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The State of American Workers a Year into the COVID-19 Shutdown

New York, NY – Stress is still high as we approach the one year mark of the Covid-19 shutdown. With so many uncertainties, the need for mental health support in the workplace has never been greater.

In many cases, boundaries around the work/life balance have become severely blurred. Many employees who work remotely are feeling disconnected, isolated and depressed. Families with children and parents learning and working remotely are left struggling to find a healthy balance between their personal and public lives. 

Although the problems of Covid-19 are global, the pandemic is impacting people differently. Research from The Center for American Progress reveals that Covid is impacting women in the workforce disproportionately; gender equity is eroding and  affordable childcare is evaporating. According to recent studies, workplace gains have been especially compromised for women of color. Regardless of corporate initiatives which look to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion, the impact of the ongoing pandemic over the last year, have undermined many hard-won battles.  

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, in past recessions where men were impacted in the workforce and women were employed at a higher rate, Covid-era effects are showing opposite results. Data from the Labor Department further show that 865,000 left the workforce this last September, resulting in financial hardships for families in need of dual or multiple incomes.

Other workplace stressors for the remote worker involve home life issues with spouses or partners. Scheduling issues have become a problem. Healthy balances in wellness and leisure have become a struggle. In fact, many corporations have sought various wellness content to improve mental fitness initiatives as a means to improve morale in a severely altered climate.

The work atmosphere has changed; with no clarity as to when, or if, we will see a return to our old routines. Emails, phone calls and Zoom meetings have replaced lunchroom conversations and real human connections. Still, the need for connectedness is a call that must be answered, which is why strong employers are seeking new ways to engage their remote employees. Strong team leaders are encouraging new goals and making new plans to motivate new committees and new non-work related groups to gain interactive visibility, ensure personal connections and boost employee engagement. 

With no easy answers, the need to pull together in this time of crisis is clear. Arguments over politics and whether the impact of the Covid virus was handled properly are useless. Either way, we have an economy to save. We have a race to run, equity to regain and a country to rebuild. Arguing will only move us further away from that goal. Agreed?

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on thewrittenaddiction.com, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at bennyk1972@gmail.com

 

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