How Have Business Managers Coped in the World’s Biggest Crisis?
9 September 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters
It wouldn’t be shocking to hear that 37% of business managers in the UK have accessed mental health services during the last 18 months. Through times of unrelenting retail turmoil, the pressure has fallen on the shoulders of the UK’s business managers to try and steer the ship. The knock-on effects are only just beginning to be seen, with a number of surveys documenting the huge mental stress managers have experience. What do they report, and what can be done to support them?
How have business managers coped?
Even without a global pandemic, managing any kind of business is an incredibly stressful job. As a result, it’s not too much of a surprise that they were a professional group directly affected by the mental impact of COVID-19. According to NerdWallet, almost half of UK managers cited furloughing employees and additional redundancies as key factors in their declining mental health. Issues such as loss of income, isolation and personal bereavement led to symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. When we look at the patterns in retail, it’s not hard to see why. The economy shrank by 9.9% in 2020 alone—the biggest fall in 300 years. It was left to business managers to try and hold their businesses together.
On top of professional setbacks such as business closures, managers had to deal with a growing number of personal issues, too. Business negativity led to increased loneliness and strained relationships. Younger managers were more likely to be affected, arguably due to having less experience. The same could be said for managers that were lower earners, or temporarily not working. The pandemic raise the question of managers reporting an increase in fulfilling “illegitimate tasks”. An illegitimate task could be described as something an employee feels they shouldn’t perform, either due to it being unreasonable (e.g. outside a job description), or unnecessary (e.g. it could have been avoided). These tasks were shown to add to managers’ distress, given the speedy shift to remote work and changes in structure.
What can be done to help?
It could be argued that these tasks were indeed reasonable, but the need to micromanage has been undisputable. Industries need to both support managers through these changes, while reframing tasks that may seem unreasonable at first glance. Despite these stressors, business managers feel encouraged by the market’s future. Business optimism is at its highest since June 2015, with 68% of industry players expecting increases in business activity. The future of retail may not seem as bleak, but the continued support for its business managers must not be forgotten.
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/@energepic-com-27411