In a recent pilot study, South Africa’s leading management and technology consulting firm, IQbusiness, revealed that over 66% of office-based employees surveyed are experiencing extreme stress, anxiety and depression. According to the WHO, depression and anxiety disorders have a significant economic impact, with an estimated cost to the global economy of US$1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
The pilot study by IQbusiness probed employee trauma levels of staff at a large, national professional services firm this September. The study tested key empirical indicators of trauma including financial constraints, breakdowns in close relationships, retrenchments or caring for a loved one. The results further revealed that:
92% are concerned by the state of South Africa’s economy and the possible implications it would have for themselves and their loved ones
54% reported that they were experiencing financial strain
Over 69% were mentally affected by the state of poverty on the news and around them.
“As vaccination numbers increase and people slowly return to their offices, businesses will need to swiftly identify and respond to a multitude of unanticipated risks and issues. We are already seeing businesses struggle to adapt to yet another ‘new normal’” said Adam Craker, CEO of IQbusiness.
Nadine Rix, Head of Governance, Risk and Compliance at IQbusiness added “the people who are returning to the physical workplace are fundamentally different to the individuals who left their offices in March 2020. We’ve experienced traumatic life events resulting from restrictive lockdowns, home schooling our children, suffering illness, job loss and loss of life in our network of family and friends”.
Immediate risks to businesses would include absenteeism, decreased productivity and a lack of engagement. “There are practical steps companies can take to achieve organisational resilience. But the first step is to understand the problem, the symptoms and the actions required” shared Rix.
IQbusiness has developed a unique Employee Trauma Tool (ETT) that can gather immediate insights from a business’ workforce. The ETT enables businesses to deepen their organisational resilience by directly measuring how their workforce is coping and the level of trauma they have or are experiencing. The ETT is further able to evaluate if existing risk mitigation plans, controls and support programmes are delivering.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how resilient South Africans are. But the human emotional cost is mounting and our businesses and organisations must take a proactive approach to address the systemic trauma employed South Africans have experienced – or we run the risk of lost productivity, absenteeism, high attrition rates, and overall low employee morale. Our economy and people simply cannot afford it” concluded Craker.
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