ADDRESSING THE DECLINE IN MENTAL HEALTH IN REMOTE EMPLOYEES
COVID has forced many European countries back into a full lockdown requiring employees, who have the option, to work from home. They are unable to escape to the office, unable to see friends and family, and unable to live their lives without worry. These conditions not only cause stress, but severe loneliness.
By nature, LHP Europe is a remote company. Our employees work between three offices: Bologna, Cologne, and Columbus. Our office is considered an ‘escape’ for our employees. It allows our employees to refresh their mind through a change of scenery, collaborate with coworkers, and meet in-person. Unfortunately, with lockdown, our Italy and Germany employees are required to work remotely.
WORKING FROM HOME
As it turns out, working remotely might become the new norm. Studies show that around two-thirds of companies expect to keep their work from home policies. Evidence shows that employees are even more productive at home! Who would have thought? This is because time is not lost commuting, there are no office distractions, and employees are able to relax and work comfortably.
Unfortunately, working from home means less face-to-face meetings and interactions leading to more alone time. Too much alone time can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health. For instance, research shows 42% of global employees have experienced a decline in mental health since the pandemic began. How can managers and leaders take action to acknowledge and improve the mental health of their employees? Support your team!
SUPPORTING EMPLOYEES MENTAL HEALTH
Below I have listed 3 keyways you can support your employees and their well-being during and after the pandemic.
- Connect with your team. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Make sure you are checking in with your team on a regular basis. Set up a weekly 1:1 meeting, assist on a project, prioritize a task that needs to be done. Building a strong company culture of checking in on each other on a regular basis can increase a team’s morale and productivity.
- Working from home makes it hard to see how your employees are doing mentally and physically. You may never know an employee is struggling unless that employee speaks up. As a manager or leader, it is up to you to initiate this conversation. Harvard Business Review did a study with Qualtrics and SAP and states that “nearly 40% of global employees said no one at their company had asked them if they were doing OK – and those respondents were 38% more likely than others to say that their mental health had declined since the outbreak.”
- Be flexible. Take a step back and analyze how you run your company – paid and unpaid leave, work hours, communication, and other rules and guidelines. Are you generous, realistic, and flexible with your team? Flexibility can help employees feel less guilty about devoting time to non-work related tasks during work hours. For instance, picking up their child from school or going to an appointment. According to Flexjobs, 42% of managers believe flexibility is essential to organizational success.
- Offer more than just sick days. Being sick does not always mean a runny nose and a fever. A relaxing day off work can be just the thing an employee needs to improve their mental health and production at work. Allow these days for physical health, emotional health, mental health, or burnout.
- Model Healthy Behavior. What do I mean here? If you want a healthy work-life balance for your employees, show them YOU have a healthy work-life balance! Open up to employees about your activities during work hours. Such as taking a walk or picking up kids from school. Covid has caused unpredictability in many of our lives and working from home can add additional stress. These stressors can make it difficult to separate work from personal time.
WHAT IS WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
An employer should encourage employees to practice the following five skills:
- Prioritize what is truly important, both at work and at home.
- Take control over their career path. Define what work they enjoy, and what work is exhausting them. Help them through to those difficult tasks!
- Encourage better physical health. A great way to do this is with health challenges among your employees! Challenge them to cook and eat healthy meals, get plenty of sleep, incorporate exercise into their daily routine, or even try meditation.
- Be present: Encourage employees to have a dedicated workspace for work only. This can help them leave work at work and home at home.
Work-life balance means having a healthy balance between your working life and your personal life. Time spent on work should be balanced by time spend doing the things you love with the people you love.
Why is work-life balance important? Spending time on activities you love – physical activities, hobbies, and social outings with friends and family are necessary to live happy and healthy. If one is constantly putting work over life, their mental health can decline along with their motivation and productivity.
Encourage your employees to step away from the computer at a designated each day and relax! Remind them to take frequent breaks to stretch, listen to music, or go on a short walk.
LHP Europe takes pride in keeping our employees safe, happy, and healthy. We offer flexibility in the workplace, encourage video meetings vs. conference calls, and hold monthly health and fitness challenges that encourage our team to stay active and healthy. As a result of these challenges, we see our team getting outside more, eating healthier, and spending more time on their mental well-being.
Checking in on your employees does not have to be hard. A quick meeting or a simple “how are you” can go a long way to keeping your employees healthy and happy.
Madison Glass – Marketing Director of LHP Europe