We have been monitoring the degree of stress and anxiety that mobility programs are feeling across the function. From mobile employees to internal stakeholders (think recruiting, hiring managers, accounts payable, payroll, compensation and benefits, etc.) to external partners, stress levels ramped up at the onset of the pandemic and have been exacerbated by an unending stream of issues including global politics, supply-chain challenges, sustainability threats, and social and racial justice gaps. In a recent post ("How is increased stress impacting mobility programs?"), we shared some recent information on the topic and rolled out a Mobility Minute Survey to collect information on how stress is impacting mobility programs. 

We all recognize that stress has amped up, peaking periodically, and that many have felt the impact at work and at home as evidenced by the degree of articles coming out about employee wellness and wellbeing. We have seen proof that coming back to the office was stressing some employees out to the point of resigning. Many workers have experienced feelings of overwhelming anxiety for many reasons, but particularly as it relates to changing work dynamics and structures, as well as a return to the workplace. A report by employee experience platform Limeade found that 100% of workers have stress around returning to work. In fact, 58% of workers say they would “absolutely” look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely in their current position. The fears of contracting COVID-19, an added commute, the loss of flexibility and a lack of childcare were the top reasons for their stress. 

We have seen others speak about remote work making employees anxious about their job security. Additionally, other fears have escalated due to political elections, social injustices, sustainability issues and increasing reports of violence. Variants, vaccine mandates, testing, lingering infections and constant restriction changes have created a situation (fear on top of fear, on top of fear) where nearly 20% of employees are at risk for developing PTSD according to the latest Mental Health Index by Total Brain and the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. That is 53% higher than pre-pandemic rates! Additionally, two in three adults said the number of issues America is facing is overwhelming to them.

Digging in further, this article in Human Resource Executive shares that because prolonged stress is persisting at elevated levels:

"Sustained attention has declined 24% since April and is now 59% lower than pre-pandemic levels. When comparing focus now to one month ago, employees ages 60 and above show a whopping 125% decline, and those ages 20-39 reveal a 37% decline. Further, planning is trending down 8% in the past month. Findings indicate that planning has declined 30% among workers ages 60 and older since April."

It's a global issue. This Forbes article revisited some key stats related to how we ended 2020 and rolled right into 2021. Here are three of them:

  1. The poll concluded that 2020 “officially became the most stressful year in recent history.”
  2. Nearly 190 million people experienced significantly higher stress in 2020 than in years past.
  3. In 2020, the world was a sadder, angrier, more worried and more stressed-out place than it has been at any time in the past 15 years.

So at this point, have you seen evidence of prolonged elevated stress (maybe even hidden PTSD) impacting your mobility program? 

Today, managers are being encouraged to watch for anxieties and fears that can spiral into PTSD and other mental health challenges and impact an employee’s day-to-day functions. Managers are trying to learn to recognize warning signs like a lack of concentration, worsening relationships with coworkers and staff, and higher rates of absenteeism. This past June (National PTSD Awareness Month) saw Espyr create this Manager's Guide to Post Traumatic Stress in the Workplace. Also, the APA offered the following evidence-based advice to help people manage their stress, and managers would benefit from considering these suggestions.