and recalibrate our culture. Businesses must look after employee well-being, giving them flexibility, autonomy, trust and freedom.

"We need open and empathetic leadership and communication to create this culture. In doing so, we’ll give our employees the confidence to come back into work."


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