This year, it may seem rather fitting that International Stress Awareness Day (Wednesday 4 November) fell during a week that saw England enter a second national lockdown and a nail-bitingly close US Presidential election, the results of which were still undetermined at the time of writing.
Already in 2020, many organisations have put measures in place to support employees’ mental, physical, emotional and financial wellbeing. They may well find that employees turn to these for support over the next few weeks as issues such as concerns over job security, financial difficulties and isolation once again come sharply to the fore for thousands of individuals.
Statistics from Drinkaware, for example, found that 26% of people increased their alcohol intake during the peak lockdown months between March and June 2020.
Although, in theory, the re-opening of schools and availability of childcare during the second lockdown lessens the stresses experienced by working parents, research published this week by consultancy firm Theta Global Advisers found that 27% of respondents made provisions for childcare as they did not believe schools would reopen after the October half term. A similar proportion (28%) felt that their employer had been unsympathetic to them having to manage childcare around work during the pandemic, while 64% felt that parents have been hardest hit by the pandemic as they had to simultaneously work, take care of, and home school children. With the ever-present shadow of school bubbles having to self-isolate should one individual within it test positive for Covid-19, these pressures are far from over for working parents.
Keeping a close eye out for warning signs that employees are struggling, therefore, is vital, despite the difficulties involved in doing so if employees are currently primarily working remotely in line with the latest government advice. Factors such as productivity, quality of work, physical appearance and attitude can all give an indication of how well an individual is coping with a particular situation.
There are few that would disagree that the coming weeks are likely to be a testing time for many. Ensuring staff are aware of, and feel able to utilise, available support, therefore, will be key to helping staff to manage stress and maintaining a resilient workforce.