More than half (58 per cent) of frontline workers said they believe their work stress will either stay the same or worsen in the coming year, according to a global survey by Edelman Data x Intelligence for Microsoft Corp.

The survey, which polled more than 9,000 frontline workers, found about half (51 per cent) agreed that labour shortages are making their jobs especially difficult. Respondents also said they wish more was being done to help with physical exhaustion (60 per cent) or to support their mental health (57 per cent).

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“The pandemic has created an extraordinary strain on the individuals on the frontlines,” said Dr. David Rhew, Microsoft’s global chief medical officer in a report on the survey’s findings. “Beyond the very real effects of COVID on peoples’ lives and livelihoods, there’s the baseline administrative burden they have to handle and then the workforce is diminishing so there’s more and more work being placed on top of them. It’s just created an extraordinary amount of pressure and stress.”

Indeed, in addition to economic challenges, respondents cited workload (45 per cent), low wages (44 per cent), long workdays (41 per cent), managing needs of customers (35 per cent) and coronavirus pandemic-related protocols (33 per cent) as the top five reasons for their work-related stress. In terms of the top five reasons why they’d consider a job change, employees cited making more money, better work-life balance, not receiving pay increases, better benefits and more flexibility in how they work.

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Additionally, half (51 per cent) of frontline workers surveyed who work in non-management positions don’t feel valued as employees. Although a majority (76 per cent) of respondents reported they “feel very bonded to co-workers” because of shared stresses brought on by the pandemic, the survey found their connections to leadership and company culture are weak.

Notably, close to two-thirds (62 per cent) said their leadership doesn’t prioritize building workplace culture — and that number increases (68 per cent) for respondents in management positions on the frontline, such as department heads, store managers and shop-floor supervisors. And when it comes to non-managers, 56 per cent said the same.