The Wellbeing of our Frontline Workers

18 Jan 2022 Anne Marie Fogarty

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We have heard many stories of how frontline workers save people lives, particularly over the last 22 months. A global pandemic ravaged the world, and we all seemed helpless and afraid for our lives and loved ones. But one brave set of individuals emerged with passion, integrity, and bravery most of us envy – those were our frontline workers.

But how often have we heard stories about their struggles? For example, the mental well-being of our frontline workers?


What is the data saying?

Sadly, mental health is the leading cause of work-related ill health ( in the UK. It is no secret that there was a high workers shortage in the medical field before the pandemic. This profession is staffed dangerously low due to a high level of stress-related sickness and other issues.

No surprise, the health and social care sectors have 46% higher than the UK national average for stress-related illness, according to NHS England-CQUIN Supplementary Guidance in 2016.

Although most workers are still happy with their profession helping people in need, the number of workers who felt burnout with their job appears to be skyrocketing. We need to help them save their lives, too, not just worry about them saving our lives, right?

On its website,, the 87% report shows that:

  • 10% of frontline workers have recently had suicidal thoughts
  • 45% have felt panic or terror
  • 49% have been distressed by unwanted images or memories.

The report was conducted from March 2020 to July 2021, with over 10,000 UK frontline workers’ well-being looked at. The report analysed work-life balance, psychological health, and physical health in general. Specifically, it breaks down to seven dimensions of well-being, such as

  • body
  • quality of life
  • work
  • self-esteem
  • relationship
  • emotions
  • growth

Not surprisingly, there are different results among genders and between frontline services. For example, 60% of frontline workers are experiencing severely poor work-life balance, with female workers more likely to have difficulties with physical health. At the same time, males are more likely to have challenges sharing difficult emotions.


  • Medical students and junior workers are more likely to feel depressed, anxious, and less valued.
  • 57% of UEC Nurses are likely to have a poor work-life balance.
  • 43% of Emergency Physicians will have chronic work stress.
  • 40% of paramedics will have depression.
  • 35% and 32% HEMS workers with fatigue.
  • Police line with poor job satisfaction.
  • Although 40% of them are at high risk of developing mental health disorders, amazingly enough, the majority of frontline workers are still proud of the work they do (92%).

But how can they minimise the work pressure and increase their well-being when 61% of them feel tired most of the time, 33% have difficulties with concentration and focus, and 32% have symptoms of depression and anxiety? What can the solution be?


What is the Solution?

What is the solution when the work-life balance is the leading well-being challenge faced by the frontline workers in the UK? The report suggested that poor work-life balance is sturdily leading to depression, anxiety, loneliness, poor quality of sleep, and eventually burnout – these impacts are up to double in frontline workers compared to the non-frontline workers. That is why 65% of them developed compassion fatigue where they felt too much compassion for their patients.

The question now is, what would be the key solution to increasing our frontline workers’ well-being? Would it be prevention? Leadership? Rewards? Yes! The answer would be all, would it not?

Frontline workers are known to have positive mindsets, which are the leading key to resilience.

  • 90% of them enjoy coming up with new solutions to problems.
  • 85% believe there is a positive side to everyday challenges and feel that their relationship support is supportive and rewarding.
  • 60% have a very high level of optimism.

With these fundamental and powerful values, organisations can involve the staff in creating and delivering well-being strategies and policies. Of course, organisations must train their managers to become leaders, spot the signs of excess stress and poor well-being of their workers, and address problems immediately. They can monitor workload, support healthy habits, and encourage well-being discussions, becoming part of continuous professional development. It may include informal and formal peer support to reduce mental health stigma. This, in turn, is also good for managers as it will help them feel more confident about having difficult and sensitive conversations with their workers and encourage open communication in teams.



What is the lesson learned here? There is a significant impact of mental well-being on organisation success. Good wellbeing practices can improve employee satisfaction, diversity and inclusion, retention, and decrease absence levels.

We need to care for the well-being of our frontline workers by first identifying strong solutions and then putting them into practice.



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