As we start 2021 with a national lockdown, what can employers do to ensure the wellbeing of their teams as they work remotely?
The World Health Organization estimates that depression and anxiety disorders account for around $1 trillion in global productivity losses per year. This shocking statistic is likely to get worse.
Whilst working from home has been made ‘easy’ due to advances in technology, it has created new issues. Work and home lives inevitably blur making it hard to properly switch off. Add to this a lack of face-to-face encounters, no routine, paycuts and reduced career progression and you can understand why the risk to mental health is great. This risk affects employers as well as employees as we detailed in our recent ‘Overlook Itchy Feet at Your Peril’ blog which you can read here.
If your company is not yet on board with mental health initiatives, here are a few ways you can make it more of a priority:
Check in with your team regularly. Working from home is lonely and creates a sense of isolation. Ensure that you schedule in ‘contact’ time regularly and in advance so your employees continue to feel connected.
Open a workplace dialogue and teach coping strategies. Encourage your employees to create their own Wellness Plan and to put in place practical steps to help them support their own mental health. Ask them if they would like to share their Wellness Plan with you, so you can help them keep on track.
Be more accountable about your working culture and what kind of message you are putting out to your employees. There is a balance about what is expected – it’s simply not realistic for any employee to be ‘on call’ all the time. Ask your teams to set alarms to ensure they take regular breaks. Encourage them to take time out daily for some exercise or meditation.
People don’t always know how to manage their workload effectively, and it can take some time to perfect the art. Stay open to getting in a trainer to support comms professionals with how to prioritise workloads effectively and understanding the difference in what is urgent/important/not urgent/not important.
Mental health has been a taboo subject at work for a very long time, so any initiative may take time to become a comfortable part of the culture. It’s important not to rush things—no one wants to feel ambushed when it comes to their mental health. Be patient, experiment to see what works for your company, and make sure that employees feel safe and supported at every turn. Your efforts will pay off in the long run - in the form of greater productivity and healthier, happier employees.