News of Layoffs Causes Anxiety Amid Remote Workers

March 28, 2023 thehrobserver-hrobserver-layoffs

The anxiety employees are facing now is different from the one they faced in 2020.

One in three employees report feeling anxious at work most of the time, due to widespread layoffs, budget freezes amid uncertain economy.

In a survey conducted by researchers as Humu, anxious employees are 56% more likely to report a decline in their  productivity over the past six months. 

They wrote that remote employees were 32% more likely to feel anxious due to the news about layoffs and were far more concerned about getting a new manager during a reorg. Meanwhile, people who go to the office at least some of the time were 24% less likely to report an impact on their productivity over the past six months due to the uncertainty of their job.

The researchers wrote that work anxiety is due to  three sources. The first is the “media – people are hearing about layoffs” through the news and social media. The second is “reorganisations within reporting structures,” which tend to go hand in hand with layoffs. The third which is the most significant is due to lack of prioritisation and direction

“And people who feel directionless at work are three times more likely to say that they feel general anxiety at work most days – an enormous effect that we do not see when it comes to concerns about leadership changes, reorgs, or seeing colleagues getting laid off,” wrote Sara Gottlieb-Cohen, PhD, Senior Data Scientist.

According to the research, the majority of employees say that they would forgo a higher salary for greater stability. The researchers analysed free-text responses from over 80,000 employees about what makes their manager unique and found that statements like, “Makes me feel valued” and, “Makes me feel comfortable” differentiated the most effective managers from average ones.

Humu said that 89% of human resources leaders said that their teams have recently voiced concerns about job security, leadership changes, or reorgs.Therefore, it is important to “train leaders and managers” to have frequent check-ins and one on one meetings centered around short- and long-term goals. 

“We also find that the best managers excel in two specific ways, both of which are especially pertinent during times of change and uncertainty. First, great managers take the time to connect with their teams on a human level – they make their employees feel valued, heard, and respected,” wrote Gottlieb-Cohen.

She added  that effective managers exercise flexibility in their management strategies meaning they listen to their teams’ needs, respond to feedback, and are willing to try new approaches.

The firm said that the anxiety employees are facing now is different from the one they faced in 2020. During the lockdown, employees were burned out  and concerned about work-life balance and family support. Nonetheless, they were looking for growth. Currently, employees  are de-prioritizing growth and instead seeking stability. 

The majority of the respondents said that they would like their next job opportunity to provide career growth. However, they have also said they would forego career growth for a job that afforded them more stability.

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