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Workers Feel Worse When Thinking About State of Their Country

Pessimism about their country is at the core of workers’ “circles of fear,” according to a new meQuilibrium workforce well-being study which finds that three-quarters (75.1%) of respondents report feeling worse when they think about the state of their country.  

There is a notable difference between U.S. employees and non-U.S. employees, with eight in 10 (79.2%) of respondents in the U.S. feeling worse when they think about the state of their country, compared to about half (55.1%) of their non-U.S. counterparts. Half of all U.S.-based workers (51.6%) expect the situation with their country to get worse over the coming months, compared with a third (33.8%) of non-U.S. workers.  

Other stressors impacting employees include money (45.8%), work (38.7%), and relationships (27.5%). Technology and communications sectors are among the hardest hit by job stress, surging by 91% and 83% year over year, respectively. Another hard-hit group is Gen Z workers under 30, with nearly half (48%) reporting job stress compared with their older peers (32%).  

“Uncertainty, pessimism, and stress still loom large in the workplace,” says Brad Smith, chief science officer at meQuilibrium. “It’s essential that employers have access to data that predict risks and identify trends to stay appraised of mounting vulnerabilities within employee populations. Armed with information about these ‘circles of fear,’ HR can better provide needed support and encourage empathetic leadership.”  

Retention challenges continue amid a tight labor market. Almost a quarter (23%) of younger workers report being highly likely to switch jobs in the next six months, compared to just 13% of older employees. Understanding the factors behind costly turnover is important in addressing it. Mental demands (34.6%), compensation (32.9%0, and opportunity for growth (31.4%) are the top turnover triggers.  

Another challenge facing employers is diminished productivity. The survey sheds light on the factors which drive and diminish productivity. Three clear productivity boosters emerged: autonomy, supportive coworkers, and trusted managers. The biggest productivity killer by far was interruptions, followed by events in the news, and non-work responsibilities like eldercare, family, and household chores.  

No matter the challenge — turnover, diminished productivity, pessimism, or stress — resilience is the key to protecting employee well-being. Resilient employees consistently carry a more positive outlook and are consistently less likely to have a pessimistic outlook about their relationships (78%), work situation (57%), financial situation (57%), and state of their country (12%).  

The study finds that highly resilient individuals are substantially less likely to cite certain factors as churn risks, including mental demands of the job (64% less likely), compensation (40% less likely), sense of purpose (54% less likely), work-life balance (67% less likely), and long working hours (58% less likely).  

In addition, the study identifies manager support for mental well-being as among the strongest deterrents of turnover intent. Manager support slashes turnover risk in half, on average, by reducing susceptibility to key exit drivers like burnout and disconnection between work and life purpose.  

“Managers have substantial influence on employee well-being,” says Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium. “Proactive efforts to train supportive managers and build resilience could pay dividends in shoring up retention and improving productivity.”  

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