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Worker stress, burnout, and wellbeing before and during the COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom

Pelly, Diane, Daly, Michael, Delaney, Liam and Doyle, Orla (2022) Worker stress, burnout, and wellbeing before and during the COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. ISSN 1664-1078

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Identification Number: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.823080


COVID-19 created a transformational shift in the working environment for much of the labour force, yet its impact on workers is unclear. This study uses longitudinal data to examine the wellbeing of 621 full-time workers assessed before (November 2019–February 2020) and during (May–June 2020) the first lockdown in the United Kingdom. We employ fixed effects analyses to investigate the impact of the restrictions and mandatory homeworking on cognitive, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. Within the sample, the rate of full-time homeworking increased from 2 to 74% between waves. We identify significant changes in 9 of the 15 measures assessed, with a general pattern of improvements in wellbeing during lockdown. Overall levels of stress, self-rated mental health, positive emotions and life and job satisfaction are not adversely affected by the restrictions. There is a reduction in the burnout symptoms of disengagement (−0.13 sd) and exhaustion (−0.20 sd) and in the frequency with which negative emotions are experienced at work (−0.15 sd). Workers feel more autonomous (+0.09 sd), closer to their co-workers (+0.10 sd), and more attached to their organisations (+0.19 sd). However, homelife satisfaction declines (−0.11 sd). These findings highlight the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic and large-scale transition to homeworking was associated with unchanged or improved worker wellbeing. This study has important implications for governments and employers regarding a global shift to homeworking.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Date Deposited: 12 May 2022 23:17
Last Modified: 19 May 2022 14:45

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