Coronavirus (COVID-19), HR Management & Compliance

Consider Employee Mental Health Needs During COVID-19

It is an understatement, and a cliché, to say that we are all living in very challenging and uncertain times. Of course, it is also abundantly clear. We are.

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You—and your employees—have been forced, with minimal notice, to face significant changes that impact both professional and personal lives. With being required to work from home, being furloughed, losing jobs, having to care for children and others at home, concerns about health and safety, etc., we are all under a lot of pressure right now.

Mental health was already an area of increasing concern for employers long before COVID-19 emerged. But now, the issue is especially top of mind for all of us. Thoughts of returning to work can be especially stressful in an uncertain environment where health dangers related to COVID-19 contraction continue to exist.

Top Concerns Related to Return to Work

Sequoia Consulting Group recently conducted a survey on the top concerns related to return to work, including mental health resources, flexibility, office protocols, masks and testing services, and different plans for high-risk workers or those with children or mental health concerns. Some of the highlights of the findings include:

Those most negatively impacted by remote work:

  • Working parents with young children: 74%
  • Working parents with school-aged children: 64%
  • People living alone: 43%
  • Newly onboarded employees: 40%
  • People with multiple roommates: 31%

Must-have factors for return to work:

  • Protocols to limit spread of the virus: 94% will have
  • Reporting test results for COVID-19 will be required: 74%
  • Employees will have to acknowledge the responsibility to their colleagues for taking precautions to avoid contracting the virus: 84%
  • Mask mandates while in the office: 81%
  • Daily reporting: 57%
  • Recommended COVID-19 testing: 36%
  • Required COVID-19 testing: 28%

More than half of the responding companies indicate they are offering some form of mental health resource (65%), including:

  • Stipends (60%)
  • Ergonomic support (46%)
  • Workout stipends (29%)
  • Childcare support (15%)

Fifty-six percent of employers will allow employees with anxiety to work from home at their own discretion or until the virus is no longer a threat.

Employers themselves aren’t that eager to have employees return to the physical work environment: 39% of companies will allow nonessential workers to work remotely until the end of 2020, 36% indefinitely, and 23% until shelter-in-place orders lift; 2% said they will let employees work from home “forever.”

How do your own plans and practices mirror or differ from these?