By Jon Clark, managing partner at Moving traffic mediaa New York-based digital agency that offers SEO, PPC, and Amazon marketing services.
People can feel lonely and overwhelmed when they work from home. Reconciling family and work responsibilities can be challenging, and a lack of communication can cause fear and anxiety.
However, management often overlooks this. It’s the classic “out of sight, out of mind” scenario.
Rather than turning a blind eye to the mental health of your remote workers, this is something you should actively invest in.
Why the mental health of your remote workers matters
The mental state of your remote employees is essential to their own well-being and the success of your company.
Did you know that a teleworker who experiences burnout, 23% more chance to the emergency room? This is something no one wants for another human being. We all have a moral obligation to take care of each other.
If your remote workforce is struggling to cope, it can also affect your company’s productivity. People can get too caught up in their thoughts, meaning they can’t focus on the task at hand. They may also take more sick days, which is of course detrimental to your productivity.
At the same time, remote workers who feel their mental health is not a priority may end up looking for work elsewhere, so this is also critical to retaining employees and attracting the best talent. 80% of employees would even consider quitting their current job for a job more focused on their well-being.
How to invest in the mental health of your remote workers
So, what can you do to take care of the mental health of your remote workers around the world?
• Prioritize communication.
Many telecommuters can feel isolated and closed off. This only gets worse if the company they work for doesn’t communicate well.
That’s why it’s critical to communicate effectively with your remote employees. Draw up a communication strategy and check in with your employees regularly. Don’t start talking about work right away. Take the time to ask how they are doing. Don’t underestimate how much this means to your remote workforce.
When you communicate well with your employees, you create a remote work environment where people feel they can speak freely, so they will be more likely to talk to you about any mental health issues they may be facing.
• Let your teleworkers manage their own mental well-being.
Most companies recognize that offering a few days of vacation alone doesn’t alleviate burnout, so they’re looking for different ways to provide meaningful mental wellness support to their employees.
While these are all great options, it’s important to remember one thing: everyone is different. What may work for one person may not work for another. One employee might enjoy attending a virtual wellness class, while another might feel exhausted at the thought of doing something virtually different.
Instead, let your employees decide what’s best for their mental health. This can be anything from a book subscription to a monthly massage. It doesn’t always have to be along the lines of ‘working with a therapist’. Simply determine how much you are willing to spend per month, per employee, and put it in the hands of your remote employees.
Many of your employees may simply need some help around the house, such as cleaning services or meal deliveries.
• Customize the way you handle virtual meetings.
How often do you schedule meetings? Are they efficient? How long will they last?
Employees spend about a fifth of their working hours in meetings! Not only does this mean they get less work done, but it also leads to their energy draining further. This leads to a lack of satisfaction, a lack of control, and poor motivation, all symptoms and signs of mental health burnout.
Consider implementing non-meeting days so that your employees can focus purely on their tasks, rather than having their day constantly interrupted. For a remote worker, you may have to work late to make up for lost time in the meeting.
• Give your remote employees breaks.
Take a page out of LinkedIn’s book! The company made headlines for its 15,900 full-time employees have a paid week off to encourage them to unplug and recharge.
If you don’t think your business can handle being closed for a week, why not sprinkle in a few days of mental health throughout the year? Just make sure you give your employees a break. Don’t email them or send them a quick message on IM.
Instead, let your remote workers really relax. It can benefit your business in the long run as your employees feel valued, motivated and rejuvenated.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why it is vital to focus on the health of your remote workers. Of course, this is primarily the right thing to do from a human perspective. However, it is also critical to your productivity, your success, and the brand image your company conveys.