Ch-Ch-Changes at Work and Home Put Employees in Stress Crosshairs: How HR Can Help

MediKeeper Health Risk Assessment Insights Reveal Large Increases in Job Loss, Career Changes and Divorce in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

SAN DIEGO, June 23, 2021​​Achieving work-life blending has never been more challenging for employees than during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted all aspects of daily life. To understand the pressures employees are facing today, MediKeeper has released the third and final part of its 2021 Workplace Wellness Benchmark Report, a comprehensive analysis of the state of wellness and wellbeing indicators among today’s workforce, focusing on employment, family life and personal connections. These data represent anonymized insights from employees who opted to complete MediKeeper’s National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) certified Health Risk Assessment (HRA). MediKeeper provides workplace wellness technology used by more than 11 million people at work that helps them make smarter health-related decisions.

While the SARS-CoV-2 virus and associated COVID-19 disease began to run rampant across the world in 2020, and continues today, employees are working to establish a “new normal” in their daily lives following significant changes. MediKeeper HRA data show a 31% increase in the number of workers who experienced job loss in 2021 vs. 2020, and a 27% increase in those who changed jobs or careers, spotlighting how dynamic the workplace is today. In addition, these data show a 30% increase in workers who report a recent divorce or separation in 2021 vs. 2020, and as well as 28% more employees feeling isolated with no friends to talk to. The mental health impacts of relationship changes, job disruption, and isolation have serious implications for overall health, as well as absence, leave and work disability support programming.

Human Resources Positioned to Help Employees Undergoing Significant Changes at Work and Home

“Our HRA data show that many of us are confronting multiple changes in our lives all at once, whether mental or physical health challenges, job disruption, a breakup, or mourning the death of a family member,” said Dr. Tyler Amell, Chief Health Officer at MediKeeper. “It’s critical for company leaders and human resources professionals to understand and be empathetic toward their employees who need more support in managing stress and learning how to concentrate at work with life in flux. Fortunately there are innovative new digital tools and resources designed to teach mindfulness techniques, promote resiliency, and provide practical steps employees can take to remain calm and collected at work amid the chaos of daily life in 2021.”

There are various strategies that HR leaders can use to help their employees, including ensuring PTO time is used and not carried over, listening to employee concerns over health & safety, and making sure that their people know where to turn for help. Dr. Amell suggests that HR administrators provide a convenient way for employees to access programs and services such as the following:

  • More frequent health risk assessments or surveys: Many employers limit their use of HRAs to one time per year, usually coinciding with benefit open enrollment, but more frequent approaches such as quarterly refresh or monthly pulse surveys can be used on a regular basis to assess employee sentiment and health. This is quite useful in times of rapid change, and can be very helpful when supporting employees. Technology exists that integrates engagement and health, and can help HR professionals be more agile in an ever-changing world.
  • Listen and dialogue with employees: Share current, near and longer-term business strategies (as applicable) with employees in order to increase confidence, decrease stress, and promote team cohesion. Listen and more importantly, hear their concerns. Return-to-the-office strategies, hybrid remote work plans, growth, and retrenchment are often thought of in practical terms, without regard for how they impact mental and physical health as well as company culture. The employees are moving into the driver’s seat, newly empowered and looking for change, so taking the time to promote the best, most positive culture will serve the organization and its people very well in the next 1-2 years. This approach will help with job retention and onboarding the ever-increasing number of new people as churn rates increase.
  • Use PTO to recharge and de-stress: We are still in a global pandemic, and will be for a while. Although travel is opening up for those vaccinated against COVID-19, not everyone is ready to get on a plane quite yet. Promoting PTO use, for staycations or vacations, is crucial to help people recharge. A person’s energy level, and ability to deal with change and stress, is much like a cell phone battery. When the cell phone is used often, it needs to recharge frequently. The human brain and body are the same, and when they don’t get recharged as needed, the consequences for health are much more severe than when a cell phone turns itself off!
  • Promote all the tools in the HR toolbox: A wellbeing strategy no doubt has plenty of options, from a wellness portal solution that can assess health and provide programming to drive behavior change and engagement, to an EAP, as well as access to a myriad of point solutions. Leveraging your portals’ communication and social functions will help with feelings of isolation. Making sure staff knows these employer-sponsored programs exist, and are available to help people deal with stress and change go a long way towards promoting a healthy workforce, and a resilient one as well.

Pandemic Patterns: Workers Face Changing Worlds at Work and Home

MediKeeper’s HRA data provide key health indicators for personal health and wellness, including anxiety, stress and depression, which were addressed individually in other sections of the Workplace Wellness Benchmark report. Below are highlights of the current state of employee job data, family life and personal connections this year compared with 2020 data.

Workplace Trends in 2021

  • 31% increase in employees who have experienced job loss
  • 27% increase in those who had a recent career or job change
  • 19% increase in employees who are overworked, up from 12% in 2020 to 14% in 2021
  • 17% increase in those concerned over job security

Personal Life Trends in 2021

  • 30% increase in employees who have had a recent divorce or separation, and nearly as many (29% increase) of those worried about their current personal relationship
  • 28% increase in employees who have no friends to talk to
  • 23% increase in employees who lost a family member or close friend
  • 22% increase in employees concerned about their children’s performance, habits or behavior
  • 15% increase in employees facing legal worries
  • 13% increase in employees who have recently or are about to move homes
  • 12% increase in employees with financial worries

These data from MediKeeper’s best in class HRA support HR departments that are using or planning to use wellness programming to assist the transition from remote to office work. To learn more about wellness trends and programming post-COVID-19, please visit: https://medikeeper.com/resources/2021-workplace-wellness-benchmark-report/.

About the MediKeeper Workplace Wellness Benchmark Report

The inaugural MediKeeper Workplace Wellness Benchmark Report is based on anonymized insights from a representative sample of employees who opted to complete a National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) certified Health Risk Assessment (HRA) offered by their employer. For this report, MediKeeper drew on responses from 67,118 employees who completed the HRA in 2020 to establish the baseline. Percent change data in 2021 and 2021-specific data is based on 10,540 HRA responses from employees who opted to complete an HRA between January 1 to March 11, 2021.

The HRA covers a range of topics, including Mental Health and Stress, Employment/Jobs, Personal Health/Wellness and Personal Relationships/Connections.

About MediKeeper

MediKeeper offers a comprehensive suite of health management tools designed for employer groups, health plans, brokers, TPA’s, and wellness companies. The company’s Wellness Portal and Health Risk Assessment tools enable healthcare consumers to make smarter health-related decisions. Founded in 2003, MediKeeper technology gathers and analyzes disparate health data. By providing de-identified population reporting in a seamlessly integrated portal, MediKeeper’s customers are better able to manage their population’s health and make smarter wellness investments. Visit us at https://medikeeper.com/. Follow our blog at https://medikeeper.com/resources/blog/ and on Twitter @medikeeper.

Media Contacts:

Jill Reed or Peter Brooks, Sift Communications for MediKeeper, [email protected]

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