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With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the fundamental daily routine and working styles, employees and employers are facing new sets of challenges, time and again.

A report by  Littler Workplace Policy Institute rightly said that 2020 is like no other year for the employees, in regard to their employment factors. All thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Right from the recent layoffs, to job security, income loss, family care obligations, and other multiple living factors, the pandemic has stressed many employees, affecting their health and wellness. On the other hand, businesses have been impacted by the global economic recession. To add to the employer’s woes, poor employee health and wellness means higher healthcare costs, lower productivity, and overall business loss.

Studies reveal that with the damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak, it would take quite some time for employees and employers to get back on track to what was before the pandemic hit, and the challenges will continue for long. Also, its impact on employee mental health and workplace culture has become a major challenge for employees and employers.

Changes In Employment Rates

According to the report, 2020 saw the highest drop in employment numbers since 1939, when the US started tracking their employment data. While the private sector alone accounted for 96% of the overall job loss, millions of US employees faced pay cut or working shift cuts.

While the extent of the loss was based on many factors like – the severity of virus infection in the states and locality, effective public health measures, industry sector, employment size, etc., it was evident that the larger economies were more affected than the smaller states. However, the statistics could change as the severity of infection spreads in the smaller states too.

Although no sector was left unaffected by the pandemic, the retail businesses and hospitality sector had to face devastating challenges.

While the hotel and restaurants (food services) sector saw a 2,500% increase in unemployment rates in June 2020, compared to June 2019 numbers, the retail industry saw a 1,350% increase, health care industry more than 1,000% increase, and the manufacturing sector had 750% increase in their unemployment rates.

Employee and Workplace Changes

While many were facing job loss issues, the employees who still had their jobs at hand had their own challenges. A government survey showed that due to the pandemic, almost 31% of the US employees started working remotely, and this number came down to 26% in July 2020, when businesses started to reopen.

Employers had to make certain changes to their working policies when the pandemic hit first. Right from remote working policies to using digital technology for employee engagement and ensuring employee health and wellness, employers had to amend their working policies. With businesses reopening, employers are facing new challenges by being forced to make changes again to their workplaces, onsite working policies, and measures to assure employee safety.

Many employers have started implementing corporate wellness programs for better employee health and wellness, along with higher engagement, productivity, and workplace wellness. While the focus is to boost employee health, especially mental wellness as the pandemic has stressed many, employers are also taking steps to educate employees about their financial wellbeing, workplace engagement, and holistic wellness. Many employers also started offering digital health solutions to their workforce to make sure they are hale and healthy.

Measures for the Uncertain Times

The US government has taken steps to help employees during this financial crisis by offering aid with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. With a 3-year expiration window, the CARES Act provides $1,200 for individual filers, $2,400 for joint accounts, and $500 for every eligible child. Although it could be a short-term relief from the financial crisis, this might not help for long-term support.

More than 200 employment-related bills and regulations have been passed in response to the COVID-19 effects on businesses. These regulations address many crucial pointers like – workplace closures, employee health screenings, back-to-workplace protocols, and more to ensure better employee wellbeing and workplace wellness.

Apart from offering the corporate wellness programs, digital health solutions, and other preventive measures to ensure employee health and wellness. Employers can take employee engagement surveys to know what employees are going through, and what they need to overcome their concerns by addressing their issues with the right solutions. With personalized communication to know employee interests and demands, employers can build a loyal and appreciative workforce, contributing to workplace wellness and better organizational productivity.

Post Author: Admin