Because of the effects of the coronavirus, global-scale lockdowns, and quarantines, people have become prone to anxiety, depression, and even suicide, especially in the wake of a global recession and mass layoffs. And with 90% of minority businesses locked out of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), there can be added worries and concerns among employees.
For businesses that now work remotely, it can be even more challenging to become a champion for employees’ mental health. But it doesn’t take much effort to do so. All employers need to do is follow these 10 tips to support your remote employees’ mental health.
10 Tips to Support Mental Health of Remote Employees
1. Do regular face-to-face check-ins
In this 2020 State Remote Work report, loneliness is still ranked as one of the biggest challenges that a remote worker faces in their everyday life. In the United States, loneliness is considered an epidemic– and the risks are heightened when people are discouraged from going outside amidst a global pandemic.
So one way to show remote workers you’re there for them? Doing regular non-work-related check-ins.
Use your online collaboration tools to schedule a time to meet, either one-on-one or as a group. Strike a balance between checking in with employees individually and as a team.
If you’ve never done this regularly, it may be a little awkward at first. So, ease everyone in with some virtual icebreakers to lighten the mood and get everyone out of work mode.
2. Offer added benefits and perks
Can you perhaps offer additional benefits or perks for employees during these trying times? Some employers are now considering health plans that include mental health services for employees to enjoy– and it can be a good benefit to add if you can’t hand out raises as often as before.
If changing your company health plan isn’t an option, you can give smaller, one-time perks instead. For example, help your remote team build their dream productive workspace at home by subsidizing expenses for certain office supplies or equipment.
3. Send a mental health survey
Sometimes employees can’t open up about their mental health concerns in a virtual meeting. Some might find it easier to evaluate their wellbeing if they’re sent a guided survey or form to express where they’re struggling.
A mental health survey tells you as the employer where you can support your employees more in a very specific way. Encourage employees to be very honest when answering this survey, especially if it means it will help you support them emotionally and mentally in and out of work.
4. Encourage employees to take leaves from work
Sometimes remote employees may feel they aren’t entitled to take leaves because they already work from home and have greater flexibility. But everyone needs to take a break from work, even for a few days. Encourage employees to take their paid leaves or apply for unpaid leave whenever needed.
An effective way to encourage employees to do this? Model the behavior yourself: take leaves from work and show employees that rest is an essential part of their work lives.
5. Share mental health resources in a dedicated newsletter or channel
Sometimes sharing resources like articles or videos about mental health are enough to show employees you’re thinking about their wellbeing. Regularly send new resources to help them manage stress, reduce anxiety, or get over relatable work issues like being “always on” or being afraid of taking breaks from work.
Share these in a dedicated Slack channel for mental health, so everyone knows where to find them. Or send them in a company newsletter each week.
5. Create a company exercise calendar
There are strong links that support physical exercise being one of the most effective ways to alleviate stress and boost the spirit. As a business owner, try to find ways to get everyone to stay active, even if they’re stuck at home.
One fun way to do this is creating a company exercise calendar, or scheduling different physical activities anyone can do. For example, you can schedule a weekly dance party or invite instructors for a fun company yoga session online.
6. Express gratitude often
Gratitude is one of the only things you can give away without losing anything in return. And when it comes to your employees, expressing gratitude can help boost morale and make them feel appreciated.
Work gets stressful for everybody, but you should still reward good work and employee presence with praise. Thank everyone individually for their contributions and even praise teams for jobs well done in public Slack channels or company newsletters.
7. Put up extracurriculars and team-building activities
Give employees something to look forward to each week or month with extracurriculars they can join outside work. Encourage teams to start book or film clubs, get everyone together for a team talent show, or just have a good time playing virtual games with each other.
You can even encourage ownership of these tasks by getting volunteers to manage these activities. It can be a great way to empower employees to contribute in ways outside work and really highlight their personal strengths.
8. Host or sponsor mental health seminars
Try inviting mental health coaches to come aboard one day and give intimate seminars to the company. This can be a space for your remote employees to talk to real professionals in the mental health industry about actual issues and concerns that may be bothering them.
These seminars may also benefit you, since you can see areas to support employees in more intimate or much-needed ways. The mental health industry constantly sees changes and improvements in their research and studies, and it doesn’t hurt to stay informed.
9. Empower employees to help their communities
Sometimes we can uplift ourselves when we uplift others. Inspire a sense of community and contribution within your company by starting a volunteer program or fundraising campaign, especially in causes that matter most to your employees.
She and her company sought to help displaced hair stylists whose incomes were severely cut because of the recent COVID-19 measures that closed down several industries, including salons, out of safety risks.
10. Put employees’ well-being first
When you take care of employees, your employees take care of business. This maxim is especially true in a remote workforce that eliminates in-person interactions.
Follow these 10 tips to help you become champions of your remote employees’ mental health, and you’ll see a happier, healthier workforce who’ll stay with you for the long haul.