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Employee Stress Levels Hitting New Highs Due to Coronavirus

Source: MetLife, U.S. Employee Benefit Navigating Together: Trends Study 2020

Sixty-seven percent of employees are experiencing higher levels of stress due to COVID-19 — with work and finances being their biggest concerns. Not surprisingly, a larger proportion of health care workers and women, many of whom have taken on child care and schooling duties in addition to their careers, are reporting heightened stress levels, a study from MetLife reports.

The findings come as employers grapple with providing conducive working environments for employees in these unprecedented conditions. Data from before and during the crisis show that greater support from employers results in more successful employees. Research from 2019 shows that 67% of successful employees reported having the necessary flexibility in work policies to manage work and life.

Understanding employees’ experiences and needs has never been more paramount for organizations. This “new normal” necessitates enhanced employee emotional wellness support and financial wellness initiatives for managing work-life stress. Employers who lead with empathy will have a “more engaged, productive and successful workforce.” 

Is Delta Impacting Americans’ Desire to Get Vaccinated?

Source: YouGov, Yahoo News/YouGov poll, July 13-15, 2021

Americans who are worried about the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus report that they would get a booster shot at a higher rate (70%) than those who are less worried or not at all worried (42%). 

For each group of respondents above, about a quarter report being unsure of their decision to get a booster shot, reflecting some of the public’s continued lack of confidence in the vaccine’s safety or necessity. Fifty-five percent of those who are unvaccinated report that FDA approval of the vaccine would not change their mind about opting out of vaccination, and 73% say that Delta has no impact on their decision, either. 

“Public-health authorities have not recommended third ’booster’ vaccine shots yet,” says YouGov. However, some countries are already offering them, which has been a controversial decision, as many people still have yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine. “Pfizer says it will seek emergency use authorization from the FDA for a booster next month.”

A Healthy Diet Is Out of Reach for 3 Billion People

Source: Food Prices for Nutrition project, Tufts University; Map: The Conversation

Three billion people couldn’t afford to purchase the cheapest healthy foods before the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest available data from 2017 shows that around 40% of the global population resorts to poor-quality diets due to high food prices and low incomes.

Many healthy foods are consistently more expensive than starchy products, oil and sugar. Most of the world’s poorest countries — like in Africa and South Asia — cannot afford ingredients for healthy meals even if they spend their entire income on food. Meanwhile, the 60% of the global population that can  afford these healthy ingredients don’t always choose to — either because they want to avoid longer cooking times, or they are drawn to unhealthy foods through advertising and marketing tactics.

Global food prices reached a 10-year high during the pandemic, but prices started to decline in June — still 25% more expensive than the 2014-2016 average. Governments and NGOs are working to make food more accessible through technological advancements in agriculture, safety net and educational programs and more higher-paying jobs. 

Most Countries Doubt Future Generations’ Earning Potential

Source: Pew Research Center

Majority of the public in 17 countries surveyed believe that their children will be in a worse financial situation than their generation. A median 32% of those surveyed by Pew Research Center disagree. 

Respondents who have a poorer view of how the pandemic was handled by their government, or who had their own life affected by COVID-19, are more likely to have a negative view on their children’s future. France and Japan have the highest percentages of those who believe their children will be financially worse off at 77%, while the public in Singapore and Sweden are more positive about their kids’ prospects. 

A 2020 study found that the loss of early childhood development could majorly damage income potential and productivity over the younger generation’s lifetime. Education-related funding is predicted to increase this year as schools ensure that sanitary supplies are present to properly enforce in-person, COVID-safety standards and eliminate further school closures.

Electricity Demand Could Drive Record CO2 Emissions

Source: International Energy Agency

Carbon emissions produced by the energy sector will grow by 3.5% this year and by 2.5% in 2022, taking emissions to record levels. Almost half of this increase in electricity demand will come from fossil fuels that could push carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector to record levels in the next two years. 

Coal is expected to increase by almost 5% this year and an additional 3% in 2022, according to the IEA. Although renewable energy is expected to grow by 8% this year and 6% in 2022, IEA states that, “renewables will only be able to meet around half the projected increase in global electricity demand over those two years.”

In 2020, electricity demand fell by 1% due to less social and economic activity and extreme weather-related outages. Electricity demand is expected to rise by 5% this year and 4% in 2022, driven in part by global economic recovery. To improve the energy sector’s resilience, IEA states that “power systems need not only to maintain system adequacy but also to be flexible enough to balance supply and demand at all times.”

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