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Xero survey reveals COVID-19-related stress found to be more damaging to employee mental health than the political climate

DENVER, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Xero, the global small business platform, today announced the results of its survey, “2020: A Wake-Up Call for Employee Mental Health,” examining mental health and wellness in the (now mostly virtual) workplace.

The survey of approximately 1,000 U.S. adults employed full- or part-time showed that COVID-19-related stress has been more damaging to employee mental health (56%) than the political climate, personal finance troubles and workload/workplace culture. In fact, the only issue rated more damaging was the death of a family member or loved one.

African-American employees are much more likely (41%) than their white counterparts (30%) to see the pandemic as having an extremely negative impact.

Aligning employer support with employee needs

While many employers have taken additional steps to address mental health as a result of the pandemic, it’s clear that employee needs and employer provisions have yet to align.

The survey found a clear gap, with 69% saying employers should be extremely/very concerned about mental health, and only 46% saying employers are extremely/very concerned.

Further, one in four say their employer has no offering at all to support employee mental wellbeing – which encompasses more than mental health alone, and dives into one’s awareness of emotions and ability to manage such feelings.

“Considering the year we’ve all had, it’s increasingly important for employers to address fatigue, burnout and mental wellness – both inside and outside the workplace – on a continual basis,” said Tony Ward, President, Americas at Xero. “One of the many issues exacerbated by COVID-19 is just how intertwined work and personal lives are, and corporate initiatives and policies should be a reflection of that.”

Among employees who are offered special programs, lack of need, rather than quality or stigma, appear to be the dominant reason why they do not make use of the programs.

41% have taken advantage of at least one program, and among those who have not, most say it’s due to not needing it (38%) rather than wanting a better program (13%) or because of a sense of stigma (6%).

Females (61%) were more likely than males (52%) to not take advantage of employer support for employee wellbeing.

Prioritizing mental health above the bottom line

Employees, particularly during this time, view corporate support of mental health as a make-or-break item.

Eighty seven percent of respondents noted that the best employers put mental health above all else, including the bottom line. The survey also highlights that small business employees are more likely (52%) to say their employer is extremely/very concerned about their mental health than those at larger businesses (45%).

While Gen Z, millennials and Gen X generally agreed that good employee mental health programs foster better corporate culture and business outcomes, 11% of Baby Boomers disagreed.

Xero and Shift Collab to offer mental wellness sessions

In response to the growing need for support, Xero has teamed with Shift Collab to offer a series of mental wellbeing sessions for its employees, as well as for its accounting and bookkeeping partners, and small business clients starting in January 2021.

Unlike many other mental health workshops, Shift Collab specializes in offering training that blends clinical excellence with management best practices, making each session empowering and immediately useful to attendees. Topics are focused on underlying challenges that have been exacerbated during COVID-19, including managing overwhelm, challenging imposter syndrome, letting go of perfectionism, and supporting employees in difficult times. Shift Collab will offer these sessions to Xero’s partners and small business customers to help them care for their own mental health and wellbeing.

“The vast majority of employers want to do more to improve employee mental health— but they don’t know where to start,” said Jordan Axani, Co-Founder of Shift Collab. “Traditional management practices haven’t kept up with rising openness among employees and leaders alike, especially during COVID-19. In this partnership with Xero, we’re aiming to help small business owners and employees develop confidence to improve their team’s mental health from within.”

Xero is committed to the mental health and wellbeing of its employees. In 2019 the company repositioned sick leave as ‘wellbeing leave’ to encourage employees to take time off not only for physical illnesses, but also for their own mental and emotional wellbeing. This year in the U.S., Xero doubled the number of wellbeing days for its employees. Find out more here.

Survey Methodology

This CARAVAN survey was conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS among a sample of 983 adults 18 years of age and older who are employed full or part time. The online omnibus study is conducted three times a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older.  This survey was live on November 18-22, 2020.

About Xero

Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses with 2.45 million subscribers globally. Through Xero, small business owners and their advisors have access to real-time financial data any time, anywhere and on any device. Xero offers an ecosystem of over 800 third-party apps and 200 plus connections to banks and other financial partners. In 2020, Xero was included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index and recognised by IDC MarketScape as a leader in its worldwide SaaS and cloud-enabled small business finance and accounting applications vendor assessment.

About Shift Collab

Shift is a collaborative therapy practice and mental health education company with one simple focus: to make mental health relatable for ambitious leaders. Since 2016, we have grown from a small therapy practice to a team of nearly 75 mental health professionals. Each year we provide therapy to thousands of highly-driven professionals and lead hundreds of trainings across North America, including top brands such as Shopify, LinkedIn, Broad Institute, North, Maple, TextNow, Tulip, Rover, and many more.


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