The Covid-19 Pandemic Has Introduced New Stressors To Everyday Life

The Lempert Report
January 11, 2022

Today on The Lempert Report we take a look at the latest report from the American Psychological Association which, no surprise, shares that the COVID-19 pandemic has “introduced new stressors to nearly every domain of life”. They write that as the world heads into the 3rd year of the pandemic, these stressors have become persistent and indefinite, heightening everyone’s risk of burnout. According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. What does this mean for the food world? Everything from the farm to those in retail? It indicated even more job changes and an increased pressure on retailers to retain workers – and that means thinking about the people in our industry in many different ways – that goes well beyond  pay raises or increased benefits. But a real understanding of what is important to each person. According to APA’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey of 1,501 U.S. adult workers, 79% of employees had experienced work-related stress in the month before the survey. Nearly 3 in 5 employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26%) and lack of effort at work (19%). Meanwhile, 36% reported cognitive weariness, 32% reported emotional exhaustion, and an astounding 44% reported physical fatigue—a 38% increase since 2019. Because these pandemic-related stressors likely won’t stop anytime soon, APA writes, stress-reducing measures should be top of mind for employers and legislators alike. “As demands increase, organizations need to focus on maintaining balance, taking things off the plate when they add something new.” The APA 2021 Work & Well-being Survey finds that 71% of workers feel stressed out or tense during the workday. Nearly three in five employees (59%) have experienced negative impacts of work-related stress in the past month, including a lack of interest, motivation or energy (26%), difficulty focusing (21%), and a lack of effort at work (19%); and more than one in three front line workers (35%) have felt fed up at work quite frequently or more often in the past 30 days. Hispanic and Black adults are more likely than White adults to say they intend to seek employment outside of their organization in the next year (58% and 57% vs. 37%, respectively). All of these data points lead us to one important conclusion that many food retailers are already – hopefully – focused on – how do we create a more enriching, valued and satisfying career path for our front line workers – who although our industry has said we cherish, still don’t feel the love. There are exceptions – Wegman’s is a stellar example – but there are many others – especially family-owned regional retailers who it is time to learn from.