Number of the Day: election employee stress

15%: Percentage that employee stress rose above the daily average on Nov. 4, the day after the presidential election

In the days and weeks leading up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, employers knew that their workforces were going to be stressed and distracted. And, according to new research from meQuilibrium, that prediction panned out.

Using its Mood Coach tracking tool to gauge sentiment of more than 1,300 meQuilibrium users across 60 countries, the organization found that Nov. 4, the day after the election, was the most stressful day of 2020. In fact, employee stress was 15% higher that day than the daily average.

That number tracks with other recent data, such as from Voya, which found that more than one-third of Americans are feeling uncertain about the country’s future in the wake of the election, while more than one-quarter report being worried.

See also: Post-election challenge-Helping employees cope with stress

Employers, undoubtedly, have a role to play in quelling those sentiments; however, a study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity recently found that nearly 60% of employers surveyed had no plan, or didn’t know of one, to communicate with employees after the presidential election.

What it means for HR leaders

This year has proven perilous for employees’ stress levels. Overall, meQuilibrium found that levels of extreme stress have risen 33% since December 2019—due to COVID-19, social unrest and election stress, says Andrew Shatté, chief knowledge officer and co-founder. Before the day after the election, the record holder for most stressful day was March 20, as pandemic numbers soared, prompting lockdowns and widespread economic uncertainty.

All indications are that stress, burnout, depression and anxiety will continue to rise, Shatté says.

“And now,” he adds, “we’re entering into the holiday period—a hotbed of stress at the best of times.”

While the dynamics of the holiday season and the ongoing pandemic are largely out of the control of employers, there are steps they can take to reduce their impacts on their employees. meQuilibrium research has shown that, when employees feel supported by their organization, Shatté notes, levels of extreme stress drop from 33% to 3%.

“HR leaders need to create a culture of resilience,” he says, “which includes aligning values, showing empathy, boosting positivity and connecting their people to a sense of meaning, mission and purpose.”

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