There’s no denying that anxiety, stress and mental health issues are on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an exponential growth in such cases, overtaking the 2008 recession. According to mental health provider Ginger, 69% of employees say the COVID-19 pandemic is the most stressful time of their careers.
That’s bad news, not just for employees, but employers and HR teams as well. Employees suffering from greater stress and mental health conditions are likely to negatively affect your team. From productivity to absenteeism, you will find that stress plays a significant role in creating a bad work environment, and poor performances.
As a HR manager, that means you need to find ways to help employees cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. But before you do, you need to know where the stress comes from. If you want long-term, sustainable outcomes, you need to tackle the root of the issue, not just provide short-term solutions.
Why the COVID-19 Pandemic Increased Stress
Globally, millions of employees are suffering from increased stress due to uncertainty. 10 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s still a lot we don’t know which is causing worry. Some key pressure points all employees face are:
- If they will lose their jobs due to the economic crisis
- The state of their finances
- If they will catch the virus
- When things will return to normal
- The fear of more lockdowns
There’s no way to be certain of any of these things. There’s also a long and tricky path ahead to vaccination that we cannot control. Added to that, the fact that many employees are isolated and working at home alone means that they have few people to share their concerns with.
In all, the COVID-19 pandemic has created feelings of isolation, uncertainty and fear. As a result, employees are feeling added stress. The Ginger report went on to mention that employees were losing 2 hours a day due to COVID-related stress.
Why You Should Help
As a HR manager, it is your duty to step up and help your employees through these tough times. There’s a major financial incentive for you to do so. A study from the Inegrated Benefits Institute found that employers could lose more than $23 billion due to decreased productivity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greater stress leads to more exhaustion, so employees aren’t at their best for work. You will find employees taking more sick days. Even if they do show up to work, stress manifests in other ways. Employees who are stressed will be less productive, often making plenty of errors and missing key deadlines.
Luckily though, that doesn’t have to be the case. There are ways to help in the COVID-19 pandemic.
How You Can Help
- Connect: Ensure your employees are constantly in touch with each other. They need to feel like they are part of a team, so ensure all teams have regular catch-up meetings. Set time aside for employees to engage in non-work-related talk, allowing them to make more meaningful connections.
- Get Professional Help: If you are unable to help your employee, ensure that they can talk to a professional. Now is a great time to hire a psychologist for your company, at least on a contract basis. It will give your employees a sense of security and confidence, allowing them to work knowing they have someone to turn to.
- Reassure: No one likes to live with the fear of losing their jobs. If you plan to cut roles, have an honest company-wide town hall and take feedback from employees. If you don’t plan to cut just yet, reach out to employees personally and reassure them that their job is safe. Amidst all the uncertainty, it will give them some reassurance.
- Financial Assistance: John Hancock Retirement Funds found that the number of individuals reporting high levels of financial stress more than doubled from 11% to 27%. Enrol employees in financial wellbeing and assistance programs, so that they have more confidence in their finances.
- Provide Healthcare: Health inflation has made healthcare unaffordable for millions of employees, even those in full-time work. Invest in a good employee healthcare plan for your team, giving them access to quality healthcare. For a post-COVID world, it’s a must have employee benefit.
If you are a small business who thinks healthcare is unaffordable, why not try Onsurity? Our comprehensive employee healthcare plans are economical and flexible. That way, not only do you save, but you give your team healthcare benefits they will love to use.
Onsurity’s plans provide benefits like teleconsultations, discounted health check-ups and medicine orders and fitness tracking. It really is the ideal way to help your employees cope with the stress around the COVID-19 pandemic.