Remote work has managed to provide plenty of opportunities for both employees and companies. Remote working is beneficial for the company that offers it and employees who decide to work from home. It has proven to make employees more productive and effective. Most employees also feel that the flexibility of working remotely has exceedingly improved their lives overall.
However, there is one thing that many business leaders are seemingly unaware of or possibly ignoring when it comes to their employees. The mental health of an employee can be overlooked by employers, especially if they are working offsite. Business leaders must place the mental health of their employees as a significant concern.
While it is true that working from home does support the health and safety of remote employees, recent events have caused a surge of mental health to decline. COVID-19 caused companies to change the way they conduct their businesses and shift their employees into a remote setting for the time being.
Some of them may have adapted effortlessly to the changes. However, most of them were most likely impacted by these changes. The uncertainty caused by these changes inevitably leads to tons of confusion, fear, panic, and stress among employees. A recent survey has revealed that workers feel that this is the most stressful time of their entire life.
Companies can no longer ignore the fact that they need to start prioritizing their employees' mental health. Not many companies have realized who crucial it is that they managed to keep their employee's mental health at its best. Team managers need to step up and ensure they have methods in place that can assist their remote employees when they need mental health assistance.
For this post, we are going to go over why team managers need to prioritize employees' mental health.
Mental health for remote working environments
According to the National Institute of Mental Illness, nearly one in five American adults live and experience mental illness. The condition behind these mental illnesses ranges from mild to severe. Even though mental illness is a growing concern among medical professionals, there still exists a stigma in the workplace.
One study even shows that only 25% of people feel that others are being sympathetic about their mental illness. Although anxiety and depression are becoming a growing issue, the stigma of mental illness can prevent people from seeking the help they need, even from those closest to them. Around 60% of adults who are experiencing some form of mental illness do not receive any mental health services.
During a time when everyone is growing weary of remaining at home every day and avoiding social interactions, these feelings will only continue to increase. Team managers need to be aware of the ramification of avoiding these mental health issues. Not only will it severely impact the overall work, but lead to remote employees leaving the company.
Loneliness and isolation
Remote employees are missing out on that much-needed interaction they usually have with their colleagues in the office environment. The loneliness that starts to increase can take a significant toll on a person. Fast Company published a research paper that looks into the impact of loneliness and what it does to an individual's health. The study discovered that social isolation boosts the risk of mortality by 29%.
Furthermore, social isolation and loneliness can potentially cause problems, such as cardiovascular health complications and stress-related sick leave. Team managers need to remember that some of their remote employees thrive from human interaction. Not everyone will effortlessly adapt to shifting over to remote working, especially if they are accustomed to being surrounded by people they can easily chat with. Remote employees can feel a sense of isolation and loneliness, especially if they are the extroverted type.
Team managers need to come up with ways they can mitigate the cause behind these issues. Fortunately, there are ways that team managers can ensure their employees remain in touch with their colleagues. Using chat solutions and video conferencing tools is ideal for these situations. Conducting various activities like icebreakers and team-building exercises can assist with minimizing the feeling of isolation.
Stress and burnout
Stress is a common thing everyone experiences in the workplace. It could be from dealing with coworkers or managers, demanding projects, or even having to spend long hours at the office to get a task done. These types of factors can cause some severe effects on a person's mental health and well-being.
Of course, there are still challenges that need to be addressed when it comes to remote working. A good amount of people are experiencing work burnout from working long hours at home. While this may seem like a good thing for business leaders, it is something that could make productivity grind to a halt if not addressed.
Deloitte surveyed burnout, and they discovered that 77% of employees are currently experiencing burnout at their job. They also state that 91% of employees who experience frustration or unmanageable stress have the quality of work impacted, and 83%% of them experience a negative impact in personal relationships because of burnout. Even someone excited about their job is still experiencing some form of stress, with 64% of them stating they are stressed out from work regularly.
Furthermore, 70% of the people who participated in this survey established that they feel their employers are not doing enough to alleviate or prevent burnout. Some are claiming that they feel as not enough support or recognition is occurring from their leaders.
The risk of burnout from remote working is gradually increasing each day. With 1 and 4 Americans working from home throughout 2021, burnout is an issue that needs to be addressed. The mental impact this has on remote employees will lead to severe issues if left untouched. Remote workers may feel they are more productive by working from home, but a good percentage of them are starting to become stir crazy.
The number of employees who are experiencing remote working for the first time is high. Most of them are likely having difficulty with separating their work and home life. Instead of the usual pressure experienced in an office environment, they also need to deal with family members living on the same roof. It has caused home and works life to intertwine, leading to employees undergoing remote work burnout.
Team managers need to step up.
Team managers need to prioritize the mental health of their employees. Stigma causes plenty of people to shy away from even speaking about any mental health issue they are going through, which prevents them from seeking treatment. Managers need to make it clear that it’s okay to converse about mental health. That way, remote employees will know they can ask for help. If possible, managers can speak about their own mental health experiences and share them with their team to ease them into opening up themselves.
Urge them to take breaks
Remote workers are known for working much longer than their office counterparts. Taking breaks is essential in preventing any unhealthy habits from happening. Managers need to encourage their employees to take breaks throughout the day. Letting them go outside for a walk or exercise for a while can help them relieve stress.
There are all sorts of ways a remote employee can take their break and get them away from the computer. Doing so will allow them to take some time to relax and group on a physical and mental level.
If someone has tons of workload through getting too, it can be more challenging to take a break, especially if they fear falling behind from the rest. Managers need to make sure they assign realistic timelines and achievable goals for their remote workers. Your remote workers are already stressed enough as it is, so you need to help your employees by not piling even more stress on them. If you need to add more work onto their pile, reach out to them and see if they can accept the task.
Set up a time for socialization
Socialization is known for having significant mental health benefits, but remote workers have lost the opportunities they previously had to speak with colleagues about mundane matters over coffee or near the water cooler. Managers need to take the time to set up opportunities for socialization by providing channels where employees can catch up with each other.
Encourage them to take virtual coffee breaks or even share a lunch over a video call. Team activities can also offer them a chance to socialize by providing entertainment that has them all laugh and even win prizes. Group watch parties allow them to stream movies together, or virtual happy hours are also potential ways to encourage social interaction. The point is to get them all together and have them interact to prevent loneliness and isolation from setting in.
Mental health is an issue that organizations should not ignore. Businesses need to consider these issues when it comes to their remote workers. Team managers need to ensure their team is properly adjusting and are taking care of themselves. Managers that show they care will earn the loyalty of their employees. They also get to enjoy a productive and efficient remote team that gets things done.