The overall health of a workforce involves the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the employees. Treating their mental health as a psychological component and relating it to their physical environment can significantly affect employee morale and productivity. Otherwise, employers that fail to address the mental health issue of their employees will not only affect the person themselves but as well as business performance and corporate profits.
The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 has taken a toll on worker’s mental health. In a global study conducted by Qualtrics, 41.6% of employees experience a decline in their mental health since the pandemic. The transition from the office to the work-from-home setup has even made it difficult for employees to adjust to the “new normal”, allowing them to experience extreme fatigue and chronic sadness.
Before the pandemic, employers have been adopting initiatives to protect the mental health of their workers. Even experienced ambulance co responders and crisis intervention teams are taking part in ensuring the safety of professionals, private individuals, and communities in addressing their mental health needs in times of behavioral health crisis.
In times of uncertainty, employees are more prone to mental health challenges, which can negatively affect the overall performance and productivity of a business. To prevent mental health issues in remote working, here are ways to support employees’ mental health needs.
Conduct regular check-ins
Employees want to feel appreciated and treated well, whether in or outside the office. Even the presence of their co-workers serves as their support system, especially during tough times. But if employees have to work at home, loneliness can take a toll on their mental health.
Performing regular check-ins can make a big difference in building a supportive culture in the workplace, even if employees are in a remote location. This is especially critical at a time when employees have to work outside the office and managers can’t check their employees personally if they’re going through a difficult time.
Intentionally checking employees is something managers often disregard even before the pandemic. They can easily monitor their employees during meetings or during personal interactions. But since people have to work at home, managers won’t spot the signs if the employee is struggling behind their computer screens.
According to Qualtrix, 38.2% of employees reported that their company didn’t bother to ask if they’re doing okay and 41% want their manager to directly ask them about their mental health. This shows that managers should proactively manage mental health crises in the workplace. Instead of just asking how employees are, ask specific questions and give them the freedom to speak without any judgment.
Be honest about vulnerabilities
The pandemic has opened opportunities to normalize and raise awareness about mental health issues. Almost everyone was negatively affected by the pandemic and each one is dealing with their own battles.
The widespread effects of the pandemic can decrease the stigma of mental health only if leaders and managers will share their struggles and personal experiences. A leader who’s being honest and open about their mental health struggles will open doors for workers to be more comfortable when sharing their personal struggles with other people.
Remote working has left us with no choice but to expose our personal life through video meetings, whether it’s about our unkempt home or kids crashing in the middle of a meeting. When managers are more open about their personal struggles, it allows them to appear relatable, brave, and more human. This will cultivate trust among employees by encouraging them to express their vulnerabilities. Allowing them to be transparent will eventually affect their performance and engagement.
Encourage inclusive flexibility
Adopting a new work setup involves major adjustments in the workplace. Checking in with employees will help managers offer possible solutions if they have a context about the employees’ situation. These conversations will serve as an opportunity to establish connections and support employees’ mental health. This approach is called inclusive flexibility that promotes norm-setting and proactive communication while allowing people to preserve and design their required boundaries.
Managers have a habit of setting unrealistic deadlines for the submission of outputs or reports. Keep in mind that remote working involves plenty of adjustments that require a few changes in how you do things at work. One example is juggling home life with work responsibilities. The best thing you can do is to offer flexibility and be as realistic and generous as possible with deadlines. This will help your team survive while accommodating their needs amid the uncertainty of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 may have caused mental health concerns in the workplace, but employers can equip themselves with the right tools to help their employees. Follow our suggestions above to get you started on your mental health efforts in the workplace. While you may not have all the answers and solutions to employees’ woes, a listening ear can go a long way by making them feel appreciated and heard.