- The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption of workplaces in the U.S., according to a Gallup report released April 7. Daily stress levels continue to increase for employees due to factors such as telework and reduction of hours, the study showed, based on a comparison of Gallup Panel surveys from March 13-16 and March 27-29.
- More full-time employees are working from home due to COVID-19 closures, an increase from 33% to 61% with just two weeks in between the surveys. More employees said that COVID-19 caused "a great deal" or a "fair amount" of disruption in their lives, jumping from 58% to 81% of respondents saying so. Additionally, every employee surveyed said they have kept their children home from school because of COVID-19; previously, only 44% said as much.
- Compared to 2019 data, reports of daily stress have increased from 48% to 65%. However, organizations are improving in providing clear communication to employees, according to Gallup. More than half of respondents (52%) strongly agree that their employer has provided a clear plan of action in response to COVID-19, an improvement of 15 percentage points from mid-March.
As workers cope with worry and stress amid the COVID-19 pandemic, employers need to provide a caring environment and the tools to help them do their jobs remotely, say experts.
Limeade's 2020 Employee Care Report, released March 6, surveyed 1,000 full-time U.S. workers. Researchers found that 1 in 3 workers have left a job because they didn't feel their companies cared about them as a person. The report also found that 47% of workers who have disclosed a mental health issue have experienced a negative consequence. "Care doesn't just feel good for the employees, it's essential for the business," Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht told HR Dive in an interview. "If you want to attract and retain a workforce, right now you're sending a message to your employees what your true colors are."
To ensure newly remote workers are prepared, employers need to create an environment of transparency. "[Companies] should be direct and honest in communication and create a safe space for all employees to ask questions and admit if they don’t know how to use a certain technology," Wesley Connor, vice president of global learning and development for Randstad Enterprise Group, told HR Dive. "It’s all about establishing a culture that is conducive to learning." Connor added that after employees receive instruction from IT or a team leader, the information should always be accessible.
Employees are beginning to feel unprepared to do their jobs, according to the Gallup report, and employers have had to design new remote jobs that didn't exist a few weeks ago. Leadership skills have therefore emerged as a key differentiator in the crisis. Anita Williams Woolley, associate professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, told HR Dive it’s also important that whomever leads the team "has a high level of social intelligence and strong collaboration skills."