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Employee Well-Being During the COVID-19 Crisis

Well-being is related to physical or mental health concerns of the employee or those of his or her family. As the employability marketplace improved between 2010 and 2019, employees found opportunities to prioritize caring for themselves and their families and placed high importance on well-being reasons in their decisions to stay or quit a job. Some of the efforts companies made to promote general health had a small, but noteworthy effect on improving employee sense of well-being and on employee retention.

Employee well-being includes the need to resolve personal problems, the desire to spend more time with family, and the need for a less stressful job (job stress, being overworked, lack of support to take time off). Employees who cite personal health issues as a reason for leaving their job mentioned medical issues that temporarily or permanently prevented them from working required hours, pregnancy and family issues including caregiving to an ill or aged family member or child. To ensure retention of good employees for as long as possible, organizations should recognize the challenges employees face and work with employees to accommodate special needs in a reasonable and cost-beneficial manner.

In 2019, nine out of 100 employees quit for well-being reasons.

To promote work-life balance do you need to consider flextime, telecommuting, assistance with childcare/eldercare, financial counseling, or more flexible leave options? You will not know until you ask.

COVID-19 introduces additional well-being concerns to employees and employers. Evidenced by fear, uncertainty, anxiety, physical complaints, and interpersonal and employee-employer conflict, we are unsure what a post COVID-19 work environment will look like, and this is increasing employee and organizational stress. As April 2020 unemployment went from < 3.4% to > 13%, the highest rate since the Great Depression, COVID-19 may actually introduce a redefined sense of well-being in the workplace.

Some questions that currently effect employee well-being are:

  • Will companies reopen?
  • Will jobs return?
  • Are co-workers okay?
  • What about 401k’s?
  • What about health benefits?
  • Many have been working from home, what does a return to that commute look like?
  • What are the new hygiene practices in the workplace?
  • Are organizations and employees overwhelmed as the multitude of counsel yields confusion?
  • Are employees and employers making erroneous assumptions about current and subsequent employment?

Evidenced by fear, uncertainty, anxiety, physical complaints, and interpersonal familial and employee-employer conflict, fists are tight, jaws and neck muscles are clenched, and we are all hyper-vigilant around others. A mere cough or sniffle in the grocery store causes us to suspend breathing. Our bodies are telling us something: We are stressed.

Organizations need to do something about the stress of their employees.

Employers who do not actively pay attention to their workers’ needs to take care of themselves and their families will see additional turnover. To ensure an organization retains good employees as long as possible, it’s critical to understand the challenges employees face and to accommodate special needs.