HRE’s number of the day: soaring stress levels

More than three-quarters of employees are struggling with stress. Here’s what that means for HR leaders.
By: | February 10, 2021 • 2 min read

76: Percentage of workers who describe themselves as currently stressed


More than three-quarters of employees are struggling with stress, according to a report from Grokker, and 46% of workers describe their stress levels as moderate or higher. The research overall finds that workers are more stressed than ever and that young employees, in particular, are suffering: While 67% of workers 60 years of age or older reported significant stress, the rate increases steadily across younger demographics with 73% of workers 45 to 59, 76% of workers 30 to 44, and 84% of workers 18 to 29 reporting significant levels of stress.

What it means for HR leaders

The data is the latest to point to a troubling trend of mental health issues among employees, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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’


The data indicates that employers and HR leaders need to zero in their efforts to help employees and find different ways of helping them cope, as well as engaging and connecting with them. More employers have turned to employee assistance programs, counseling benefits, app- and stress-based resources and more in the last year.

“In 2021 and beyond, there is no doubt that stress management will play an increasingly important role in the overall success of organizations in all sectors and industries,” the Grokker report found.

Spring HR Tech is coming. Register here.

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

More from HRE