On Wednesday 16 November, over 50 insight professionals gathered at Opinium’s London office to have breakfast, hear the results of the 2022 Mental Wellbeing in Research survey and discuss ways to build better wellbeing levels in the sector.

Our panel of wellbeing experts hosted by MRS CEO Jane Frost included: James Pickles – coach and mental health advocate; Naomi Goodman – EVP expert and Stuart McNicolas, from Dolly Heath and Samaritan volunteer along with Kate Whiffen Associate Director at Opinium who lead and produced the research.

Research summary

More than three-quarters of researchers believe that their employer has handled the pandemic well, according to 2022 Mental Wellbeing in Research Survey. But, despite this positive feedback, the sector still has much to do with a significant proportion of researchers experiencing mental health issues over the past year.

Conducted annually by insight agency Opinium and MRS the research reveals that 76% of sector professionals approve of their employer’s actions over the past 18 months, rising to 83% for those working in-house or client-side. 

These are positive results for a sector that has been put under pressure throughout the pandemic. This is the third year that the research, which explores researchers’ mental health and wellbeing, and this year also includes their views on returning to office working, has been run. 

Despite these encouraging outcomes, 87% of researchers have experienced poor mental health over the past year up from 83% in 2020 with only 18% of that number taking time off their job to rest. According to the research, having too much to do remains the top cause of stress at work for the third year running and almost a quarter of the sector say they find their job stressful – showing that there is still work to be done.

Discussion highlights

The panel discussed how there is still a reluctance to take time off if feeling mentally unwell although employees will take time off physical illness. Workload is still the top factor of stress for research professionals with 1 in 5 finding their jobs hugely stressful. There are improvements in wellbeing with the shift to hybrid working with employees feeling more in control – 70% prefer the mix of home and office working.

When it comes to wellbeing the person affected can’t always self-diagnose when they are at their lowest. This is when leaders can have a role – they can ask the question: ‘Let me know how I can help you?’ They can help with prioritizing time for their employees and time for themselves – it helps if bosses actually include notes on their calendars saying ‘taking dog for walk.’ Bosses who work on holiday send a difficult message about really taking time off from work.

Poor time planning on projects can be a contributing factor leaving team members to work late/long hours to make up the gaps. As research is a client service industry, it can be difficult to communicate time and stress issues to clients. There’s the worry that they may never come back. There was a call for leaders of agencies to be part of an honest conversation with clients who also help lead the industry.

There is often a link between mental and physical health: often a physical ailment can predate or be part of a bigger malaise. Defining what is mental health can be difficult as we all have ‘mental health’ but there was an agreement that anxiety and stress when they are relentless will impact on wellbeing. Wellbeing at work means focusing on what works and feels right. Look at employee engagement to establish why they are satisfied or not. Learn how to identify mental wellbeing issues in your teams – be honest in your conversations, valuing different perspectives and views. Give your employee “the gift of time” – when they are stressed it nearly always comes down to time.


Download the 2021 findings presentations:

Survey results from 2020

Insight agency Opinium and MRS teamed up to run the Mental Wellbeing in Research Survey in 2020.

The wellbeing research results released in August 2020 indicate that people are growing more comfortable speaking about their mental wellbeing with their colleagues. In the past year, 57% of survey participants had told someone at work about a mental health struggle, compared with 36% in 2019. In those instances when people had shared how they were feeling, three quarters of them reported a positive experience and said their colleagues were understanding and supportive. See the full report below.

Hear the 2020 results of the Mental Wellbeing in Research Survey in our Professional Webinar with Sophie Holland from Opinium plus discover how to increase your own wellbeing and that of your teams with HR expert Stuart McNicholas.  

Survey results from 2019

In July 2019 research agency Opinium, supported by MRS, launched the results of the first survey into mental wellbeing in the sector.
 The report ‘Opening the Conversation: Mental Wellbeing in Market Research’ revealed that, while 53% of workers in the UK say they have had issues with their mental wellbeing, an alarming 85% of market researchers report that they had struggled in the previous 12 months. With 77% of admitting that this had affected their work.

Opinium and MRS hosted a joint event in October 2019 to explore the reasons for the high levels of anxiety in the sector and debate how employers can work to address this. The Wellbeing in Research event featured a presentation of the results followed by a discussion with sector professionals and wellbeing experts giving their advice for mental wellbeing at work.  

Panel: Jane Bainbridge, Editor, Impact & Research Live (chairing) • Sophie Holland, Research Exec, Opinium • Dane Krambergar, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Services, MIND • Jennifer Perry, MD, Respondi • Rebecca Ormond, Inclusive Workplace Leader, PwC

Wellbeing at work resources:

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