Why managing stress must be a priority for employers during COVID-19

In International Stress Awareness Week (2nd – 6th Nov 2020)[i] Adrian Lewis from Activ Absence is urging employers to ensure they have effective systems in place to spot and manage stress in their workforce, especially as many are working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest October figures from the Office for National Statistics[ii] suggest that of the people who said their wellbeing had been affected by the coronavirus, 64% said they felt worried about the future, and 60% said they felt stressed or anxious.

Other new research by Benenden Health reveals that only half of UK adults would be honest about taking time off work for poor mental health, with three in ten (29%) admitting to covering up absences by telling their employer they had a physical health problem and a quarter (24%) taking time off as annual leave to avoid any awkward questions.

The research also found that UK employers agreed there is a stigma around discussing mental wellbeing at work, with a quarter (24%) saying they don’t know how to identify if an employee is struggling with their mental wellbeing.

Adrian Lewis, director at Active Absence says, “Before COVID-19 struck looking after the mental wellbeing of staff was moving up the corporate agenda, but now it must be a priority. The pandemic is affecting many workers who are worrying about their future, leading to feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. However employers are often unaware.   

“This is can be because of the stigma about talking about mental health and employees not feeling comfortable about letting their manager know how they are feeling. This year there are additional challenges too because many people are working remotely so it can be even more difficult for managers to spot the warning signs.”

“During International Stress Awareness Week we urge employers to check that they have robust policies and systems in place to keep an eye on people’s mental wellbeing and that these are working. If not, we recommend as a matter of urgency they put these in place.

“One quick and easy solution is to use absence management technology which can help employers’ pinpoint early signs that a worker may be struggling. This technology enables managers to track absence and see if any patterns emerge that could be red flags, such as someone taking a lot of time off. It also prompts return to work interviews which can offer the ideal safe space for an employee to feel comfortable discussing any issues. Employers can then offer support if needed.

“With stress and poor mental health on the rise due to the pandemic, having a cloud-based system that can help employers support workers mental wellbeing is essential, especially since working remotely is likely to become the norm for many. This can help reduce absenteeism in the long run and ensure workers are happy, motivated and productive.”

For more information on absence management software visit www.activabsence.co.uk


[i] https://isma.org.uk/isma-international-stress-awareness-week

[ii] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/bulletins/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritain/23october2020#impact-on-life-and-well-being

Author: Editorial Team

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