The American Psychological Association states that work is a leading source of personal stress. But in 2020, non-work stressors are at an all-time high.
Employees are stressed about more than just work, including:
- Illness and loss
- Civil unrest
- Caring for children or elderly parents
As a result, increased stress, crisis fatigue and depression are sweeping the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one-third of Americans ages 18 and up reported feeling symptoms of anxiety and depression between April 23 to May 19. About 46% of young people between 18 and 29 reported these symptoms.
Step up when employees are stressed at work
Employees believe companies can do more to support mental health, stress and burnout. A recent survey on stress showed that “63% of workers say their company isn’t doing enough to support their emotional and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Additionally, “93% of workers believe that the companies which will survive COVID-19 will be those that support employee mental health.”
The effects of stress in the workplace
With stress levels on the rise, employers might not feel equipped to support or care for employees and their mental health needs during this trying time. Managers are in an especially difficult position as they deal with their own non-work stressors, address job responsibilities and offer emotional support to their teams. The impact of these stressors could ultimately lead your top employees to burn out.
Limeade Institute research suggests that your most engaged employees feel the impacts of stress more than unengaged employees — and oftentimes, burnout is contagious. So it’s crucial to support your employees from a whole-person well-being perspective. This means caring for employees both in and out of the office.
How to show you care beyond the workplace
Put your people first. Here are a few ways you can show care and provide extra support needed during this difficult time.
1. Encourage “free” time
Recovery time is essential to curbing possible burnout. Employees managing outside stressors such as crisis fatigue need dedicated time during the day or week to recover. Set aside “free” time for employees to spend a part of their day however they would like. Consider dedicating a team meeting or 1:1 to activities like meditating, reading, learning or facilitating a discussion around current events to help employees voice concerns and talk openly.
2. Invest time and resources into financial well-being
Support employees’ financial well-being by providing helpful resources and tools to tackle short- and long-term financial goals. With more than 33.5 million Americans filing for unemployment since mid-March, and the number growing, financial stability during crisis is crucial to emotional well-being. Use these tools and checklist to support employee financial health.
3. Offer support and connection
If you feel that an employee needs additional support, simply offer it. Ask employees, “How can I help?” or “What more can I do to support you?” to show your support without prying. Connect employees with their coworkers through Employee Resource Groups, People Team office hours or open forums with leadership. Listen and show your employees you care through ongoing and honest conversations.
On top of non-work stressors, it’s also important to continue to create a culture of safety in the workplace. Nurses and healthcare workers continue to face challenging work demands on top of their own personal health and well-being. Research from the CDC states, “healthcare workers experiencing fatigue can jeopardize their own health and safety, such as increasing their susceptibility to infectious diseases, needlesticks, work-related muscle injuries and burnout, as well as committing patient care errors.” Providing support through policies and procedures that relieve employees of duties when they’re faced with fatigue creates a culture of safety that puts the well-being of the worker first.
It’s no secret that being stressed at work is linked to burnout. Strive to find a balance between addressing the work stressors and non-work stressors that impact your employees. They both play a role in supporting the whole employee — their emotional, physical, financial and work well-being.
Visit our Care in Crisis Resource Center to access our latest resources available to help your company and employees stay safe and connected.