Global Study: C-Suite Execs experienced more mental health challenges than their employees in Wake of Global Pandemic

  • The COVID-19 pandemic impacted workers differently depending on their seniority, generation, and location
  • C-Suite execs had a harder time adapting to virtual work than their employees
  • Gen Z and Millennials workers are feeling the most burned out
  • Employees in India, UAE, China and US struggled the most with mental health at work

Austin, TexasFebruary 3, 2021: Mental health challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted workers differently depending on their seniority, generation, and location, according to a new report by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, a HR research and advisory firm.

The study of more than 12,000 employees, managers, HR leaders and C-Suite executive across 11 countries, found that C-suite executives struggled to adapt more than their employees, younger generations experienced the most burnout, and that India, UAE, China and the U.S. had the most workers reporting the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.

C-Suite executives see the biggest challenges in remote work

C-level executives have struggled the most with adapting to remote work realities and report they are suffering from mental health issues more than their employees, but they are also the most open to finding help in AI.

  • C-Suite execs (53 per cent) have struggled with mental health issues in the workplace more than their employees (45 per cent).
  • C-Suite execs also had the hardest time adapting to virtual lifestyles with 85 percent reporting significant remote work challenges including collaborating with teams virtually (39 per cent), managing increased stress and anxiety (35 per cent), and lacking workplace culture (34 per cent).
  • C-Suite execs were also 29 per cent more likely to experience difficulties learning new technologies for remote work than employees; once they adjusted to the new normal, C-Suite execs were 26 percent more likely to find increased productivity than employees
  • C-Suite execs are the most open to using AI for help with mental health: 73 per cent would prefer to talk to a robot (i.e. chatbots and digital assistants) about their mental health over a human compared to 61 per cent of employees.
  • C-Suite execs are 23 per cent more likely to see AI benefits than employees; 80 per cent of C-Suite leaders noted AI has already helped their mental health at work.

 Gen Z and Millennials are Hustlin’ harder, suffering more, and seeking AI Relief

Younger workers are feeling the most burnout due to the mental health effects of the pandemic and are more open to asking AI for relief.

  • Gen Z is more likely to be negatively impacted by the pandemic than any other generation. Nearly 90 per cent of Gen Z workers said COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health and 94 per cent noted workplace stress impacts their home life as well.
  • Gen Z workers are 2X more likely than Baby Boomers to work extra hours during the pandemic and Millennials are 130 per cent more likely to have experienced burnout than Baby Boomers.
  • Younger generations are the most likely to turn to robots for support: Gen Z workers are 105% more likely to talk to a robot over their manager about stress and anxiety at work than Baby Boomers. 84 per cent of Gen Z and 77 per cent of Millennials prefer robots over humans to help with their mental health.
  • Gen Z workers are 73 per cent more likely than Baby Boomers to benefit from AI at work: 90 per cent of Gen Z say AI has helped their mental health at work and 93 per cent want their companies to provide technology to support their mental health.

Employees in different countries are experiencing very different realities

Just like COVID-19, the mental health crisis has impacted people differently across the world. People in India and China are being hit the hardest and are the most open to AI support, while workers in Italy, Germany, and Japan are seeing less of an impact.

  • India (89 percent), UAE (86 per cent), China (83 per cent) and the U.S. (81 per cent) had the most workers reporting the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. Workers in China (43 per cent) and India (32 per cent) are also the most burned out from overwork as a result of COVID-19.
  • Italy reported the lowest number of people experiencing a negative impact on their mental health from the pandemic (65 per cent). Workers in Germany were the least likely to report that 2020 was the most stressful year at work ever (52 per cent).
  • 29 percent of people in Japan say they have not experienced many difficulties at all working remotely or collaborating with teams virtually. In contrast, 96 per cent of people in India admit it has been challenging to keep up with the pace of technology at work.
  • People in China (97 per cent) and India (92 per cent) are the most open to having a robot as a therapist or counselor. People in France (68 per cent) and the UK (69 per cent) were the most hesitant.
  • People in India and China are 33 per cent more likely to talk to a robot than their peers in other countries: 91 per cent of Indian workers and 91 per cent of Chinese workers would prefer a robot over their manager to talk about stress and anxiety at work.

Despite demographics, people need help from their employers. It’s time to step up

Despite seniority, generation and geographic differences, people all over the world agree: The pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health of the global workforce – and they want help.

  • 78 per cent of workers say the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health.
  • 76 per cent of people believe their company should be doing more to protect their mental health.
  • 83 per cent would like their company to provide technology to support their mental health.

Supporting quotes

“Diving deep into the differences between demographic and regional groups highlights the significant impact of the pandemic on the mental health for employees in various age groups, roles and regions,” said Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner, Workplace Intelligence.

“Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, companies can use this moment as a catalyst for positive change in their organizations. While the pandemic raised the urgency for companies to start protecting the mental health of their employees, the efforts they put in now will continue to create happier, healthier and more engaged workforces in the decades to come,” he also said.

“The pandemic put employee mental health in the global spotlight, but these findings also showed that it created growing support for solutions from employers including technologies like AI,” said Emily He, Senior Vice President, Oracle Cloud HCM.

“The way the pandemic changed our work routines makes burnout, stress and other mental health issues all too easy. Everyone has been affected in different ways and the solutions each company puts in place need to reflect the unique challenges of employees. But overall, these findings demonstrate that implementing technology to improve the mental health of employees needs to be a priority for every business,” he also said.

Learn more about this global study and download the new report.


Research findings are based on a survey conducted by Savanta, Inc. between July 16 – August 4, 2020. For this survey, 12,347 global respondents (from the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, France, Italy, Germany, India, Japan, China, Brazil, and Korea) were asked general questions to explore leadership and employee attitudes around mental health, artificial intelligence technology, digital assistants, chatbots and robots in the workplace.

The study targeted people between the ages of 22-years-old and 74-years-old. Respondents were recruited through a number of different mechanisms, via different sources to join the panels and participate in market research surveys.

All panellists passed a double opt-in process and completed on average 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys. Respondents were invited to take part via email and were provided with a small monetary incentive for doing so. Results of any sample were subject to sampling variation.

The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 0.9 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.


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Workplace Intelligence

Workplace Intelligence, LLC is an HR research and advisory firm helping leaders adapt to trends, drive performance, and prepare for the future. Our mission is to create more intelligent workplaces using data-based insights. For more information, go to our website and our LinkedIn profile.


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