A new report on employee well-being reveals some troubling, if not completely surprising, results: Last year, workers around the world were more stressed out than ever before.
Employed people in the U.S. and Canada had the highest levels of stress of any region, with 57 percent surveyed in 2020 saying they experienced stress "a lot of" the previous day, according to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace 2021 report, released Tuesday. That was an increase of eight percentage points from 2019.
Jim Harter, Gallup's chief scientist of workplace management and well-being and co-author of Wellbeing at Work, a book on how organizations can build resilient teams, says there is a playbook for managers to improve the situation.
CEOs can't engage with every employee on what they need to thrive at work, Harter says, but you can empower your managers to do so since "they're in the best position to understand the situation of each person and make the right kind of accommodations."
Harter's top recommendation: Employees should have a "meaningful" conversation with their manager every week. Then, managers can provide everything from career development to workload adjustment so people don't feel as overwhelmed and out of control--especially during challenging times.
Last year, helping people feel in control became particularly important, Harter adds. Globally, workers felt more anger, sadness, and worry during 2020, according to the Gallup report. In the U.S. and Canada, 22 percent of employees reported feeling angry during "a lot of" the prior day, up seven percent percentage points from 2019.
With all the changes to the workplace in 2020 and the resulting impact on people's lives, "there is a lot of anger there in general, and it will get directed toward work," says Melissa Whitson, associate professor of psychology at the University of New Haven. Employers' top priority should be a measured return to normal, she says.