New research into the impact of COVID-19 on South African employees has found that 46 % of the country’s workforce is at high risk of developing pre-traumatic stress disorder. The study was conducted by Afriforte, a research unit within the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the North West University in Potchefstroom.

It looked at the COVID-19 experiences of more than 1 600 workers between May and June this year.

Managing Director of Afriforte, Professor Ina Rothmann, says the findings also show that more than a third of employees are experiencing a high incidence of stress-related, physical ill-health symptoms.

“From the total sample, 49% of employees indicated high levels of concern, while only 2 % reported not to be concerned about the future following the COVID- 19 outbreak. There is no difference between males and females, however, concern levels appear to be higher for the younger age group and that is the people between 20 and 39 years, career entrants and career builders as well as employees with children.”

Rothmann says if these factors are not addressed proactively, the mental well-being of employees will be affected. He adds that despite challenges posed by the pandemic, many remain hopeful for the future.

“Participants were asked to rate how hopeful they feel about the future given our current situation. And from the total sample, only 4% of South African employees indicated despair about the future. This is a very positive result as it indicates that although the concern levels are evident for most employees, the presence of the positive, hope, the buffer is also evident for a large proportion of the sample of South African employees.”

In the video below, managing stress, anxiety, depression amid COVID-19 pandemic: