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As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the world infecting millions of people, the stress of contracting the virus combined with continued social distancing and isolation, working from home while caring for family members or assisting school-aged children with remote learning, or a job loss or reduced income, can all lead to burnout. The burden is taking a toll on many people, both physically and mentally. By now, most of us have heard the phrase “Quarantine 15” (think “Freshman 15”), referring to weight gain during the pandemic. Healthcare experts fear this rise in obesity has not only increased the chronic health crisis but is also accompanied by a rise in mental health issues and a decline in overall well-being. In a recent poll conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation, one in three adults in the U.S. has reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic compared to one in ten prior to the pandemic.

Most workers want to do a good job, and their drive to perform at the same level while also dealing with additional stress has many people living in a state of “fight or flight,” exposing them to a higher risk of injury.

What can organizational leaders do?

  • Check in with employees often. Ask questions, actively listen, and be compassionate.
  • Establish flexible work hours and encourage people to take breaks to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Provide proper PPE equipment for people returning to work.
  • Establish a corporate playbook so employees know what to do if a health-risk situation occurs.
  • Provide online training and an equipment list for employees who work from home.

Resources on mental and physical stress in the workplace


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Are we headed for a MSD Tsunami?

We want to hear how you and your employees are dealing with stress in the workplace. Join our certified professional ergonomists for a live, 60-minute webinar, heavy on Q&A, where we’ll cover some of the facts you need to know about physical and mental stress. We’ll take the pulse of you and your colleagues real-time and discuss how companies can shift to a new normal in 2021 while keeping workers safe, engaged, and productive.