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From Health Concerns to Job Woes, How COVID-19 Variants Impact Employees

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As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, new variants have become time markers, shaping the way we live for months at a time. For those working at small businesses and medium-sized ones, the consequences can play out in myriad ways, which a new survey from Paychex explores.

Paychex provides integrated human capital management solutions for industries from human resources and payroll to benefits and insurance services. Here’s what its survey found.

New variants bring health and job concerns

Americans’ top concerns related to coronavirus variants are bringing home COVID-19 to their friends and family members (43%) and getting sick at work (39%). And 27% are worried about being uncertain about quarantine and safety guidelines, as well as potentially losing their job.

And while about half of Americans (49%) say COVID-19 variants aren’t impacting their overall sense of well-being, it’s clear that worker sentiment is an important factor for businesses to consider as they look at ways to support their employees. Addressing job concerns may require businesses to find a way to put more funds toward employee retention, such as business loans.

Some of the most common ways workers feel their job status will be impacted are working fewer hours (42%) and losing their job (33%). So it makes sense that more than a quarter of Americans believe they’ll have to look for a new job.

Age and child status shape variant concern

Most Americans don’t think the coronavirus variants will impact their job status. But that isn’t true across the board.

In fact, younger workers tend to feel more uncertain about their job status than their older counterparts. For example, 40% of Gen Zers (ages 18 to 24) say they’re concerned about losing their job, compared with just 15% of baby boomers (ages 57 to 75). Gen Zers and millennials (ages 25 to 40) are more likely than older generations to say they might look for an additional job or a new one because of COVID-19 variant concerns.

Parents who have children at home are also strongly impacted by new variants. For instance, 39% of parents with children at home who both work say COVID-19 variants will affect their employment status, compared with 20% of those without children.

The impact of potential variants plays out in unique ways for single parents, too. For example, compared to dual-parent households, single working parents are more likely to be worried about:

  • Bringing home COVID-19 to their family (53%)
  • Losing their job (40%)
  • Being uncertain about vaccines and booster mandates (33%)
  • Having their children move to remote learning (25%)
  • Being required by their employer to come back to the office too soon (22%)

As employers work toward adapting to the ever-changing guidelines surrounding the pandemic, it’s also important for them to recognize the strain that it puts on their workers, particularly those who may feel they’re in a more precarious situation.

Methodology: Paychex conducted an online survey of 601 full-time employees at small to midsize businesses in the U.S. from Jan. 20-28, 2022. The survey defined generations as follows:

  • Gen Zers (ages 18 to 24)
  • Millennials (ages 25 to 40)
  • Gen Xers (ages 41 to 56)
  • Baby boomers (ages 57 to 75)

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