Thanks to what happened in 2019 , the working landscape has changed rapidly especially for smaller businesses which did not have a robust homeworking policy in place. Of course, working from home is initially idyllic as it provides a perfect opportunity for the blending of personal life and work. With time, this is rarely the case. Your employees will be predisposed to such problems as:-
- Being unable to switch from personal to work life and vice versa
- Feelings of disconnection, isolation and loneliness both professionally and socially
- Difficulties in staying motivated
- Difficulties in prioritising workloads
- Feelings of uncertainties about their progress or whether they are performing or not
Just as you are invested in the physical health and safety of employees at your workplace, you should care about their mental health while they are working from home.
8 ways of caring for your employees’ mental health while they work from home
- Encourage them to create a professional space
It will be difficult for your employees to adapt to the new style of work particularly if they are used to high levels of interactions.
Setting up a separate work area will help your employees minimize disturbances that could render them unproductive. This also makes it possible for them to spend their free time with their families without being reminded of work.
- Check up with your employees regularly
Now more than ever, you need to build a culture of inclusivity and connection by regularly checking in with them. Rather than just asking for reports, updates on projects and the usual ‘how are you?’, ask specific questions and take your time to listen as they answer.
When an employee shares that they are struggling, you might not always know what to do or say. At times, they might be hesitant to share. This is completely fine. Knowing that you will always lend a listening ear to their struggles and achievements is what counts.
- Recognize your employees’ efforts
With your employees working from home, they are bound to feel a little disconnected. This is because they do not receive feedback as often as they used to, and they might also struggle to figure out how their specific tasks fit in with the rest of the team.
If left unchecked, this could make them lose motivation and therefore, reduced productivity.
Regularly recognize your employees’ efforts and achievement. You can do this by shouting out the top performers in your monthly recap meetings or through a company-wide email. You could also offer them monetary or non-monetary incentives.
- Normalise conversations about mental health
The sort of leadership you provide will make or break your employees’ approach to mental health. Normalise mental health topics among your employees by providing them with a safe, non-judgmental environment where they can openly speak about issues that affect them.
Organise such things as virtual focus groups and problem-solving events, forums, staff surveys and performance reviews. Remind your employees that they are entitled to sick days should the need to attend to their mental health needs arise.
Also, provide them with access to qualified professionals while they are staying at home.
- Provide them with tailored support
Mental health issues cannot be fixed through a one-size-fits-all approach. While all your employees should have access to ongoing coaching and feedback, you will need to listen to their individual needs and adjust your management style to suit them.
Some of the ways through which you can render your support to your employees are:-
- Focusing on results rather than the hours worked
- Providing them with ongoing feedback
- Recognizing and broadcasting positive achievements
- Offering mentoring or informal support partners
- Providing training and development opportunities
- Avoid work-related communication after work hours
While you will need to keep your teams constantly informed of any changes or updates in your organisation, avoid doing this after work hours. If possible, get your employees a work phone only and make them understand the importance of proper work-life balance even when they are working from home.
- Offer flexibility and inclusivity
If working remotely is new to your organisation, expect your team’s needs to change regularly. The only way you can solve upcoming issues is by knowing what’s happening. This will only be possible if you are inclusive.
While offering your teams flexibility, be as realistic as possible.
- Be empathetic
Lack of empathy by the management is often cited as the most common cause of anxiety, depression and stress among employees. Such employees are unlikely to as for help should they encounter a problem.
Much as we might want to return to normalcy, the truth is that we might never. The only way we can counter the uncertainty these unprecedented times bring is by taking this time to nurture mentally healthy workplaces and cultures.