COVID-19: Survey finds high levels of anxiety in Britain for jobs, the economy, and public health

Please note at the bottom of the write-up of our COVID-19 related research we have put together a free resource from our new Director of Strategic Communications which may help in communicating with your own staff and stakeholders who may be without without experience in change management and crisis communications at this difficult time..


Survation’s new in-depth COVID-19 research of 3000+ Adults aged over 18, focussed on business and employment

A comprehensive survey by Survation of the British public, with a focus on the attitudes of the British workforce, finds there is a high level of concern about the impact of COVID-19 on people’s jobs, the industries in which they work, and the wider economy. Amidst the crisis, the study has found that there is a high level of public trust in the NHS and other official sources of information, and reasonable understanding of public health risk messages.



Major concerns


54% of all workers surveyed were “very” or “quite” concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their jobs; with 30% “not that concerned”, 15% “not at all concerned”, and less than 1% saying they were unsure. Looking across standard occupational classification levels, concern was 46% for Level 4 workers (corporate managerial, senior professional), 58% for Level 3 workers (other managers or proprietors, associate professionals, skilled trades), and 57% for Level 1 / 2 workers (services, administration, process or machine operation / elementary).


There were similar levels of concern for their jobs among public sector (56%) and private sector (54%) workers respectively. Overall, 66% of workers were concerned about the impact on the organisation they work at, and 68% were concerned about their industry. Among students, 63% reported concern about the impact of COVID-19 on their studies.


Among all respondents, 86% expressed concern about the economy – and 91% were concerned about public health.




Business Continuity


Businesses around the country are at various stages of their business continuity management planning in relation to dealing with the impact of COVID-19. Asking all workers who are employed in senior positions in their organisation or have responsibility for human resource management, we found that 22% described their organisation as being in the “Analysis” stage, which entails an assessment of the disruptions. 28% said they were in the “Design” phase, i.e. the composition of the business continuity plan. 26% said they were at “Implementation”; putting the devised plan into action. 4% said their organisation is currently undertaking the reflective “Validation” process, which involves verification of the plan’s practical effectiveness. 1 in 5 (20%) were unsure which phase best described the current stage of their business continuity management cycle.




Public trust and awareness


Awareness of COVID-19 is very high among the general public: 95% of people surveyed said they were ‘familiar’ with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). While 90% of respondents believed that the novel coronavirus is more dangerous than the common cold, two-thirds (66%) believed that the new virus is a greater danger than the flu (influenza); with 23% believing it is as dangerous. These figures indicate a considerable number of people in the UK being unaware of the potential risk of the new virus.



People are getting information about the virus  from a variety of sources. 7 in 10 people surveyed (70%) said they had received information about COVID-19 from the National Health Service. 10% said the same of a private healthcare provider. 75% of workers (not including sole proprietors) reported receiving information about the new coronavirus from the organisation where they work. 80% of all people surveyed had received information from the UK Government – and 94% cited the news media as a source of information about COVID-19.



In addition to public awareness, we also investigated levels of public trust in various sources of information relating to the new coronavirus. The most trusted source was the NHS. 83% of respondents reported high trust in the NHS (between 7 and 10 on a scale of 0 to 10) when it comes to providing information about COVID-19. 49% had high trust in the UK Government to accurately inform them. 62% of workers (excepting sole traders) trusted the organisation they work at to reliably inform them about the disease. Among all respondents, more people had high trust in friends and family to keep them informed about COVID-19 (42%) than the news media (35%).



Survation conducted an online survey of 3,007 adults in the UK. Fieldwork was between 13th – 17th March 2020. The survey summary document is available here. Methodology and data tables are available here.




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