Insights professionals and a healthy work-life balance: mental well-being and health concerns continue

Issues surrounding mental health and well-being continue to be of concern around the world, and a recent Research Association New Zealand study shows that market researchers are also feeling the effects

The World Health Organization released a scientific brief last week showing that anxiety and depression increased by 25% worldwide during the first year of the pandemic. That number is likely even higher today, as the pandemic continues to drag on. The insights industry has not been immune to these trends, and last year the Research Association New Zealand (RANZ) released a study done in partnership with Opinium on mental well-being among industry professionals in New Zealand.

The statistics, which show percentage change from 2020, are eye-opening. The report starts out with some sobering metrics that indicate 84% have struggled with their mental health to some degree in the previous 12 months. It also notes that69% of workers who suffered from mental health problems in the past 12 months had not told their workplace about it. This among other data points, clearly spotlight the struggles that the industry, along with many others, is facing. 

In the market research sector specifically, workloads and tight deadlines are causing some of the stress and mental health issues among constituents. Far from the fears of decreased work that the onset of the pandemic brought, our industry has found itself more in demand than ever before over the past two years. The pandemic is transforming everything - from the way consumers shop, behave, and feel to the way people do business in nearly every vertical space. Organizations are seeking to keep their finger on the pulse of these trends to make forward-thinking decisions. And they’re turning to the market research industry for help. 

In fact, according to The Business Research Company, “The global market research services market is expected to grow from $76.42 billion in 2021 to $82.62 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1%. The growth is mainly due to the companies rearranging their operations and recovering from the COVID-19 impact.” While this growth is good for the industry, clearly the increase in workload is straining some individuals. 

Using technology to handle key workflow processes, such as time-consuming manual tasks, will be even more important as the industry continues to expand. Some common tasks that technology and automation are poised to handle in the space include bringing together and organizing data from multiple touchpoints for holistic analysis, and instantly sharing dynamic insights among stakeholders without the use of cumbersome traditional reporting techniques, like crosstabs. Employing the right solutions can take some of the strain off the 47% of market research professionals who are stressed by “having too much to do.” 

However, the RANZ report does highlight some bright points. Many (83%) feel that working from home is more relaxing than working on site, and 57% feel that working from home has improved overall mental well-being. Another study found that a whopping 99% of remote workers would like to continue working remotely, at least partially, and 95% would recommend remote working to others.

These are critical issues to track as many predict it will take better services and access to care to address the pandemic’s pervasive impacts on mental well-being. Experts are calling for mental health conversations to lose their lingering stigma, and asking for the prioritization of support for those who are experiencing issues such as stress, depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges.

The RANZ report summarizes the state of the insights industry well, concluding with: “Market research is a hectic and fast-paced industry and whilst this makes it an exciting industry to work in it also means that long-hours and intense workloads can sometimes get the better of us…we can use this [time] as a chance to reassess what ‘manageable’ looks like when it comes to workload and emphasise the ‘life’ in ‘work-life balance’.” 


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