Northern Ireland workers struggle with lack of social interaction during lockdown

The wellbeing of Northern Ireland professionals has dropped since lockdown restrictions were enforced in March, but more than half of those surveyed by recruiting experts Hays say they have received no help with wellbeing from their employers.

From a survey of 655 professionals in Northern Ireland conducted at the start of May, close to two thirds (59%) rated their wellbeing as positive before restrictions were put in place, but only 37% said it had remained positive since lockdown. Those who rated it as negative rose from 7% to 22%.

Almost a quarter (23%) of workers said a lack of social interaction has been the greatest challenge to their state of mind, followed by isolation and loneliness (14%) and boredom (10%).

Four out of five professionals surveyed (80%) felt their employer has a responsibility to look after their wellbeing, but slightly more than half of all respondents (51%) said that their employer hasn’t provided any wellbeing support at all during the lockdown.


Of those who said their employer was providing support, a fifth (17%) also said their employer is offering social activities, followed by counselling (15%) and training (15%).

Work-life balance is a bigger priority since lockdown

For nearly half (48%) of respondents, work-life balance has become more important to them since lockdown, despite 52% rating their work-life balance as average or poor.

Over 45 percent of Northern Ireland employees surveyed said they will place greater importance on the mental health support offered in their workplace following the coronavirus pandemic. Only 18% of those surveyed rated the mental health support they currently receive as excellent.

When asked what they would like their manager to focus on when it came to wellbeing, 45% said better communication, 20% said better access to support services, including counselling and 17% wanted more focus put on training.

John Moore, Managing Director of Hays Northern Ireland, commented: “The wellbeing of staff needs to be a top priority for all organisations as the impact of the virus is felt on our personal and professional lives. Everybody will be having different experiences, so it’s important to maintain frequent updates and be as transparent as possible as our way of working continues to change.

“Some of the steps managers can take include regular video updates with their teams, being flexible with schedules and expectations, and offering wellbeing training. We can’t replicate the old ways of office life, but we can make sure that better support systems are in place to help your teams through the changes and challenges.”