How to Support Your Remote Employees’ Mental Health
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half of American employees say they’ve had a mental illness.
Another study also found additional mental health concerns with a 50% rise in depression and a 60% drop in focus in the workplace. While many workers were stressed over the pandemic, this is also when many employees started working remotely as well.
While working remotely has excellent mental health benefits, it can be isolating for some employees and make it difficult for connections. However, you can remedy this with a few key initiatives and policies.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to learn how to support your remote employees’ mental health, so make sure you keep reading.
Offer a Break
As the pandemic winds down and life goes back to normal, your employees might feel overwhelmed. They might feel like they had just run a marathon to get through the pandemic, and now that it’s over, they might need a break to recover.
You can offer several company-wide mental health days that you can pay for employees. For example, LinkedIn gave their full-time employees one week off in April to help them recharge and reduce the chance of burnout. Many other companies followed suit. For example, Google gave one mental health day for employees, but the right number of days for your company will depend on what your projects and budgets can afford.
These can promote mental well being for your remote workers. When an employee’s mental health condition is better, you’re less likely to have employees who have physical health problems. While you might feel like you’re losing productivity, it can improve productivity in the long run. If your employees feel burnt out, they’re less likely to be productive.
Focus on Training
To successfully implement mental health initiatives, business leaders need to make an effort to prioritize employee mental health care. With such a stigma attached to mental illness, managers and leaders can find it challenging to know how to talk with their employees about these sensitive topics.
You can start breaking down that stigma by offering training sessions that provide educational and practical tips. This is an excellent option for a remote team as these webinars or training sessions can be hosted virtually, and you can show them that you’re taking this seriously. If there is a mental health professional that you would like to showcase, host a Zoom conference call with the team members.
Mental health training can help you cover many different topics, like how to prevent burnout and stress. It can also teach you how to communicate and approach these topics effectively.
Remember that the primary goal of these training sessions is to start a conversation about mental health and normalize talking about it in the workplace. You’ll also be able to provide resources for the team to create a safe working environment.
Create an Asynchronous Schedule
With remote work, you have the option to offer an asynchronous schedule, so people don’t have to feel tied to their email or Slack. Feeling tied to their desk can cause burnout because humans weren’t designed to have hundreds of people demanding their time all at once.
You can create a calmer company culture by using a few tools that will help you set up an asynchronous workflow. This can help reduce meeting times and make more time for focused work. For example, you can use GitLab, but Slack is also an excellent tool as you can schedule when to send messages out to your employees.
When your employees feel free to take a walk or go to a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the workday, they’re much more likely to have a better work-life balance. They can also feel like they can take time to focus on a project rather than pausing to answer every IM or email in order to prove that they’re working.
Offer a Good Work-Life Balance
Having an asynchronous schedule is a great way to promote work-life balance, but you’ll also want to use other strategies to encourage a good balance.
For example, it can be difficult for remote employees to separate work from their home life when they are working at home. However, you can give them flexible schedules or provide them with a stipend to set up an office separate from the rest of their home.
According to some research, 55% of Americans don’t use all of their PTO. You can also ensure that your employees are using their time off. They shouldn’t feel like they can never get away from work and unplug. Instead, encourage them to take time off so that they’re more happy and productive when they return.
According to a Gallup survey, 21% of remote employees said that loneliness was one of the biggest struggles they faced when working remotely. Now that employees don’t have to leave the house to go to the office, they may not interact with anyone for a few days. Even if they’re living with someone, they can feel isolated.
You can help your remote employees stay connected by using tools like Zoom and Slack. This can make it easier for teams to collaborate even if they’re not in the same physical area.
Video calls can’t be a genuine replacement for an in-person meeting, but they can be an added benefit. They’re great for discussing issues, building team spirit, and brainstorming ideas that you wouldn’t be able to do through emails.
It would be best to encourage remote workers to talk with each other over issues that aren’t related to work. This can help substitute for lunchroom and water cooler conversations. These conversations are often crucial for employees to bond in a remote environment. These interactions might feel more forced than they would in the office, but they can help your employees’ mental health.
Focus on Managers As Well
When you’re focusing on your employees, ensure that you pay attention to your managers and leaders. If they aren’t taken care of, it’ll be hard for them to take care of their teams. It would be best if you were doing things at your business that will promote a healthy lifestyle, combatting stress, and avoid any burnout while they’re trying to manage remote teams.
Start Prioritizing Remote Employees’ Mental Health Today
These are only a few ways to support your remote team members’ mental health, but there are many more things you can try.
We know that this can be a challenging topic to work with, but there are many other challenges that you’ll have to go through as a business owner. Thankfully, as the team at Recruiter.com is also remote, we’re an expert in remote working and HR professionals, and we offer plenty of resources that can help you.
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