Employee Burnout

Six Greatest Mental Health Challenges HR Leaders Face from COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Starling Minds

Published | Jul 26, 2020

Challenges impacting HR

While it may be years before researchers and sociologists uncover the true cost of COVID-19, here is what we do know about organizations:

  • Employee Turnover: 58% of HR leaders are concerned that the mental toll of working from home will cause them to lose employees who may be forced to take time off due to burnout (Source)
  • E-Presenteeism Culture: 79% of HR managers believe long-term homeworking has unearthed a culture of so-called e-presenteeism – where employees feel obliged to be online as often as possible, even after working hours; E-Presenteeism has the potential to negatively impact employees’ mental health by causing additional stress, burnout, and anxiety (Source)
  • Employee Burnout: In one UK study, employees worked an extra 28 hours of monthly overtime since the lockdown (Source)
  • Low Team Morale: 56% of HR worry that team dynamics due to lack of social connection is lowering team culture and morale (Source). Negative interactions among teams have a five-fold stronger effect on mood than positive interactions. (Source)
  • Mental Health Program Gaps: 65% of workers say they don’t feel their employer offers benefits or programs that help support or improve their mental wellbeing for the COVID-19 era (Source)
  • Business Recovery: 75% of businesses worry about attracting customers as they re-open and it’s putting a lot of pressure on employees (Source)
Reducing the Negative Workforce Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19

Employee Turnover

It’s been said that employees do not quit jobs, they quit their boss. As a digital mental health organization, employers have reached out and requested we onboard manager training to ensure their team leaders recognize when employees exhibit signs of mental health struggles. Through our digital platform and workshops, we help leaders, managers, and employees build their self-awareness and boundaries to ensure they gain the real-life tools they need to successfully manage their mental health for whatever life throws at them. 

E-Presenteeism Culture

As we slowly move forward from the initial lockdown of COVID-19, it will be even more important for managers to encourage employees to turn off work at a reasonable hour. Even the best and most resilient employees aren’t built to sustain long-periods of cognitive functioning without a meaningful break. HR and department leaders should encourage and implement policies to help their workforce turn off work and recharge their energy. For example, restrict managers from sending emails after 5 PM local time. 

Employee Burnout

The term “burnout” is often cited as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. The problem with burnout is oftentimes employees wear it like a badge of honour, a reminder that they are relied on. However, what employees may not know is that burnout is a direct pathway to depression. Burnout not only impacts your cells and organs, but it also impacts your brain a great deal leading to higher risks in human error, poorer judgement and critical thinking, and substance abuse. As such, HR and department heads should re-evaluate employee mental health programs and policies to ensure it combats a culture that may lead to high-levels of burnout, especially in a pandemic when employees are experiencing elevated levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout. 

Low Team Morale

Low team morale is one of the greatest challenges managers face, but it’s also one of the most important issues to deal with in an authentic, honest, and approachable way. This is particularly important for organizations that have gone through a series of layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many teams have likely lost a few members, leaving the remaining ones left to take on the extra work. To help rebuild team morale, managers should openly address problems head-on and use it as an opportunity to seek feedback and look for solutions. As stress and negative behaviour often leads to disruptions and lower team morale, it’s important for managers to create a safe space where employees feel comfortable talking about their frustrations, anxieties, and stresses at work. Managers should then ensure resources are available to help them. 

Mental Health Program Gaps

The Psychological Health and Safety Standards was created to raise awareness around the factors impacting the mental health of workforces. As a key first step, the standards encourage organizations to evaluate gaps within their mental health policies, and onboard processes and solutions to improve the mental resilience of employees. As such, organizations should collect employee survey results and feedback on what type of mental health support and tools employees want and need. 

Business Recovery

An important step to helping businesses recover from extraordinary events like pandemics is to make safeguarding employee mental health a goal, and revise mental health policies accordingly. Remember, businesses need to recover, which means employees need to recover as well. Right now, employees will struggle to gain access to mental healthcare due to wait times, therefore have digital solutions in place to act as a second line of defense to safeguard employee mental health. 

Download the Infographic: Six Greatest Mental Health Challenges HR Leaders Face from COVID-19 Pandemic

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Starling Minds™ is a digital mental health platform that reduces absence and disability costs by delivering immediate, unlimited, and personalized online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Developed by leading psychologists, Starling’s digital therapy is powered by an expert system that emulates the processes and practices of human-guided therapy to remove the greatest barriers preventing employees from accessing affordable and effective mental health care—cost, access, and stigma.

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