HBR reported remote workers are facing loneliness and negative mental health. You yourself might have noticed it in your employees. People are feeling burnout and depressed.
Poor mental health causes anxiety, irritation, and loss of work motivation. Employees lose work satisfaction and procrastinate at work.
It’s easy to understand why. Remote workers are juggling between work and life at the same time. It’s difficult to manage both, and as an employer, you should acknowledge that. If you don’t, the survey reveals, 80% of remote workers will leave the job (and rightly so).
The good news?
There’s a way you can support your remote worker’s mental health. Employees will feel less burnout, increase their work efficiency, and improve their mental health.
The more your employees feel better, the more productive they will be, which will result in increased revenue. Win-Win.
So, how can you support your remote worker’s mental health? In this post, I’ll tell you the 5 ways you can do so.
1. Let employees decide their work routine
Give your employees the freedom to work when they want. Every remote worker has to balance between their work and family. So, some employees prefer to work in the morning. Some prefer in the evening.
Don’t micromanage their work timings. Let them decide.
Other things you should do:
a) Communicate via emails. Cut meetings.
b) Don’t ask for daily status updates. Tell employees to send a weekly update instead. I ask my team to send an email every Friday answering these questions:
- What did you do this week?
- What are you planning to do next week?
This does three jobs:
i) I’m updated on their progress and don’t bother them the whole week.
ii) Employees aren't constantly disturbed and do deep work.
iii)They reflect on their work and learn how to manage their time better.
c) Create Psychological safety. Employees should make independent decisions and take risks without the fear of judgment and feeling insecure. Don’t ridicule mistakes. Tell them it’s OK to make mistakes and that they should learn from them and move forward.
Create a culture where your team members speak up and experiment without fearing negative consequences on their self-image and job. They should feel accepted and respected for their true self.
2. Conduct team-building activities
Remote work doesn’t mean 24/7 work. Encourage your employees to connect with team members and have fun. Organize team-building activities.
a) Basecamp has a bot that asks these questions every Monday morning:
- “What did you do over the weekend?”
- “What’s been your inspiration lately?”
- Or you can ask employees to share their weekend pic.
These questions trigger social conversation. People share their stories and feel heard. This strengthens team bonding and creates a positive vibe among them.
b) Celebrate small wins. Recognize your employees’ efforts. Appreciate and reward their contributions.
c) Create a private team stories podcast. Convert Kit interviews every employee about their life story for a private internal podcast. This is basically a ‘get to know me’ conversation.
The whole team can listen to it and get a head start on building relationships.
d) Schedule one day per month as a FUN day. No work-related discussions. Employees can play games, cross-communicate, read books, or talk to each other.
e) Plan in-person meetings once a quarter (3 months). Face-to-face conversations establish trust and clarity on a scale that Zoom meetings can’t.
3. Make mental health conversations normal
In 2019, SAP research found employees want to talk about mental health issues, but feel disempowered to do so and fear negative consequences. The first step is to overcome this.
Create a standard where employees shouldn’t think twice to speak about their mental health. Incentivize them to be flexible to their personal needs, take care of their health, and be open about their mental health.
a) Don’t just say you care about mental health. Practice it so that your team feels safe to prioritize self-care. Be transparent about your mental health issues. If you, as a leader, will speak about it, employees will feel encouraged to talk about their issues.
b) Check-in with your employees every 15 days. Discuss their work-life balance. Update about their work performance, so they don’t feel disconnected. See what’s bothering them.
Over-communicate. Don’t delay these conversations.
c) Educate employees about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health. Let them know who to contact in case of mental issues. So they speak about it if they are going through mental distress.
4. Offer mental health support
Support your employees to improve their mental health.
a) Provide free therapy sessions. Onboard mental health experts to speak on the topic. Encourage employees to talk to them about their mental issues.
b) Train team leaders to identify any signs of mental distress. If found, support the employee with professional help, or paid holidays.
c) Promote healthy work-life balance. Show employees how to do it. Make sure everyone is using their vacation to chill, and not working.
d) If employees need a few days or weeks off to clear their head, encourage it. (I follow this religiously, and it has helped both Mailman and our employees)
e) Provide tools to employees to screen their mental health. Share self-care tips on how to sleep better, manage stress, meditate, and practice mindfulness. You can share this information via Notion with every employee.
5. Survey your employees
Take your employees’ feedback on how you can improve their work-life balance
Make sure the answers don’t go public. Respect their privacy.
You can ask the following questions:
a) What can you do to improve their work-life balance?
b) What can you do to increase their job satisfaction?
c) What changes would employees like?
d) What are their reasons to stay on the job? Double down on it.
e) What resources do employees need to improve their skill sets?
f) Ask about the employees’ relationship with their managers.
g) What can you do for their positive mental health?
Prioritize your employees' mental health
You won’t excel in supporting your employees from day 1. I, too, didn’t. But, gradually, your efforts will help your employees improve their mental health.
It’s your willingness to prioritize your teams’ mental health that counts. Your employees will appreciate that and benefit from it. So, start with these 5 ways to get started.