In the past, employees’ opportunity to avoid a daily commute and work from home has been a highly sought-after endeavor. Fast forward to the year 2020, and the reality of working from home has become a nearly ubiquitous part of life for many Americans. The reality of a post-Covid-19 society is too often one of complete social detachment. The combination of social distancing, remote shopping, distance learning, quarantining, and remote working has resulted in the near-complete isolation of Americans’ untold numbers.
Here are four steps that employers can take to mitigate or reduce the emotional stress to their employees who are working remotely:
Have Leadership Communicate Resources and Encourage PTO
Employees are more likely to take advantage of company resources when management is the driving force behind encouraging using those resources. Leadership needs to work against the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage employees to take care of themselves, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
When communicating the company’s mental health benefits, management can share their personal experiences using these resources to maintain their mental health. Health insurance plans, telehealth, online therapy, employee assistance programs (EAPs), and PTO are just a few of the resources available to assist employees during this unprecedented time.
Work-related stress was a large contributing factor to employees becoming physically ill in 2020. With access to work at the click of a button from home, it’s essential to encourage time off so that employees can get well and come back refreshed. Similarly, taking a vacation is something managers and employees shouldn’t be shying away from. Even with travel restrictions in place, everyone needs to unplug from work fully, and leadership setting the example can help encourage employees to do the same.
Promote Physical Activity
Exercise is known to have a multitude of health benefits, both mental and physical, from helping with depression and anxiety to alleviating stress, physical activity as a way to consistently improve and maintain your mental health. By encouraging employees to take time for their physical health daily, management can help make exercise a cornerstone in protecting their health and well-being.
Companies can promote physical activity by offering at-home fitness subscriptions, sharing health tips, and encouraging regular breaks and cut-off times for work. Incorporating lighthearted challenges like using fitness trackers and well-being apps can also encourage employees to stay focused on their health while staying connected to their co-workers.
Promote Virtual Socialization
Social interaction encourages a healthy mental state and can help decrease depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, remote workers have lost the day-to-day opportunities to interact with co-workers and others outside of the workplace. The compiling isolating factors make the promotion of virtual socialization all the more important.
Virtual happy hours, catch-up coffee break conference calls, and team lunches are just a few examples of ways management can build optional social time into the workplace. Many employees feel uncared for by their employers as individuals, so it’s essential not just to talk business but also to socialize on a conversational level that lets them know you care.
Appreciate and Encourage Employees
Recognition and appreciation from leadership can create a more positive mental space for employees, especially when working from home. Gratitude is good for employee engagement, motivation, retention and can strengthen employee relationships. Sending along thank you notes or emails that praise employee milestones can help employees understand how appreciated they are. Businesses that make mental health a priority for their remote workers, especially during this trying time, will create a better work experience for their employees.
Creating a healthy work environment can be overwhelming at first but will ultimately be rewarding for your employees and your organization. If you have any questions or would like to speak with a team member to discuss your current situation and potential options, please contact us.