A new report by Karian and Box, UK PLC: How the workforce is feeling during the coronavirus crisis, found 27% of UK PLC employees did not feel supported at work across the past two months.
More than a quarter (29%) said they felt unable to juggle their work and personal lives during lockdown, while 42% reported feelings of anxiety.
This led to 25% of working stating they lacked motivation and 30% feeling vulnerable.
While the majority (87%) said they have been kept informed by their organisation about the impact of the virus on their working lives, and 77% said their organisation was adapting quickly to new ways of doing business, a third (32%) of UK workers said they did not have confidence in their business leaders to navigate the coronavirus crisis.
Businesses whose employees were feeling motivated and confident were characterised by the visibility of their leaders, the practical wellbeing support they were offering employees, and the community action they were engaging in - such as donating time and money to the NHS.
Professor Vlatka Hlupic, of Hult Ashridge Executive Education, said the virus is encouraging greater polarity.
“On one end of the spectrum we see polarisation around fear, worry and desperation for individual employees and organisations.
“On the other end of the spectrum we see individuals and organisations that are doing well during a crisis, that are feeling hopeful and supported, and that are acting as a force for good, such as by supporting organisations like the NHS.”
The report also reflects employees’ concerns for the future. Workers’ top question (chosen by 28%) for their employers was “What are the plans for returning to normal ways of working/in offices?”
This comes as the government encourages workers to return to the workplace if they cannot work from home and the Adam Smith Institute proposes a ‘four days on, ten days off’ work rota to mitigate a second spike in coronavirus cases.
However, an additional quarter (24%) of workers wanted to know whether they could work from home more after the pandemic.
Others queried how their employers will ensure employee safety after lockdown and whether there could be more advice for employees with family commitments.
Hlupic added: “This report shows that the role of leaders is crucial. Leaders who are humane, compassionate and communicative, showing authentic empathy and a genuine effort to promote the well-being of employees, will inspire optimism, positivity and hope for the future.
“Employees want to feel supported, secure and inspired by their leaders, and from as this report shows, many employees do not want to go back to old ways of working.
“They have shown that they do not need to be micromanaged, that they can be given responsibilities to do the work where and when they can whilst balancing family responsibilities at the same time.”
Karian and Box’s report is based on surveys of 76,558 UK PLC employees between 9 March and 6 May 2020.