Covid-19: Almost 50% of employees had increase in mental health issues – Chamber of SMEs

Last Updated on Friday, 21 May, 2021 at 2:08 pm by Andre Camilleri

Forty-six per cent of businesses noted that issues of mental health and detachment amongst employees increased compared to pre-Covid times, a survey carried out by the Chamber of SMEs shows.

The study, which observed the continued effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on SMEs, consulted 250 respondents originating from small and medium sized business operators in Malta, and results were gathered between 10 and 18 May.

The operators originated from a myriad of fields, most notably retail (16%), entertainment and events (14%), wellness and personal care (11%) and tourism services (11%).

While the majority of businesses considered in the study were small businesses with one to nine employees (49%), the study also considered larger businesses and self-employed individuals.

Throughout March to April 2021, 42% of businesses were ordered by law to close due to the pandemic. 48% of businesses, on the other hand, were not ordered to close.

The majority of business operators noted than their experience in being closed during 2021 was much worse than last year (47%), noting that they were in a weaker position to start off with and closing made businesses even harder for them.

Additionally, the majority of businesses that re-opened in 2021 (39%) note that business was very slow for them. 27% of businesses also noted that business was slow. Thus, 66% of businesses have been faced with a slow re-opening.

Asked about their financial constraints, the majority of businesses noted that sales levels are their biggest concern at the moment (19%). Other high-ranking concerns include cash flow (15%) and uncertainty (14%).

While most respondents think that their businesses will survive longer than 12 months (38%), a noticeable 24% of respondents said that they only expect their businesses to last up to 6 months. 13% of respondents only expect their businesses to last for up to three months.

On this point, most businesses (23%) said that they are unsure when their business will start recuperating. Other businesses noted that they hope to start recovering in the summer months, with the arrival of tourists.

Asked about how their current progress compares to the expectations they had for the start of 2021, most businesses noted that 2021 is going worse than they expected (48%), while other businesses noted that 2021 is in line with their expectations (47%).

The study also found that businesses are largely unsatisfied with postage rates, which are oftentimes too high to ship items abroad.

Although the level of team spirit, staff motivation and productivity has generally remained average (59%), most businesses noted that issues of mental health and detachment amongst employees have increased compared to pre-Covid times (46%). 14% of businesses noted that issues of mental health have increased substantially, and are having or will have an effect on their respective businesses.

To tackle this issue, CEO of the Chamber of SMEs Abigail Mamo announced that a scheme will be set up to address the increased detachment which businesses are experiencing.

“Team spirit is a huge element to help negotiations move forward”, she noted. “The effects of mental health need to be addressed seriously”.

More details will be announced on the scheme in due time, however she noted that the scheme will affect both employees who are teleworking, as well was those who are working in person.

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