Fast Three: Childcare in Crisis; Employee Burn-Out Levels Growing; and What’s Not Growing? Gym Use

SANATOGA PA – With the Labor Day weekend (Saturday to Monday, Sept. 5-7, 2020) around the corner, plenty of soothsayers have offered e-mail commentary on how workers are thinking, feeling, and acting during the pandemic. What they say has local, statewide, and national implications, so Thursday’s (Sept. 3) Fast Three is marching to a workplace-centric beat.

Growing concern over future childcare (and not just among parents)

Here’s a statement with which many families of students in the Pottstown, Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford Area, Perkiomen Valley, Upper Perkiomen, and Boyertown Area school districts can readily agree: childcare is nearly impossible to find. It may get worse.

The problem is a cyclical one, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation contends. Parents are trying to balance childcare and work. Childcare providers are trying to stay open, or re-open, with what the foundation calls “an unsustainable business model.” And, employers are trying to determine how and when their working parents can return to work. The data was accompanied by video (above) to support the argument.

In recent surveys of parents, business owners, and child care providers, the foundation found:

  • A majority of parents “feel their provisional childcare arrangement is unsustainable. More than one in five parents are unsure whether they will fully return to work;”
  • “Health and safety (81 percent) and childcare (79 percent) are nearly equivalent concerns for employers as they plan to reopen their offices” or workplaces and;
  • More than half (51 percent) of employers “would be likely to offer additional childcare assistance to employees if the government provides incentives such as tax benefits or subsidies.”

Photo (at top) by Markus Spiske via Unsplash, used under license

Sense of burn-out growing among U.S. workers, consultant says

A poll of the United States’ workforce, completed most recently during mid-August, indicates “a majority of employees (58 percent) are burnt out, up from 45 percent in the early days of COVID-19,” according to Eagle Hill Consulting LLC, which has three offices nationwide. Thirty-five percent attribute the feeling “to COVID-19 circumstances, up from 25 percent in April.”

Asked by Eagle Hill to describe what caused their burnout, respondents reported:

  • 47 percent attribute it to their workload;
  • 39 percent say it’s balancing work and their personal life;
  • 37 percent claim it stems from a lack of communication, feedback, and support;
  • 30 percent point to time pressures and a lack of clarity around expectations; and
  • 28 percent say it’s performance expectations.

Eagle Hill President and CEO Melissa Jezior declared the level of burnout as “problematic,” and claimed it “could increase as millions of employees continue to work from home, and many schools remain unable to fully open.” It’s assumed those polled know burnout when they see it; the pollsters’ report did not include symptoms or definitions.

Running away, really fast, from workouts in the gym

If burned-out workers want to channel their distress into exercise, they’re unlikely to head into a local gym or fitness center to do it, according to RunRepeat, an online retailer of sports-related footwear. Its just-updated “Gyms Re-Opening Study” of more than 10,000 gym membership owners shows that, among Pennsylvania respondents:

  • 47.6 percent have decided against returning to their gyms; and 29.1 percent of Pennsylvanians polled have already canceled or are considering canceling their memberships;
  • Among all those polled, “women were less likely to return to their gyms (52.2 percent) when they re-opened than men (45.7 percent), but
  • Men were more likely to cancel or consider canceling their memberships (37.2 percent) compared to women (32.2 percent).

There’s a flip side. In a separate survey of almost 13,000 participants, RunRepeat learned “people are exercising at a greater frequency (now) than before the pandemic became a global crisis.” One key finding, it said, was that “people who normally exercise 1-2 times a week have increased exercising by 88 percent on average.”

About Fast Three

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The Post doesn’t play with the news, but we do experiment with it.

“Fast Three” is The Post’s effort to keep readers informed and entertained. Our weekdays-only goal is to find three local newsworthy items daily between 11 a.m. and 1:55 p.m. (just shy of three hours), condense them into a fast read of three or fewer paragraphs each, and publish them by 2 p.m.

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