There is a real impact on workers during this time, from fires to COVID, the strain is showing…

A new report from The Wellbeing Lab and Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) reveals the real impact of recent tragedies including the fires and COVID, on workers need for HR’s support.

 Over 80% of workers interviewed indicate their mental health issues have increased in the months covering the bushfires and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is just one of the findings from The State of Wellbeing in Australia research from The Wellbeing Lab and the AHRI. Only about 10% of workers reported they were doing fine right now. This is because just as the recovery from the fires began, our world plunged into chaos from a severe pandemic. 

  The researchers went back to respondents in March to see how these events would change workers’ answers. The report offers a unique look at how workplace well-being has been affected by the onset of COVID-10.

  These are Exceptional Times

  Researchers interviewed the participants again and asked them the same questions about their well-being in light of the bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential economic recession. They were asked additional questions around their anxiety towards COVID-19 and the economy. 

  Over 80% of respondents said they were worried about the economy and coronavirus. 

  Stress isn’t a weakness

  Surprisingly, participants’ job satisfaction didn’t change too much. The results show feelings of struggle or stress don’t always undermine work performance. Workers who reported medium levels of worry and anxiety about these challenges were significantly more likely to report lower levels of performance. Download our Free COVID relaxation session to help you relax and destress.

  What Can We Do

  When asking workers who they turned to when stressed or anxious over these events, only 3% said they’d go to their HR. Workers would rather not speak to anyone at work about their problems, especially the HR team. 

Overwhelmingly people were more likely to speak to someone outside of work. The person they were least likely to ask was their boss and, even less likely than that, their HR representative.

  Interestingly, people who did go to HR were more likely to see an improvement in their well-being. It is unfortunate workers remain hesitant to ask for support through their work.  

  In the March 2020 data collection, there was an increase in the number of people seeking assistance from HR and through their EAP program. It still lagged behind speaking to someone outside of work, but overall more people were looking to the HR department for clear communication about the actions they should be taking at this distressing time. 

  There is an opportunity here for HR to step up and fully support worker’s well-being which can positively change that relationship on the other side of this crisis. Further, those employees offering EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) should be proactively recommending workers contact EAP to register and speak to a counsellor. Discussing and being accepted in non-judgemental ways with full confidentiality can significantly help and support so many, especially during this time. HR nor EAP know your issues, these remain confidential between you and your counsellor. Taking some time to relax and distress also is very advantageous.

 It’s Time to Help

  This is a time for HR’s to step up. There is a trust issue with HR and bosses; people think ‘oh I need to keep it to myself, I don’t want them to know I’m struggling’ or it could be ‘I don’t know who in HR to talk to or how to reach HR’. Whatever the reason, HR needs to open those doors and encourage communication now more than ever. 

  HR professionals themselves might be struggling. It’s also essential for HR to reach out for help when they need it. Speaking to their EAP or a Counsellor and using all the resources at hand, is very valuable in all these difficult times.

For more information please visit LifstyleDr Karen Phillip


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