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Pandemic dulling concentration and sapping employee motivation.

A third of workers say the pandemic has sapped their motivation - while more than a quarter of employees say the pandemic has left them unable to concentrate properly.

According to research from recruiter Randstad UK, 33 per cent of workers report that the pandemic has dulled their motivation.  Almost half (47 per cent) say it hasn’t changed their motivation with the remainder saying they’re more motivated.

While more than a half of workers (57 per cent) say they saw no difference in their concentration, 27 per cent said they were finding it harder to concentrate.  Fewer than one in six reported they were finding it easier to concentrate (16 per cent).  

And when asked if they felt they had been “stagnating” since the start of the pandemic, 38 per cent of employees said they had.

Victoria Short, CEO of Randstad UK said: “As we head into a new post-pandemic reality, it’s time to look again at how we survive depression and mental illness.  It’s particularly important given such a huge slice of the workforce is not the picture of mental health. Employees are having trouble concentrating.  Their motivation has been dulled and their ability to focus is limited. They feel despondent, drained, and indifferent.  They’re despairing quietly and their drive has dwindled.  They aren’t excited about anything and they’re experiencing a deep sense of stagnation and emptiness.  They aren’t burnt out or depressed, necessarily but they’re struggling.  They feel joyless and aimless - they’re languishing.  The scale of the problem should give employers pause for thought, if only for selfish reasons - they are going to need employees who are fired-up if they are to rebuild their businesses post-Covid.  And currently, the employees of UK plc are not functioning at full capacity.”

The research was unveiled at a webinar hosted by the HR giant with guest speaker, Alastair Campbell, former spokesman, press secretary and director of communications to Tony Blair, mental health ambassador, and author of Living Better: How I Learnt to Survive Depression.

The term ‘languishing’ was coined by sociologist Corey Keyes, who was struck that many people who weren’t depressed also weren’t thriving and it represents the emotional long haul of the pandemic as it has dragged on.   Keyes’ research suggests the people most likely to experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the next decade aren’t the ones with those symptoms today.  They’re the people who are languishing now.  Languishing has been described as ‘the dominant emotion of 2021’ and came to wider attention when the New York Times ran a piece on it in March.

Victoria Short said: “Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you may not notice it.  And if you’re not conscious of your deteriorating mental health, you won’t seek help.  The first stage is to recognise and name this experience.”

acknowledgement & non-governmental solutions.

By acknowledging that so many of us are languishing, employers and workers can start supporting themselves or their employees back to full mental health.  But Alistair Campbell said that the Government cannot be relied upon to support our mental health.  

Alistair Campbell said: “If there is one good thing that might come out of the pandemic it is a greater understanding of the reality that we all have mental health. That does not mean we are all mentally ill, but it does mean everyone might struggle at times. While the government of David Cameron legislated on the principle that there should be parity between mental health and physical health, we're a long way from that, in terms of resources, services and attitudes.

"If we cannot rely on the government, we need to look to our employers. There are fantastic examples of organisations prioritising the mental health of employees - Bank of Ireland, for instance. It comes down to leadership. But we have to practice what we preach. When I was leading a team in Number 10, I used to get in not long after 6am, and was often last to leave. I’d tell them that it didn’t mean they had to do the same. But that's easy to say. Several of them have since told me that they felt I didn't mean it. And when I texted them or phoned them on a Saturday afternoon and they didn't pick up straight away, I got irritated. Leaders need to make the change and that's the hardest part of the cultural change.”

Campbell, drawing on the lessons of his best-selling depression memoir, LIVING BETTER: How I learned to survive depression, added: "There is also an awful lot we can do for ourselves. Sleep, diet, exercise, understanding the importance of relationships, and drawing on the support of our partners, families, and friends. Undertaking meaningful activities. Enjoying interests away from work. We have to accept  our own responsibility as well as look to others."

He said stigma and taboo were eroding, but they were still there. "People will still ask the question, 'What has so and so got to be depressed about?' as though it was a choice. It is an illness. You would never ask someone what they had to be cancerous about, would you?" 

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ABOUT RANDSTAD: Randstad is one of largest recruitment and HR service providers in the world and is active in 38 markets around the world. In 2019, Randstad helped 2,000,000 candidates find a job with one of our 280,000 clients - and trained more than 350,000 people. In 2019, Randstad had more than 38,250 employees and generated revenues of €23.7bn. It was founded in 1960 and is headquartered in Diemen, the Netherlands. Randstad N.V. is listed on the NYSE Euronext (symbol: RAND.AS). 

ABOUT RANDSTAD UK: Randstad UK helps organisations recruit the best talent and also offers flexible labour resource management and managed service provision (MSP) - enabling companies to streamline processes and reduce costs. It employs 1,500 people, working in 150 locations across the country. Randstad UK is particularly active in the public sector: Randstad Education provides teachers and support staff for schools and colleges, working with 5,000 schools, providing work for over 15,000 teachers and teaching assistants every week; Randstad Care provides nurses, care workers and qualified social workers for the public and private sector, delivering over 2,000,000 hours of care each year. For more information, see 

SPOKESPERSON: Victoria Short, the CEO of Randstad UK, is available for comment on job vacancies, unemployment, interview techniques, CV tips, as well as pay trends and the wider world of work. 

PRESS CONTACT: James Staunton | 079 0320 7726 |