Grokker Innovation Labs, the research division of wellbeing engagement solution Grokker, issued recent findings about the current state of workers’ physical wellbeing after a year of social distancing, working from home, and isolation. In addition to low levels of activity, difficulty sleeping, and languor, the research continues the narrative revealed in the company’s previous research of lack of attentiveness and resources on the part of employers.

Although the reported drop in activity for workers juggling family and work responsibilities while isolated at home was not unexpected, a surprising number of those working on-site reported their job activities had become more sedentary since the start of the pandemic as well. As a result, employees as a whole are increasingly experiencing insomnia, fatigue, and lack of energy, along with aches, pains, and digestive issues.

Nearly 50% of employees report that their employers are not formally supporting their physical wellbeing.

Susan Van Klink, Grokker’s chief revenue and chief diversity officer, says in a release, “Our research indicates that workers are struggling more than they’re divulging, with special concern about the physical toll on women. And similar to our previous report on mental health, half of workers report that their employers are not offering any support for their physical wellbeing.”

Conducted in March 2021, the Grokker Innovation Labs’ 2021 Working Americans’ State of Physical Wellbeing examined the behavioral changes that have taken place since the start of the pandemic, the key impacts on workplace performance, and the barriers workers are encountering in caring for their physical wellbeing.

Among the key findings:

A number of workers’ daily practices are likely contributing negatively to their physical wellbeing:

  • 48% – Increases in the consumption of sweet and salty snacks and fatty foods
  • 55% – Increases in video/TV watching and gaming
  • 25% – Increases in the use of substances
  • 20% – Overworking

Employees overwhelmingly are experiencing an onset or worsening of illness/burnout symptoms:

  • 55% – Fatigue, insomnia, or lack of energy
  • 35% – Headaches or musculoskeletal aches and pains
  • 27% – Stomachaches, bowel problems, or other digestive issues
  • 14% – Heart disease or high blood pressure

Men are more than twice as likely than women to report that their physical wellbeing is “excellent” or to report that their physical fitness, nutrition, or sleep habits have improved.

Nearly 50% of employees report that their employers are not formally supporting their physical wellbeing. For those who do report receiving benefits, they’re most likely to be in the form of:

  • 23% – Wellness programs
  • 19% – On-demand virtual/video resources

Van Klink says, “Companies should treat this research as a wake-up call. Workers are suffering, the conditions related to potential medical and burnout issues are on the rise, and the increase in negative behaviors is a clear risk to your bottom line in the future. Now is the time to revisit your employee wellbeing program and ensure that workers are empowered to maintain and protect their health and wellbeing.”