This is certainly the concern of a recent study. Physical or mental exhaustion, stress, increased workload… The restart of the activity after confinement due to the pandemic did not go smoothly for some leaders. Diagnosis.

This survey on the well-being and resilience of senior management was conducted by Canadian provider LifeWorks Wellness Solutions (formerly Morneau Shepell) and Deloitte, in April 2021, with nearly 1,200 senior leaders in 9 industries in the private and public sectors, in Canada and the United States, through Europe or Africa.

The most striking figure is certainly this one: more than half (51%) of respondents plan to change their work or pace in the future! In detail, the breakdown of responses is as follows:

  • 23% consider resigning, one in four
  • 16% think about moving to a less demanding role
  • 15% consider retiring
  • 13% would like to take a leave of absence
  • and 6%, to work part time.

These are figures that can obviously hinder the recovery of businesses following the pandemic. Again, these are high-responsibility positions. If the heads of the companies falter, it is the strategy of the latter that can be questioned.

The reasons for this demotivation and even disengagement are many. Let us understand them better.

Already, the survey of these employees in one- and two-level positions under the CEO provides initial clues:

  • The vast majority of respondents (82%) finish their working day mentally or physically exhausted
  • 59% are unable to relax or take a break
  • Half (49%) have trouble sleeping
  • And 43% report increased irritability

Senior leaders have gone through a period of feeling exponential pressure to deliver results, while dealing with personal disruption from the pandemic and extraordinary business disruption,” said Paula Allen, global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing, LifeWorks.

A risk of overwork

The first stressor cited was an increase in workload relative to the pre-pandemic period. For example, the vast majority (79%) of participants report working more hours than usual since the beginning of the pandemic.

There is also a strong correlation between the number of additional hours and the reported deterioration in participants’ mental health. However, working the same number of hours (19%) or fewer hours (2%) did not prevent the deterioration of mental health among more than one-third (35%) of participants, given changes in the nature of work, for example.

But also the taboo of vulnerability

Another underlying problem is the perceived stigma associated with issues at work. Half of the participants (55%) are concerned about what would happen to their careers if their workplace was aware they had a mental health issue. Especially as the social relations, traditional decompression valves, have become distorted with the forced recourse to telework.

A third of participants (32%) indicated that their relationships with their peers worsened during the pandemic. And 65% of participants who report that their relationships with their peers have deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic also report that their mental health has worsened. Knowing that 59% of those who say that their relationships with their peers improved also report increased productivity.

Senior leaders will set the tone for how organizations come back from the pandemic. To do this effectively, it is key that we protect their mental health and resiliency and provide ongoing support that fits the range of needs within each workplace,” said Zabeen Hirji, executive advisor, future of work and co-lead at Deloitte. “ This will have a trickle-down effect in setting a culture that normalizes mental-health support for all employees.”

The report calls for a reset of corporate culture, productivity and overall well-being. This includes focusing on peer relationships, de-stigmatization of mental health issues and perceptions, or even personal support.

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