The overwhelming majority (87 per cent) of people managing projects say their mental wellbeing has been negatively impacted by their main project, with a third (33 per cent) strongly agreeing with this statement. These findings are part of a survey by Association for Project Management (APM), with research company Censuswide.
The survey findings, launched during Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 (10-16 May), help to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing across the project management profession.
The main reasons project professionals cited for why their project has negatively impacted them are:
- “There is insufficient opportunity for me to voice concerns to my superiors” – cited by 37 per cent of respondents
- “My manager's/superior's attitude and/or approach to work is negatively impacting my ability to work well” – cited by 37 per cent
- “My work-life balance is suffering due to this project” – cited by 36 per cent
- “This project is impacting my home life and personal relationships” – cited by 34 per cent
APM survey data also highlights the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, revealing that 70 per cent of project practitioners have been negatively affected in their ability to do their job. Respondents who agreed that the pandemic had negatively impacted them cited the need to balance work with other responsibilities (31 per cent), difficulty adapting to remote working (30 per cent), important meetings or phone calls being cancelled or postponed (30 per cent) and reduced confidence among investors or stakeholders (28 per cent) as the main reasons.
Some positives to mental health and wellbeing have also been uncovered by APM’s findings, however. The majority of project practitioners (79 per cent) say that their employer has introduced new initiatives during the pandemic to support staff wellbeing.
These initiatives include schemes such as mental health first aiders, dedicated wellness days, allocating work time for social online gatherings and increased flexible working. A third (33 per cent) of project professionals say mental health support training for managers has been the most positive organisational change during the coronavirus pandemic.
Debbie Dore, chief executive of APM, said: “These continue to be challenging times, and many people in the project profession have been impacted for reasons beyond their control. It’s essential that project professionals continue to be properly supported so they can deliver positive change for the people, businesses and communities they serve.
“It’s encouraging to see that employers are taking the mental health of their employees seriously.”
APM has worked with the mental health charity Mind, and published a free-to-access mental health toolkit for project managers and their employers. The project manager mental health toolkit can be downloaded by visiting-mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/toolkit/remote-project-managers
There are also a number of dedicated resources available on APM’s website including blogs containing mental health advice and wellbeing tips. APM’s branches across the UK also host virtual social events to help people working in project management stay connected.