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COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise across the country, and these climbing positivity rates combined with state travel restrictions and stay at home orders will leave many employees isolated and alone this holiday season.

Employee Stress Levels Already Reaching Tipping Point

A recent study conducted by employee experience technology company Limeade has found that employee stress levels are reaching a tipping point. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that while stressors have been building since COVID-19 reached the EU, a bleak and lonely holiday season may push many employees over the proverbial edge.

The Limeade study is based on feedback from more than 1,000 full-time employees located across the nation, and found some alarming trends, including that:

  • Just 31% of survey respondents strongly agree that their employers care about them as individuals.
  • 44% of burned out employees reported resenting their employer.
  • 52% of participants reported difficulties sleeping.
  • 38% of those experiencing burnout have increased alcohol or substance consumption.

Being Proactive Matters

SHRM encourages employers to be proactive in offering employee support in what is anticipated to be an extremely challenging holiday season. Before employee turnover or resentment can start, SHRM says that employers should equip and empower managers to “intentionally” connect with their teams, provide tools and resources to support and boost mental health, and encourage self-care whenever possible.

SHRM also encourages employers to not look at 2020 as a lost year, but instead recognize and celebrate accomplishments made this year, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Creative Approaches to Helping Employees Celebrate

SHRM notes that those employers who have turned to creative, outside the box tactics to support employees during this time have found themselves to be the most successful in doing so.

Allowing for greater flexibility to enable employees to spend time with their families, hosting virtual holiday events to celebrate employee success, holding a virtual children’s story-time hour, and reallocating budgets previously earmarked for annual holiday parties to special gifts and treats have all been touted as effective ways to boost employee morale and spirits.

The Need for Support Won’t End When the Ball Drops

Though many look forward to closing the door on 2020 and welcoming in a new year, experts warn that the first several months of 2021 will continue to be difficult.

Employers are urged to continue focusing on employee mental health and well-being efforts to support employees as holistically and completely as possible.