How to Care for the Mental Health of Remote Employees
Looking after the mental health of remote employees is of paramount importance as the professional world adapts to virtual work. And in this guest article from Gemma Hart, you’ll learn tactics to ensure you’re giving it the attention it deserves.
The abrupt closure of workplaces and offices since the pandemic outbreak has introduced a new way of working.
Since 2020, 1 in 4 people now work remotely in America and this is only expected to increase in the future. However, while there are many benefits of remote working, employee mental health is suffering. In fact, according to Forbes, 45% of people admit their mental health has suffered since working from home.
In this article, we will be sharing how you can care for the mental health of your remote employees. Whether your company will return to office working or not, these tips will help ensure everyone stays mentally healthy while working remotely.
Encourage Time Off for Remote Employees
Americans typically leave 768 million vacation days on the table at the end of the year and that number is only expected to grow as remote working increases.
Neglecting to take time off work to rest, relax, and seek support is having a detrimental effect on employee mental health. And given that remote employees are far more likely to keep working despite saying they’re taking time off, it is more important than ever to encourage personal time away from the “office.”
Managers must set an example as employees often feel like they can’t take time off if their managers are always working 80-hour weeks. So, to support the mental health of your employees and to encourage more time off work, you should set an example by booking some annual leave and taking a holiday. Do that, and your employees will follow.
Maintain a Good Work/Life Balance
Working from home, it is easier than ever before to work longer hours, not switch off from your to-do list, and work on projects ‘out of hours’.
Neglecting to take time away from the screen and properly switch off from work can be detrimental to your mental health. Prioritizing a healthy work/life balance is essential for maintaining your mental health and wellness.
If you find yourself easily distracted with work tasks, regularly working overtime, and forgetting to take breaks, why not put a reminder in your diary to finish work at specific times and practice self-compassion?
Taking time for yourself will increase emotional well-being, reduce stress levels, and encourage positive mental and physical health.
Sometimes scheduling breaks is the best thing to do if you want to maintain a good work/life balance. Once you have perfected the strategies for maintaining a good work/life balance, you can lead by example and encourage your employees to do the same.
You can also check out these work-life balance quotes that help illustrate the importance of finding time for yourself.
Check-in with Employees Regularly
Working remotely can be isolating. Whether your employees are working from busy households, from cafes, or on their own, it’s important to check in with them regularly. Online tools like Google Meet, Slack, and Zoom are all fantastic tools that help you stay in touch with the people you want to.
Just be sure to schedule these check-ins so that your team knows what to expect, rather than being bombarded with meeting requests throughout the day.
Get Team Leaders Involved
Mental health should be treated just as seriously as physical health, and that message needs to come from the top of your company in order for people to feel engaged and supported.
Get team leaders involved in championing mental health causes and supporting employees who are struggling. Educating your team about mental health and the best ways to provide support is one of the most effective strategies for ensuring your team receives the help they need and feel backed.
Communicate Your Company Resources
Sometimes, employees don’t know where to go if they are struggling. Communicating your company resources is a great way to raise awareness of the different avenues of support on offer for struggling employees. Whether you provide free counseling, mental health days, or health insurance plans, your employees need to know about these things so they can reach out for support if they need it.co
Offer Employee Assistance Programs
Speaking of company resources, many employers are now offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) as part of their benefits package.
These incredible programs help employees struggling with stress management, depression, marital and family problems, childcare, legal and financial issues, addiction, and so much more.
And the best thing is, Employee Assistance Programs are completely free and confidential. If you’ve been searching for a great way to support the mental health of your team, offering an Employee Assistance Program is one of the best ways to do this.
Encourage Daily Physical Activity
The benefits of exercise are well-known. So, it should come as no surprise that encouraging daily physical activity is a great way to support remote employees with managing their mental health.
In fact, research shows that there is a strong connection between good mental health and exercise and that breaking a sweat can help stimulate the body’s feel-good hormones, as well as promote the release of any tension. But how do you encourage remote employees to partake in daily exercise?
Outback Team Building & Training provides virtual team-building activities to encourage engagement, boost morale within a team, and stay connected while working from home.
There’s been a robbery! Someone has masterminded a heist to steal a priceless collection of precious jewels, and it’s up to you and your team to recover them before time runs out.
Together, you’ll need to uncover hidden clues and solve a series of brain-boggling challenges that require collaboration, creative problem-solving, and outside-the-box thinking. But be quick! The clock is ticking before the stolen score is gone forever.
Just because you’re separated from your coworkers, doesn’t mean that playing in an exciting game show-style competition is off the table! In the virtual version of Game Show Extravaganza, you and your team will connect using the video communications platform, Zoom, and the Outback smartphone app.
In groups, tackle photo and trivia challenges that cover a range of topics, including pop culture and politics. You can opt to run the activity yourself or have one of our event coordinators virtually host it for you.
Team up with your colleagues for a Virtual Do-Good Games to do some good in the world and give back to those in need, all while having a blast. This is a morale-boosting virtual team building activity that transforms friendly competition into charitable donations.
At-home yoga and fitness subscriptions also encourage employee well-being. While other employees are setting monthly fitness challenges for their employees that encourage individuals to get outside every day and walk, run, cycle, or swim to win points. At the end of the month, the team with the most points wins a paid day of leave (or whatever gift you deem most appropriate). A little competition, especially when it gets people outdoors and moving, is a great way to support the health and wellness of your team while everyone is working from home.
Prioritize Saying Thank You
How often do you hear the words, “thank you?” In our opinion, employee appreciation has declined significantly since the onset of remote working. It’s far easier now for hard-working employees to slip by unnoticed and unappreciated and this can have extremely negative effects on employee mental health. After all, nobody wants to work crazy hard only to receive no appreciation for their efforts.
Saying thank you is an important way to show your remote employees that you recognize their hard work and that you care. And sometimes, a thank you is all it takes to give your employees that little boost at the end of a difficult week. Honest recognition and genuine appreciation go a long way to having a happy and mentally healthy workforce.
Managers and company leaders play a crucial part in supporting employee mental health throughout the year. Mental health can often be something individuals suffer with in silence and remote working has made it even easier for struggling employees to slip by unnoticed. So, we hope these strategies have encouraged you that there are steps you can take to support the mental health of your remote employees for the long term.
Learn More About How Team Building and Training Programs Can Help Reduce Virtual Workplace Conflict
For more information about how to reduce virtual workplace conflict with team building and training, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.
Gemma Williams is a well-established HR consultant, working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Gemma has gained experience in a variety of roles throughout her career and is now looking to connect with a wider audience to share her thoughts and insights around workplace wellness and employee engagement in business.