Supporting employees who will continue to work remotely

Written by
Jeannie Brady

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May is Mental Health Month and as we ascend into a season of all things new, it is the perfect time for some digital spring cleaning.

Today, employers are tasked with maintaining an engaged, stable, productive, and healthy workforce while juggling an ever-evolving global pandemic. Engaged leadership is continually challenged with striking a balance of economic sustainability for their organizations while cultivating a resourceful and supportive culture of wellness where their employees can contribute their best work in a Work From Home (WFH) or Work From Anywhere (WFA) environment.

For everyone, the pressure to stay continuously connected has morphed largely from being social entertainment and self-contained to now integrating into work, life, and play. There is literally very little reprieve from those amazing personal devices that help us achieve the impossible all within twenty-four hours. What is even more astounding is how much tech time impacts and affects our ability to be mindfully focused.

There are several practices employers can adopt in creating healthy workforce behaviors and attitudes to help shape a culture of digital wellness for their employees.

  • Take a deep dive in assessing the overall happiness meter of your employees. One way to accomplish this is through employee engagement surveys. Surveys give organizations a clear view of opportunities that may have been overlooked or undervalued while many continue to work remotely. Use the results to target priority areas that leadership can address in real-time. Share the results of the surveys. Transparency is a high indicator to employees that trust is valued within an organization. Use the results to prioritize critical areas and develop a plan to address those areas, execute and follow through on agreed-upon commitments with employees. Take another pulse check within six to nine months.
  • Train management on how to identify and address signs of a less-than-healthy workforce such as burnout, loneliness, depression, and fatigue. The most direct way management can make a rapid and effective impact on the wellness levels of employees is through scheduled one-on-one check-ins with each team member. These meetings should create an environment where employees can voice their opinions and where managers engage in active listening to provide everyone with the appropriate support.
  • Seize opportunities to make a human connection regularly and often. An effective way to accomplish this is through appreciation. Showing appreciation for a job well done does not have to be public or formal, it should, however, be timely, frequent and authentic.
  • Deploy the necessary resources to aid employees in finding balance in their virtual professional and personal lives. This can be achieved in several ways. Begin with collectively defining expectations with guidelines to work remotely. Set them up for success with the necessary tech tools, supply them with practical ergonomic items to create a workspace that allows them to perform their best work.
  • Be inclusive. Stretch your organization to ensure every employee is included and actively participating in creating a more connected and cohesive workforce digitally. For example, challenge employees to make an impact on matters they are passionate about, such as participating in committees or small groups. The subjects can be as broad as social change, professional development, or organized around hobbies and interests.

Research from Gallup shows that the most common challenge at this time is loneliness with 21% reporting this as their biggest struggle with working remotely.

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