Wellness has become a topic of discussion for everyone lately as businesses are transitioning their working environment to off-site. As a manager, you may be wondering why you should promote wellness in a remote workplace?
While it may not seem obvious for most, having an effective wellness program in place offers both tangible and intangible benefits. Think about the current situation your remote employees are currently in. COVID-19 has caused a significant impact on workers in so many ways that it is hard to get a full scope of the issues appearing daily.
Furthermore, there are still plenty of people who are feeling the effects of remote working, and their well-being is severely affected by this. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC), 41% of American adults are struggling with a mental health issue because of the recent pandemic.
Burnout is another issue that is plaguing remote workers and is reaching critical levels. A recent survey published by FlexJobs and Mental Health America shows us that 75% of workers are experiencing burnout, with 40% of them citing it as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing remote working seems to be the central cause of this issue, with employees working for longer hours and struggling to remain connected in a meaningful way with their work.
Reasons like these are why managers need to step up and prioritize wellness in a remote culture. When an organization has set an appealing wellness program, it develops a more powerful brand through happier employees and the capability to entice top talent. According to a survey published by Virgin Health, 88% of employees stated that they consider health and wellness offerings when deciding on an employer.
Businesses that set up a wellness offering also experience less amount of turnover rates, better productivity, engagement, and morale. Companies also see healthcare cost and absenteeism cost savings, according to a study by Health Affairs Journal.
Reasons to support wellness.
Plenty of studies have shown that employee wellness has an immediate impact on the success of an organization. After all, every one of your employees is contributing to the overall growth of your company. If your employees are not feeling at their best, chances are their work will be severely impacted.
Wellness reduces isolation
Remote working has made it impossible for team members to casually pop at each other's desk and chat about the work or weekend plans. Instead, everyone is working along in their home offices, and sometimes even in different cities or time zones.
A recent article published by Forbes discovered that loneliness and isolation are some of the most significant concerns reported among remote workers. The effect it has over others can go far beyond just that individual. The symptoms you can expect to appear alongside isolation are increased levels of stress and terrible decision-making.
That is something that managers need to be concerned about as these characteristics can appear on people who hold vital responsibilities. Unfortunately, remote working makes it impossible for managers to detect these feelings of isolation.
Even when things are back to routine, the impact caused by isolation and loneliness should not be ignored as psychologists have discovered about loneliness and social isolation can be twice as harmful as obesity can be to the physical and mental state. However, as a manager, you have an excellent chance to unite your employees and reduce the feelings of isolation by hosting virtual team wellness activities.
For instance, while your team cannot meet in person, attempt to host a weekly challenge that will get everyone moving around. During their time, your remote employees can go out for walks or even show off their home office space in a friendly competition. That's an excellent way to get them out of the house or walking around and remaining active.
When a person's own home starts becoming a workplace, remote employees tend to work longer hours and more days. With their computers nearby and the office only a couple of steps away, the need to finish one more task swiftly turns into hours of overtime. Recent studies have shown that remote employees tend to work one more day per month than their office-based counterparts. That results in more than three extra weeks of work per year.
From a business standpoint, this may seem like excellent news for productivity levels and projected timelines, but it is actually the opposite. Going through over time will eventually result in job burnout. That is a syndrome that happens when extreme workplace stress is not being appropriately managed.
Since remote workers are known for working more on average, it means that they are naturally more prone to experiencing burnout. As a manager, it is your job to prevent this from occurring and ensure they are suitably pacing themselves.
To ensure your employees are managing their chances of becoming overwhelmed and burnout, you need to encourage them to instill exercise breaks and social integration into their routine. A few simple things like turning off email notifications once their work is done or keeping a strict sleep schedule will help prevent the chances of them becoming burnt out. You could also schedule activities that the team could do together that don’t involve work. For instance, starting a virtual happy hour could do wonders for them and ensure they stop working for the day.
At this point, you should have a firm idea of why prioritizing wellness in a remote culture is necessary. Here is when you need to start coming up with ways that ensure your employee's wellness is taken care of to the best of your capabilities. Let us go over some of the things you can do to ensure wellness becomes a part of your remote culture.
As a manager, you are going to have your schedule filled with plenty of meetings. While adding more to your already massive schedule, it would be an excellent idea to check in on your remote workers and offer them some support. Doing so will allow you to ask them how they are doing during a 1:1 meeting, which should convey the care behind your question.
Instead of making the discussion about upcoming projects or career paths, ask them some thought questions that are about their overall wellness. Here are some questions you could ask them during these meetings:
- How are you feeling this week?
- Is there anything I can support you with?
- What was the last time you took a day off?
- How do you feel about your current job?
- Is there anything in your life that needs to be addressed?
Nurturing a remote culture that shows care for communication with their employees allows them to feel more comfortable coming to you with any issues or requests. If you notice that one of your employees seems hesitant with opening up, offer them some of your personal experiences.
For example, you could talk about how you were feeling overwhelmed as of late because of the meetings you were handling each day. As a result, you decided to take a day off to recuperate from all of the work. Reaching out to them with your personal experiences will allow you to ask them if they would also like some time off.
Letting them know that everyone experiences stress and that they deserve support will prompt them to adopt a similar mindset for themselves.
Start a company wellness program.
With the amount of evidence that has started to appear about the importance of employee wellness, most companies are beginning to offer a company wellness program as an employee benefit. These wellness programs generally include stuff like wellness challenges, virtual exercise groups, wellness classes, mental support, and emotional support services.
Having your business aim for a much healthier and happier workforce is excellent on a humane level, as well as a smart business decision overall. Wellness programs are capable of bringing employees together and developing a more positive environment. Regardless of the company is co-located, distributed, or a combination of both, it will benefit overall.
There are platforms out there that can help you make customized programs that meet every one of your remote team's unique needs and goals. Plus, they are even capable of offering reports that provide proof of your program's success.
Taking days off
While every one of the things we’ve mentioned previously is an excellent way to maintain employee wellness among your remote workers, what your team needs is time to decompress and take care of themselves away from work. There are plenty of companies that offer their employees paid time off but usually decide not to encourage their employees to use them. To resolve this issue, make taking off a mandatory rule.
As a manager, you have to keep a close watch over your employees and make sure they are not overworking themselves every single day. As the leader of the bunch, you need to set an example. Take some time off yourself and refrain from touching anything work-related when you are supposed to be offline.
Once you return to work entirely refreshed and recharged, you can communicate the value behind your mini-vacation. Commenting how you needed that day off helped you a lot and encouraged your team to do the same should plant the seed to have them take days off as well.
As a manager, you are in charge of a group of people that provide the work your business needs to turn over a profit. These employees need to remain in good health to remain productive throughout their time as one of your employees. Prioritizing wellness will ensure your remote workers take care of their health. It also takes care of your own since it would not do well if the manager were to burn out as well.