New data suggests that the COVID-19 crisis is having a real impact on employees’ mental health and affecting their ability to function. You can help them.
It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 crisis has taken a toll on workers’ mental wellness. However, according to a new SHRM survey, up to a third of employees often feel symptoms of depression as they deal with this crisis.
Among other findings from the study:
- Nearly half (45%) of workers agree with the statement: “I felt used up at the end of the workday,” versus 38% who disagree.
- Nearly half (45%) of respondents say they feel emotionally drained by their work.
- 41% say they feel burned out by work.
- 55% of employees say they have little interest or pleasure in doing things since the COVID-19 crisis began.
- 38% of service-based workers say they feel tired, compared to 31% of people in knowledge-based industries and 26% of physical-based employees.
Despite their feelings of depression, anxiety, and/or burnout, only 7% report having contacted a mental health professional for help.
According to the study authors, employers can help by:
- Prioritizing mental health. Remind employees about their mental health and wellness benefits and how they can access these. Consider some special offerings such as free or reduced-cost therapy sessions with a mental health professional (that can be held via video chat). Encourage employees who are struggling with anxiety, depression, burnout, or other feelings to ask for help; make it clear that their feelings are not uncommon in a crisis and that there is no shame in admitting they need help.
- Using technology to offer mental health resources. Send them links to videos, articles, webinars, etc. that offer useful information. Let them know about counseling services they can access online or via phone or video. Encourage workers to utilize your employee assistance program (EAP) if they need help.
- Staying in touch. Employees need to hear consistent, compassionate, inspiring, and useful messages regularly from leadership. Reach out with video programs, live chats, email messages, and in-person check-ins. Administer short surveys to assess workers’ feelings and act on what you learn from these.
- Offering emotional support. This isn’t a one-and-done effort. Offer regular guidance, information, and support. Encourage managers to talk to their teams and encourage them to share fears, concerns, and worries without fear of being judged.
“COVID-19 is taking a toll on our minds and emotions in a million little ways,” said SHRM president and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. “Now, more than ever, employers should double down against stigmas and guarantee employees know of the resources, benefits, and accommodations available.”