The COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress levels in just about every area of consumers’ lives. Now, a new study conducted by researchers from the American Psychological Association explored how stress levels are impacting how consumers feel about their jobs.
According to their survey findings, many consumers are facing increasingly higher levels of stress and are considering leaving their current positions within the year.
“Stress at work can have broad negative consequences for employers and employees alike, including loss of productivity, high turnover, and repercussions for employees’ physical and emotional health,” said researcher Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D. “A workplace that pays attention to worker well-being is better positioned to recruit and retain engaged and productive staff.”
Workplace stress is on the rise
For the study, the researchers analyzed data from over 1,500 adults enrolled in the Work and Well-being Survey. Participants answered questions about their work experience since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, how stressed they’ve been feeling, their likelihood of staying in their current positions, and what their employers can do to improve mental health.
Nearly 45% of the participants said they plan to find new jobs within the next year because of increased stress levels. Those figures were even higher for participants of color and participants with disabilities.
Low salaries were the biggest source of stress for participants, followed by long hours and lack of opportunity for growth. That stress correlated to an inability to focus, a lack of motivation, and an unwillingness to put in an effort at work. This was especially true for frontline workers; 35% of these employees said they frequently felt fed up at work within the last month.
What can employers do?
Nearly 90% of the participants believe their employers can do more to help their mental health in the workplace. Some ideas included encouraging employees to use their time off, prioritizing mental health check-ins, and providing flexible hours.
If employees were only given one perk to improve their stress levels, getting higher compensation was the top choice. That was followed by having a more flexible schedule and improving benefits.
Ultimately, the researchers explained that the pandemic not only changed consumers’ lives, but it also changed the way they work and think about work. To help combat the added stress, they recommend that employers use these findings and implement strategies that give consumers time to focus on their mental health.
“During the pandemic, many employers switched to remote work where possible, thus providing greater flexibility for their employees,” said Dr. Evans. “Policies that promote flexible hours and breaks during the workday and provide other forms of support for employees to take care of themselves may also help employers retain staff in competitive markets.”