Employee well-being during a pandemic

Stress at work

Covid-19 is undoubtedly impacting our individual and collective mental health. Each one of us is going through stressful times right now and learning to cope in different ways. The Pew Research Center reports that during extended periods of social distancing, 1 out of 3 Americans have experienced high levels of psychological distress.

In the July American Psychological Association (APA) monthly COVID-19 pulse survey that is part of their “Stress in America” survey series, reports that stress levels have remained consistent the last three months during the pandemic, however Americans reported an increase in negative feelings from the pandemic, racial injustice and the political climate. These negative feelings include feeling frustrated, scared and angry.

Stress and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic are real, significantly impacting the lives of workers across many industries, both essential and non-essential, whether someone is working remotely or on-site. More than ever, it is critical for supervisors and managers to lead with empathy and support employee emotional and mental health during this time and for organizations to assess and identify the well-being needs of their workforce and design healthy work habits to support well-being.

Stress at Work Employee Well-being during a pandemic Oregon Healthy Workforce Center

During the efforts to better understand employee well-being during the coronavirus, OHSU established a COVID Wellness Task Force and asked Institute scientists, Leslie Hammer, Ph.D. and David Hurtado Sc.D. to serve on the task force and assist in developing and evaluating a Wellness Pulse Survey with Dr. Abigail Lenhart. They brought their expert guidance and knowledge in the research areas of occupational health psychology, how supportive supervision at work impacts health and social epidemiology to identify how workplace supports and resources produce and maintain psychological health, stress, and well-being. The Well-being Pulse Survey for OHSU members included items related to:

  • Current psychological health and well-being: burnout, anxiety, depression, sleepiness, physical health, personal/family life, finances, loneliness, covid proximity and symptoms
  • Workplace experience: safety equipment and procedures, supervisor support, co-worker support, organizational commitment, work-family and family-work conflict
  • Wellness resources: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), counseling programs, COVID wellness website, financial programs, peer support program, respite spaces

The OHSU COVID Wellness Task Force experts recommended additional follow-up surveys in the future to capture the overall and changing impact of COVID response for the OHSU community. Additionally, OHSU has established a Childcare Solutions Committee to help develop solutions for working parents. Our Institute’s Outreach Specialist, Nichole Guilfoy represents the institute and sits on that committee, providing her expertise in workforce well-being and human resources.

The Institute appreciates all those involved with the OHSU COVID Wellness Task Force and Childcare Solutions Committee that are helping to support the well-being of our workforce.

For more information, visit the Institute’s COVID-19 World of Work page to finds trainings, such as Oregon Healthy Workforce Center’s free 10-min Pandemic Response Training for Managers and Supervisors, as well as guides, articles and federal and state resources related to work and COVID. For access to our  Total Worker Health® tools and toolkits, visit: YourWorkpath.com.

2 responses to “Employee well-being during a pandemic

  1. Sometimes working from home I end up working late as I am in a flow. Although this normally ends up being a productive use of time. I do find myself exhausted by the end of the week. Maybe there should be a way of signing remote workers out of systems at a certain time to help.

    Great post by the way. Best wishes
    James Harding

  2. Absolutely! From re-opening offices, making school decisions, and trying to determine how to gather with friends in a socially distant way, COVID-19 is the determining factor in most of our decisions.

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