By Jon Clark, managing partner at Moving Traffic Media, a New York digital agency offering SEO, PPC, and Amazon marketing services.
People can feel lonely and overwhelmed when working from home. Juggling family and work responsibilities can be challenging, and a lack of communication can cause anxiety and concern.
However, management can often overlook 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 workforce is essential in terms of their own well-being and the success of your business.
Did you know that a remote worker who experiences burnout is 23% more likely to visit the emergency room? This is something no one wants for another human being. We all have a moral obligation to look out for one another.
If your remote workforce is struggling to cope, it can also impact the productivity of your business. People can find themselves too caught up in their thoughts, meaning they cannot focus on the task at hand. You may also find that they take more sick days, which naturally harms your productivity.
MORE FOR YOU
At the same time, remote workers who feel their mental health is not prioritized may end up looking for work elsewhere, so this is also critical in terms of employee retention rates and attracting the best talent. In fact, 80% of workers would consider quitting their current position for a job that concentrates more 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 employees working remotely around the world?
• Prioritize communication.
A lot of remote workers can feel isolated and disconnected. This is only made worse when the business they are working for does not communicate very well.
Because of this, it is critical to communicate effectively with your remote workers. Set up a communication strategy and check in with your employees regularly. Don’t jump straight into talking about work. Take the time to ask them how they are. Don’t underestimate just how much this means to your remote workforce.
When you communicate well with your employees, you create a remote work environment in which people feel like they can speak freely, so they will be more inclined to talk to you about any mental health struggles they face.
• Let your remote workers self-direct their mental wellness.
Most businesses acknowledge that simply offering some vacation days will not alleviate burnout on its own, so they search for different ways of providing meaningful mental wellness support to their workers.
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 may love attending a virtual wellness class, whereas another may feel drained at the thought of doing something else virtually.
Instead, let your employees decide what is best for their mental health. This could be anything from a book subscription to a massage every month. It does not always need to be along the lines of “working with a therapist.” Simply decide how much you are willing to spend per month, per employee, and put this in the hands of your remote workers.
You may find that a lot of your workers simply need a bit of help around the home, such as home cleaning services or meal deliveries.
• Readdress the way you handle virtual meetings.
How often do you schedule meetings? Are they efficient? How long do they last?
Employees spend about a fifth of their work hours in meetings! Not only does this mean they are getting less work done, but it results in their energy draining further. This leads to a lack of satisfaction, a lack of control and poor motivation levels, which are all symptoms and signs of mental health burnout.
Consider implementing no-meeting days, enabling your employees to purely focus on their tasks, rather than having their day constantly interrupted. For a remote worker, you can feel like you have to work late to make up for the time lost in the meeting.
• Give your remote employees breaks.
Take a page out of LinkedIn’s book! The company made headlines by giving its 15,900 full-time employees a paid week off to encourage them to unplug and recharge.
If you don’t think your business can cope with the doors being closed for a week, why not sprinkle a few mental health days throughout the year? Make sure you genuinely give your employees a break, though. Don’t email them or drop them a quick message on IM.
Instead, allow your remote workers to truly relax. It can benefit your business in the long run, as your employees will feel appreciated, motivated and rejuvenated.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why it is vital to concentrate on the health of your remote workers. Of course, this is the right thing to do from a human perspective, first and foremost. However, it is also critical in terms of your productivity, your success and the brand image your business portrays.