HRE’s number of the day: Coronavirus stress

69: Percentage of workers who say the coronavirus pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career

Nearly seven in 10 workers claim the coronavirus pandemic is the most stressful time of their professional career–even more than major events like 9/11 and the 2008 Great Recession, according to mental health provider Ginger. Every demographic, including adults over the age of 55, rated COVID-19 as the most stressful time. Overall, 88% of workers reported experiencing moderate to extreme stress over the past 4-6 weeks.

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Employee stress has a big impact on the workforce: Stressed out workers are typically less productive and more distracted and tend to experience higher rates of illness. Workers were already stressed before the pandemic, but the current situation is causing unprecedented levels of concern. In fact, according to Ginger, 62% of workers report losing at least one hour a day in productivity due to COVID-19-related stress, with 32% losing more than two hours per day.

The research indicates that HR and benefits leaders would be wise to step up and help employees through this time and address stress, anxiety and other concerns. Among the things they can do is focus on benefits that address stress, including mental health benefits, employee assistance programs and financial wellness programs. Regular communication about how employers are reacting to coronavirus and about benefits that can help employees also are key, experts say.

“Whether they are working on the front lines or working at home, employees are urgently in need of accessible, equitable mental health benefits now more than ever,” says Sally Welborn, former senior vice president of global benefits for Walmart Stores. “As employers wrestle with business continuity planning during COVID-19, this research confirms that employers need to make mental health support a critical aspect of that plan, or risk a dramatic impact on employee health and productivity.”

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.