United Kingdom researchers and mental wellbeing

10 November 2022

Researchers are happier with mental health support, although more than 80% still report negative wellbeing.

4 min read
4 min read

Employers in the UK market research sector have strengthened their mental wellbeing support in 2022, though there remains room for improvement, according to a new survey.  

Delivered by insight agency Opinium and MRS, the UK’s professional body for research, insight and analytics, Mental Wellbeing in Research Tracker 2022 shows some improvement in mental health across the industry and widespread enthusiasm for flexible working.   

However, 83% of researchers still reported negative mental wellbeing, suggesting that there remain issues to be grappled with, including high workloads in the sector. 

Wellbeing improves post pandemic 

The mental health of the sector has improved over the past year, as market researchers move beyond the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.   

In particular, the industry is finding work less stressful. A fifth of participants reported finding their jobs stressful, a 17% fall from 2021 and lower than the national average at 24%. The number of researchers experiencing negative mental health has also gone slightly down, from 87% to 83%. 

This comes as the sector embraces hybrid working patterns, with seven in ten supporting this style of working. It indicates a continued desire for shared offices by market researchers, as opposed to only home working during the pandemic, which could be isolating.   

According to the survey, researchers particularly value the lighting, space and stimulation of an office environment, while they cite the home as being more pleasant, appealing and colourful. 

More needed despite positive steps 

The sector increasingly sees employers offering the right level of mental wellbeing support, with only a quarter believing it is inadequate. This is down from a third in 2021 and can in part be attributed to the increase in home working, as 75% of participants say they have a better work-life balance as a result.   

However, the survey also shows the industry must maintain its focus on wellbeing as many feel they have too much work to take time off for mental health reasons.  Only 19% of market researchers who experienced poor mental health took leave and half of those who didn’t, say it was due to their workload. 

The full findings from the research will be revealed and interrogated at a breakfast event on Wednesday 16 November. It will include a presentation as well as a panel discussion chaired by Jane Frost CEO of MRS, featuring Naomi Goodman of Brave and Bold, James Pickles of JPC, Kate Wiffen, Associate Director at Opinium, and Stuart McNicolas of Dolly Mental Health.  

The launch event begins at 9am (breakfast from 8.30am) and will be held at Opinium’s offices, 58 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DG. 

Jane Frost CBE, CEO of MRS, comments 

“As heartening as it is to see an improvement in our sector’s mental wellbeing, we cannot rest on our laurels, and we must continue to strive to do better.  This research makes clear that many still struggle to act upon their stress or anxiety, a barrier that we need to break down.   

“It’s not just the right thing to do but staff that are happier are proven to perform with greater energy and more efficiently as well. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, it’s likely many will be feeling anxious and stressed, and as leaders in market research, we need to ensure we’re offering as much wellbeing support as we possibly can.” 

James Endersby, CEO of Opinium comments

“In its fourth year now, it is clear that the market research sector is paying closer attention to the Opinium/MRS annual Workplace Mental Wellbeing tracker. It is encouraging to see positive movements across a number of areas. However we must not get complacent.  

“While there is a YOY improvement, having 83% of our most important assets telling us that they have ‘experienced negative mental health’, is clearly not good enough. Leaders at agencies and in-house teams must continue to prioritise the mental wellbeing of their colleagues. Workload remains a huge issue and leaders need to find ways of restructuring or redesigning to help alleviate this long-term aggravating factor.”  

About MRS

  • The UK is the world’s second-largest research market. 

  • With members in more than 60 countries, MRS is the world’s leading research association.  

  • Previous MRS presidents have included Dame Dianne Thompson, Rita Clifton CBE and Jeremy Bullmore  

  • It has a diverse membership of individuals at all levels of experience and seniority within agencies, consultancies, support services, client-side organisations, the public sector and the academic community. 

  • MRS represents 80% of research agencies who commit to, and are regulated by, the MRS Code of Conduct to ensure professional and ethical research of the highest standard of excellence.   

  • MRS’ Covid-19 information hub is available here: https://www.mrs.org.uk/resources/coronavirus

  • In 2013 MRS launched the Fair Data trust mark that demonstrates which organisations handle their customers’ personal data fairly. 

  • MRS is the global leader in research qualifications and training.  

Research World Editors
Editors at Research World