Mental Health of Your Remote and Hybrid Employees

Remote work can sound like an appealing format for many people. However, contrary to popular opinion, it does come with stressors of its own. In fact, even two years after the pandemic and the rise of remote working as the safest way to keep workplaces running, remote and hybrid employees still struggle with unique, often unforeseen, challenges. This is due in no small part to a lack of familiarity with the remote work model, such as candidates struggling with video interviews with mortgage recruiters. There are other aspects at play as well, including mental health challenges due to stress.

Here are a few basic but effective tips that employers and workforce managers can leverage to give remote or hybrid workers the support they need.

Create Resources and Support Materials for Struggling Workers

Workers today have new sets of challenges. A heavier dependence on remote working technology is certainly a major one. There is also the notable absence of in-person contact, larger gaps in communication, and an overarching perception of uncertainty. Under these stressful conditions, it is not uncommon for employees to feel overwhelmed. Employers can address the problem before it even arises by making support material and resources accessible to their workforce.

Two years of remote work have offered a lot of insight into the challenges (whether related to work or mental health) that workers encounter most commonly. For example, a Pittsburgh-based employer could reach out to a local staffing agency in Pittsburgh for information on what employees need. Or an employer could collect anonymous employee feedback to understand their challenges and the state of their well-being.

Generally speaking, employers can readily access all the information they need to create resources and support material for their employees. The next steps, like creating help groups, assistance programs, instructions to maintain or improve mental health, etc., are all meaningful steps that can help struggling employees.

Offer Flexibility with Workload to Avoid Burnout

Employee burnout predates the pandemic, but it is still a significant problem for remote workers. Burnout impedes productivity and motivation. Unless addressed, it usually results in an increased employee turnover ratio. That means increased recruiting costs to source and onboard a replacement. For example, manufacturing companies have often had to work with manufacturing staffing solutions to fill positions that workers with burnout had to vacate.

Remote employees must contend with an entirely new way of working in addition to often navigating tough working hours. To avoid increasing worker burnout and turnover, employers should seriously consider the benefits of flexible working conditions that allow employees more room to manage their mental health.

Encourage the Use of Mental Health Days When Needed

Offering mental health days is a practical way for an employer to demonstrate its commitment to its people. In parallel, managers who work directly with struggling employees need to be encouraging them to take these mental health days when needed.

Workers will often try to push past mental health issues without seeking the right treatment because of the perceived stigma around mental health. Many may even feel that voicing the need for rest due to mental health reasons could threaten their career and advancement opportunities.

Alongside employers, managers must make every effort to dispel this perception. Workers that have mental health problems may not be able to perform at 100%, no matter how well-intentioned their motivation to work is. As a result, denying them time off for mental health reasons would jeopardize their health, productivity, and professional reputation far more than allowing them the time needed to address their health and well-being.

Workplace Demands Must Respect Boundaries

The primary focus of any sound talent acquisition strategy is the hiring and development of productive and motivated professionals, but this productivity cannot come at the expense of an employee’s well-being and motivation.  Among a remote workforce, necessary work-life boundaries are often blurred.

Unless certain boundaries are in place and are respected, employees can easily start feeling that their work is beginning to invade their private time. Employers may need to consider creating policies and rules that address the times during which workplace demands are acceptable. Otherwise, they risk pushing employees into unnecessarily stressful conditions.

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