Worldwide research into how COVID is impacting workers found that during the first lockdown, COVID increased rates of burnout by 15% globally, increasing to an incredible 81% in ‘non-thriving’ company cultures.

These are the findings from O.C. Tanner’s 2021 Global Culture Report which surveyed 40,000 employees and leaders across the world including over 1,600 from the UK.

With people facing mass pandemic-related anxiety, O.C. Tanner wants companies to ease the pressures on workers and put a focus on their wellbeing. This includes disregarding ‘National Sickie Day’ (1st February 2021) which puts the spotlight on workers who ‘throw a sickie’.

Robert Ordever, Managing Director of workplace culture expert at O.C. Tanner Europe, said: “Burnout was a growing issue pre-pandemic and is now spiralling as a result of COVID.

“Workers have been dealing with the immense emotional, social and financial challenges brought about by the COVID-19 fallout and so many will be suffering from anxiety at best and severe burnout at worst.”

In fact, the research found that during the first lockdown, UK workers took 68% more days off than normal in order to avoid work, and 53% of UK workers dreaded going to work. On top of this, 38% admitted that things they used to tolerate at work were starting to bother them and nearly half (48%) confessed that they had nothing more to give in their job.

Ordever added: “The signs of burnout include dreading work and trying to avoid it, as well as exhaustion and feelings of futility. More than ever, workers need support and understanding from their organisations, and this includes forgetting days such as ‘National Sickie Day’ which whitewashes the seriousness and complexities of the current situation.”

And it appears that organisations aren’t created equal when it comes to burnout rates with COVID increasing burnout in more toxic, non-thriving cultures by 81%. In thriving cultures, COVID has increased burnout by just 13%.

COVID’s impact on levels of staff engagement in different workplace cultures is also variable, with thriving cultures experiencing just a one per cent drop in engagement. For non-thriving cultures, this figure is a massive 52%.

Ordever finished: “It’s important for organisations to take a long, hard look at their cultures if they’re being badly affected by staff absences and poor engagement rates. When workers feel valued, respected, cared for and a sense of belonging, then burnout and absenteeism are dramatically reduced.”