HRE’s number of the day: COVID-related stress

A staggering majority of employees say the pandemic is increasing their stress level. Here’s what that means for HR leaders.
By: | March 11, 2021 • 2 min read

90: Percentage of employees who say COVID-19 has contributed to increasing their stress level

A survey of 1,288 employees from provider SilverCloud Health finds that nine in 10 workers say the pandemic has increased their stress level. The survey also finds that 81% of those with depression and anxiety have experienced a greater need for mental health treatment during COVID-19 and 30% of employees have experienced an increased need for mental health treatment during the pandemic.

What it means to HR leaders

The data is the latest to point to the exorbitant amount of stress employees are experiencing due to COVID-19. A recent report from wellness provider Grokker found that roughly three-quarters of employees are experiencing stress, so SilverCloud’s survey paints an even more serious picture.

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Overall, rates of burnout, stress, depression and anxiety are up exponentially in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, and research indicates that employee mental health issues are only worsening as the pandemic approaches the one-year mark. “Levels of stress are absolutely astronomical,” Arianna Huffington, CEO of Thrive Global, a wellness company that focuses on behavior change technology, said recently during a webinar. “HR doesn’t have to convince the C-suite that this is a problem.”

Related: Mental health numbers ‘going in the wrong direction’

SilverCloud’s research indicates that even though the need for expanded mental health benefits and care is great, a large number of employees aren’t able to access appropriate mental health support and care—meaning employers need to significantly step up their efforts. The survey finds that 66% of employees agree or strongly agree their employer could be doing more to help support their wellbeing and mental health.

“Nearly a year into the pandemic, employees feel like they are truly lacking the tools and resources to help them manage their feelings of stress and anxiety,” says SilverCloud Health CEO Ken Cahill. “These feelings are compounded further as a result of things like parental guilt, pandemic fatigue and the challenge of trying to remain productive in an almost all-remote environment.”

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s 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. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.