Mental health is at the top of the agenda for many industries, particularly following a hellish 18 months caused by the Covid-19 crisis. But what’s the situation like in tech? Unfortunately, the picture isn’t looking too rosy.
A study from Westfield Health has found that around 44% of IT sector professionals have noticed an impact on their mental health since the pandemic began. In its Coping after Covid report, researches noted that around 34% of respondents are finding themselves feeling anxious about work, while 20% are struggling to adjust to new ways of working – such as remote or hybrid working and using video conferencing technology.
Mental health concerns for the industry outside of coronavirus
It isn’t just the pandemic that has caused mental health issues in tech, although it may have exacerbated underlying problems. A study by the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) in
2019 found that 52% of digital and tech professionals have experienced depression or anxiety at least once in their working lives. To put this into perspective, this is around 5 times the national average.
Why is tech so prone to mental health problems? The situation is complex, but experts point to the lightning speed of growth within the industry and the demands placed on workers to keep up.
Alongside long, exhausting working hours and workplace stress, some parts of the industry also suffer from a frustrating gender pay gap and a lack of inclusion and diversity. All of this contributes to a worsening mental health problem across the sector.
What can employers do to support their workers?
An immediate priority for tech employers is to put mental health support front and centre. Around 77% are already reasonably supportive, according to research by Harvey Nash. But for others, a major change is needed.
If nothing else, there’s a strong business case for bolstering mental health HR policies. Organisations that provide supportive workplaces are able to attract and retain the best talent, motivate and engage their workforce, and bring more innovation to their clients.
Support for wellbeing needs to be embedded into the culture and ethos of the business. According to the Westfield Health research, nearly 60% of HR leaders want to do more in the way of offering mental health support – but are obstructed by company culture or structure.
In some cases, support isn’t enough. Around 40% of tech workers want long-term changes to the way they work, offering more flexibility and work-life balance. It could be that to make a real difference, employers need to rip up the current playbook and start from scratch.
The changes to working methods ushered in by the Covid-19 pandemic offers an ideal opportunity for employers to focus on balance, flexibility and support for workers. And crucially, on productivity and output, rather than working hours or time spent in the office.
If you’re looking for your next challenge in tech, or are in need of an innovative recruitment solution, get in touch with the experts at UMATR.