The coronavirus is presenting new challenges and we are moving in our life with this virus. This is affecting every level of our society, including mental well-being. Companies are changing their process overnight and they are looking for remote hiring as a way to hire new employees. This approach is successful as they are following top remote interview techniques.
All is fine until the routine of remote employees is disturbed that leads to stress, anxiety & mental strain. This is because many of us are not adapted to working remotely.
As an employer, it’s your duty to take care of your employees. Mental health is a serious topic and there have been many cases where an employee gets distracted from work and it hampers their career growth and in short their health.
How Can Remote Working Impact an Employee’s Mental Well-Being?
Remote working can have an impact on employees:
- Isolation — When an employee is separated from their colleagues they can start to feel isolated. And in particular, extroverted personalities suffer from this as they are used to gain energy from those around them. These employees may suffer from these feelings if they are not supported in the right way. And feelings of isolation can increase stress levels and bring a sense of disengagement to both the employee and the company.
- Burnout — When working remotely, it can be easy for work to fit in personal time. Remote employees can work longer hours and feel that they do work more because they are not in the office. This work-life balance can lead to high-stress levels that lead to burnout if left unresolved.
- The pressure to work 24/7 — The work pressure is so much, you need to squeeze in the work whenever you can. This can lead to donning multiple hats requiring time management. Switching many roles at once can wear out anyone and during remote working one has to stay alert all the time.
Why Is It Important to Look for Staff Mental Well-Being?
According to the research, it shows a happy workforce increases performance and productivity in an organization. Employees who are mentally healthy are engaged and committed to their jobs. As an organization, you need to ensure everyone’s contact details are up to date, make sure that employees understand their sick leaves. If they don’t then share all the necessary details with them because an employee should be clear about the leave policies.
It’s important more than ever to take care of mental health as we are keeping ourselves safe from coronavirus. But it doesn’t mean social isolation. One has to know the difference between an employee working with 100% productivity and an employee working the same in great mental health.
There are some practices companies can implement with their employees. Some of the tips can seem unusual or maybe unnecessary during normal times. Employees at companies are experiencing fear depending upon where they reside.
Here’s a guide to supporting remote employee mental health.
13 Effective Ways to Support Your Employees’ Mental Well-Being
1. Staying Connected With the Technology
Many remote employees complain of loneliness as their biggest struggle when working from home. Without the need to leave your house for work and with no interaction with other employees for days, weeks, or even months. Working remotely can make the employees feel left out.
As a recruitment company, you can support the mental well-being of remote employees by making them stay connected. There are platforms like zoom, slack makes it easier to stay connected with other employees even if they are far apart. Remote workers should rely on video calls that are helpful for sessions and to build the team spirit. You should encourage employees to communicate not for work-related reasons but for socializing too.
2. Motivate Work/Life Balance
For many remote employees, work-life balance improves when they begin working from home. The positives are they don’t have to spend time on commuting and use flexible hours to change their work schedule accordingly.
Working remotely has its share of mental stress. Employees when working from home have access to the office 24/7. Remote workers are not able to unplug and can affect their mental well-being, working late into the night. Remote work doesn’t only disrupt our routines, it has an effect over the coping mechanisms. Remote work also disrupts our relationships. You don’t want them to get the work done but their presence makes us better.
They may work for a long duration, which can disturb their sleep patterns.
A company can help to achieve work/life balance by:
- Set working hours for each day
- Setting up a specific area at home and dedicatedly working in that space only
- Taking breaks during your work hours
- Say no to extra work requests that stretch
- Take proper sleep
3. Asking Employees to Have a Specific Home Office
Without a fixed working space can result in loss of productivity. This results in working for more hours to complete the same task. In the end, you’ll end up working for the whole day. If they don’t have one, ask them to fix a place.
When managing their work from a fixed place, they’ll see an increase in productivity. But when they don’t have a fixed place, managing work can be a bit difficult. The place should have no distraction and there should be proper light, ample space and most of all the internet connectivity should be proper.
4. Encourage Good Work
When employees are working remotely, they are basically disconnected. They don’t also get proper feedback and struggle to judge their performance in their team. Working from home can make the employee feel confused and out of their group.
To combat this problem, you should recognize and reward any good work done by the employees. Offering incentives is another way to encourage employees. To increase employee engagement, ask your managers to provide regular feedback to remote employees and share the success with the complete team.
Here are other things to consider things rather than monetary rewards:
- New laptop, monitor, headphones
- Extra time paid off
- Gift cards
5. Encourage Online Training
This is a good time to encourage your employees during remote work. This is possible with online training and it acts as a distraction to focus on learning rather than taking any stress. A company should find relevant online training programs for employees. This provides new opportunities for remote workers to upgrade their skills, get motivated, and stay relevant while working remotely.
6. Making Sure Remote Workers Are Physically Active
According to research physical exercise increases the mood and relieves stress. A company has to ensure that all employees must stay active i.e. beneficial for their physical and mental well-being.
Exercise can give a sense of satisfaction between work and personal time. The difficult task for the employer is to ask employees to keep them active and ask them to take breaks during office hours. You can also try to start physical activities on a certain day during a week.
At the end of the month, you can reward the winner. You can promote physical and mental well-being by asking them to log their physical activities and the employee with the most physical activity will get a fitness tracker or a gift card.
7. Be Open for Communication
The best way to care for the employee’s mental well-being is to support an open communication culture. This can be applied to work communications but also with personal communications. Let your employees know that they can talk freely with their manager or with HR.
The managers should be good listeners and they should know about employee’s habits, so they can know about any strange behavior. Your existing employees also play a crucial role. They need to be compassionate and help a co-worker. You can follow this idea even on video calls, by creating a specific channel, where an employee can easily share his views with the right person.
8. Encourage Employees to Take Leaves
Remote employees don’t feel the need to take leaves as they are working from their home & have flexibility. But everyone needs to take a break from work, for 1-2 days. Employees have two options to take paid or unpaid leaves.
Don’t force them to take paid leaves. Take leaves from work and show them that rest is necessary even while working from home. Be a source of inspiration and tell them that work is important but being flexible is also needed. The organization can explain the whole procedure for employees.
9. Plan In-Person Meetings/Events
No matter the number of video meetings you do, seeing your employees in person is a different ball game. Employees who work from home miss out on that, it can deepen feelings of loneliness. If it’s possible, plan meetings or events where employees can meet in person.
You can go for monthly team meetings, fun outings, parties are perfect for remote employees to socialize with their co-workers. If your entire staff is remote, you can hold meetups. Connect employees who live in the same city and ask them to attend an event. Or plan an outing for the entire staff at a resort.
10. Don’t Expect Your Employees to Be Super-Productive
Yes, we understand that your business might be facing problems excepting more work from their employees. At this time, it’s not realistic to maintain such workload from employees. Employees are anxious and find it difficult to concentrate on their work, telling them that they are not sufficient enough will make things worse.
The whole idea is to give your employees time to adjust to remote working. When there is no pressure, they’ll rise to the occasion. And also don’t ask your employees to be super-alert and reply to every mail message instantly. They could be busy and they can’t stay online for 9 hours straight. This will create stress of being ‘online’ all the time.
11. Don’t Deduct Salaries or Fire Them
This point is in continuation with the above point, deducting salaries can also impact the mental well-being of an employee. During the Covid-19 situation, it would be an injustice to deduct any salaries. Due to this, an employee might not be able to balance their expenses. The worst thing is to fire any employee. Firing any employee during this time can lead to stress. When you fire an employee knowing there aren’t enough jobs available is morally incorrect.
12. Send Mental Health Surveys to Employees
There can be instances where employees cannot open up about their mental well-being in a video meeting. Most of the employees find it easier to get evaluated when they are sent a survey.
Encourage employees to be honest when answering the survey. You can include questions like:
- How do you deal with stress during remote work?
- On a scale of 1-10, what is your stress level?
The surveys will help you to get a better understanding of your staff’s mental health but with this data, you can take preventive measures. If an employee is suffering from depression, you can intervene before things get nasty. The companies that are offering recruitment services take care of health surveys of candidates during the hiring process.
13. Sharing Mental Health Resources With Employees
When an employee is suffering from a mental health problem, they don’t know where to look out for the resources. This is true for remote employees who don’t get to attend office sessions.
You can support the mental health of remote workers, you can share the list of resources where employees can access it. Sharing these resources is possible on basecamp which is a communication tool. These resources can include educational resources, videos about mental health. Additionally, you can offer a health advocacy program for your remote employees.
Supporting mental well-being is key in the workplace. Most of the companies want to focus on mental health but due to lack of time, it’s down in the priority list.
You can create a strategy and include it in your company’s culture. Let your employees know that you understand their situation and you will do your best to accommodate it.