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How to take care of the mental health of your employees who work remotely?

AAlthough the COVID-19 pandemic focuses on an infectious disease that affects the physical human body. Its impact has been catastrophic for many other aspects of our collective health, mental health in particular. As companies we must take care of the mental health of remote employees.

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In the annual profit report that Metlife made a few months ago after the pandemic, it revealed that:

 

  • The 44% of employees now have serious concerns about their physical, mental, and social health.
  • The Employee 80% believes that their employers have a responsibility to address their health and wellness. Especially during COVID-19, compared to the 73% before the pandemic.

 

Another study conducted in early 2021 found an increase in the 50% in depression and a decrease in the 60% in focus among all employees of all ages in their workplaces.

 

Overall, nearly half of workers have suffered from mental health issues since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

 

So based on these numbers alone, it's clear why employee mental health is a top priority. For companies as they try to adjust to a whole new world of work which, for most companies, includes remote work. What happens, then, when companies don't pay attention to the mental health of employees? What are the tangible repercussions of employee burnout?

 

Burnout and depression also overlap, which means that ignoring employee burnout in your organization can lead to mental health challenges. Even more complex, not to mention the huge impact it can have on overall productivity.

 

First, we must recognize that supporting the mental health of our employees is not just about preventing burnout. It's about fostering a supportive workplace that addresses the wellness needs of its employees no matter where they are.

 

To do that, we share with you four effective approaches that companies around the world should adopt to take care of the mental health of their employees:

 

1. Take a collective break to take care of the mental health of your employees remotely

Before the pandemic, 55% of workers didn't use all of their paid vacation time, and even when they did, they often took their job with them. One of the main reasons employees are hesitant to take time off is because they struggle to find the “right” time and worry that their boss will judge them.

 

And this has worsened after the pandemic. As a result of long-term remote work, employees are putting in more hours and facing bigger workloads. Meanwhile they postpone vacations because there is nowhere to go and they feel they cannot justify it.

 

A remedy for that, to which more and more companies are beginning to resort after more than a year and a half at home. They are days off throughout the company for mental health reasons.

 

The power of this tactic is that it shows that your company cares enough about employee health to dedicate a break period specifically for that purpose. Even if it means losing those hours of productivity.

 

2. Address meeting fatigue

The average employee attends 62 meetings per month, which is roughly a fifth of their work hours in meetings. Not only are they doing less of their work, but in an age of Zoom calls and remote work. This equates to additional energy loss. This leads to a lack of motivation, a lack of control, and a lack of satisfaction with their job accomplishments; all the signs and symptoms of mental health burnout.

 

One response to mitigate this mental fatigue from meetings is to institute days without meetings. Ideally, offer it on the same day every week so employees can enjoy it regularly. So taking care of the mental health of our employees will help us.

 

3. Allow employees to direct their mental well-being themselves to take care of the mental health of your employees remotely

Most companies recognize that offering a few vacation days does not, by itself, alleviate burnout. So they are looking for other ways to provide meaningful support for the mental well-being of its employees. The most popular programs that have met this need include virtual wellness classes, mental health app subscriptions, and therapy sessions.

 

The nice thing about these options, at least for employers, is that they "check the box" for mental wellness support. And employees anywhere can benefit from them. Since remote work can take another two years, that's certainly a big plus.

 

4. The four-day workweek 

While doing things like giving employees more time off and reducing the overall meeting load are great practices to support employee mental health. These strategies represent a small drop compared to the 90,000 hours the average person will spend at work during their lifetime. They feel even less impactful when the work environment employees return to feels like an endless cycle of long hours and too much work.

 

That's what the four-day workweek addresses: Reducing employee stress and promoting work-life balance by making life less work.

 

The idea is that with an extra day off each week, employees have more time to enjoy and regularly take care of their home and personal life. Where before they struggled to fit into their daily routines or neglected themselves completely. When the internal environment is regularly maintained, employees are less stressed and more focused. Thus they will be able to accomplish as much work in four days as they do in five.

 

As the workplace continues to change in the coming months and even years in the face of remote and hybrid work, your employees will bear the brunt of stress and uncertainty. This will influence their mental health, no matter how resilient they are.

 

We must always actively listen and relieve the greatest stressors in our employees' lives. This can preempt potential burnout and mental health issues and set you apart as a progressive and supportive employer that people will want to work for. That will be a powerful draw in these times when employers are struggling to find ideal candidates.

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