Show Your Employees You Care About Their Mental Health With These Strategies4 min read
Does your organization care about its employees’ mental health? Does it take measures to improve it? If yes, do your people know? Research suggests that many employees feel their employers do not empathize with their mental health. A Forbes study, for instance, revealed that 82 percent of American tech employees felt burnout while working remotely. Eighty percent of workers said they would consider quitting their current position for a job that prioritized employees’ mental health. Another study by Oxford’s Saïd Business School found that happy employees are more productive.
In this article, we’ll look at why employees feel neglected, what’s happening as a result, and how organizations can buck the burnout trend:
Frequent dialogue helps alleviate feelings of isolation
Remote workers report loneliness as their biggest challenge. Research shows that loneliness can drive employee burnout and turnover. Organizations should encourage casual dialogue between employees as it helps tackle the feeling of isolation associated with remote work. Managers should focus on building a culture of connection through regular check-ins. Virtual coffee breaks and “watercooler” channels can help in promoting break-time chatter and collaboration. Virtual lunch hours, where employees log-in and have their meals together, could also be an excellent way to improve social connections. Similarly, using communication platforms to create a sense of community can help develop positive engagement in remote workforces.
Conduct regular mental health surveys and sessions
Many employees share that they don’t receive the support they need to manage work stress. Mental health surveys help identify signs of mental distress in employees and provide insight to restructure organizational policies to boost talent well-being. Frequent check-ins with experts can help prevent stress and burnout among employees. They can also equip remote employees with tools to create a healthy and productive workplace. Including mental health coverage as part of health care plans can also be an effective strategy to improve workforce mental well-being. Managers should ensure that shame and stigma don’t stop employees from using their mental health benefits to seek treatment. Rather, management should encourage and normalize the use of these services.
Encourage regular breaks and time-offs
Remote employees work the equivalent of 1.4 extra days per month compared to their in-office colleagues. What’s more, remote employees often feel guilty about taking a break from work. This inability to unplug can affect their mental health, leading to burnout. And thus, a remote work schedule must consist of breaks at regular intervals. Thirty-seven percent of remote workers said that taking frequent breaks helped them refocus and relax. Encourage employees to reserve time on their calendars for a workout. Organizations can also offer fitness stipends to help employees cover costs related to their physical activities.
Let employees choose their working hours
Rigid work schedules reduce employee creativity and heighten stress levels. Seventy percent of employees said that flexible working makes a job significantly attractive, whereas 90 percent revealed it helped boost their morale. A majority of them also said that flexible hours helped reduce stress and increase productivity. Flexible schedules allow employees to work when they are the most productive. They establish a healthy boundary between work and home.
What’s more, they can help in reducing employee turnover in the long run. Managers should work with remote employees to set measurable and achievable goals for these schedules to run seamlessly. Goal-setting will move the organizational focus from the number of weekly hours put in by the remote employees to the weekly output they’re delivering.
Provide mental health training to managers and leaders
Remote workers often worry about their performance because of a lack of facetime and feedback. Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of global employees said no one at their company had asked them if they were doing okay. These respondents were 38 percent more likely than others to say that their mental health had declined since the pandemic.
Managers must demonstrate empathy with their employees. They should have regular one-on-ones with their team members to see how they are holding up. A sense of community is more likely to develop in organizations where leaders share their experience with mental health. This way, employees feel that there is a genuine and collective interest in their well-being.
Organizations have a responsibility to support their employees’ mental wellbeing. Workplaces that promote mental health are likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and benefit from the associated gains. A WHO report states that for every US$ 1 put into scaled-up treatment for employee mental health, there is a return of US$ 4 in improved health and productivity. In addition, practices like flexible hours, regular check-ins, and mental health training can help create a healthy and stress-free work environment.
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