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Whether your employees go into work or your staff is working from home, COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way your workplace operates. Anxiety and fear over the virus is all too common. In fact, 7 in 10 workers in the United States reported that the pandemic has been the most stressful period in their entire professional career.

What’s more, employees under stress are more likely to contribute to absenteeism and make more mistakes in their work. It may also lead to more injuries on the job due to carelessness or inattentiveness. So what can you do to help your employees cope with the inevitable stresses related to working during the pandemic? The first step is recognizing the symptoms of stress.

Symptoms of Stress

We all know what stress feels like, but it’s important to remind ourselves of all the potential symptoms that others might experience:

  • Feeling irritation, anger, or in denial
  • Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
  • Lacking motivation
  • Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having trouble concentrating

The CDC lists several work-related factors that can contribute to stress during the pandemic:

  • Concern about the risk of being exposed to the virus at work
  • Taking care of personal and family needs while working
  • Managing a different workload
  • Lack of access to the tools and equipment needed to perform your job
  • Feelings that you are not contributing enough to work or guilt about not being on the frontline
  • Uncertainty about the future of your workplace and/or employment
  • Learning new communication tools and dealing with technical difficulties
  • Adapting to a different workspace and/or work schedule

Help Employees Build Stress Resilience During the Pandemic

While it’s important to maintain boundaries and privacy for employees, it’s okay to remind employees of helpful tips for mitigating stress. The CDC recommends sharing the following advice with your employees:

  • Identify those things which you do not have control over and do the best you can with the resources available to you.
  • Increase your sense of control by developing a consistent daily routine when possible — ideally one that is similar to your schedule before the pandemic.
  • Know the facts about COVID-19. Be informed about how to protect yourself and others. Understanding the risk and sharing accurate information with people you care about can reduce stress and help you make a connection with others.
  • Remind yourself that each of us has a crucial role in fighting this pandemic.
  • Remind yourself that everyone is in an unusual situation with limited resources.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting and mentally exhausting
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns, how you are feeling, or how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting you.

If you or one of your employees is experiencing a high level of stress during the pandemic, it’s important to connect with a healthcare professional. If you need assistance related to COVID-19 testing, be sure to reach out to your workers’ compensation professional.