Part of our Mental health and well-being series
Employee mental health: Work-related stress
Widespread remote work has introduced plenty of conveniences. But there have also been complications. Collaboration and teambuilding can be tough. Some employees feel isolated and alone, or unhealthy and unseen. All these add to the stresses of an unconventional year.
Here’s how to help reduce workplace stresses:
1. Make remote work easier.
Provide mental and emotional support for the realities of long-term remote work that have yet to be fully realized. Is a lack of basic resources or tools usually found in the office (anything from a comfortable desk chair to a printer and scanner) adding to their stress?
2. Focus on frontline workers.
Pay attention to the distinct mental-health needs of frontline workers such as retail clerks, bank tellers, or hospital nurses, who face additional risk through their regular close contact with the public.
3. Support grieving colleagues.
Employees may need special accommodation to grieve a coworker, friend, or relative who died from COVID-19—or to cope with the lack of traditional grieving options. And that shouldn’t distract from even more widespread and less specific feelings—a general listlessness or real grief over how radically rituals and norms have changed in 2020, with greater isolation and less interaction.
4. Keep exercising.
Companies have gotten much better in the last generation in building infrastructure around physical health (think organized employee walks or gym access). A similar infrastructure in some ways now is being built around mental health. But keep in mind that organized physical activity also can improve mental health. Can you provide more access to remote gym classes or offer a company discount for an online program such as Peloton or Daily Burn? Or adapt existing employee events to focus more on mental health?
5. Encourage collaboration.
Be more proactive about encouraging new ways to collaborate and create ad-hoc teams among employees to make up for rewarding work experiences and teambuilding that may not be happening in the same way because of how radically workflows have shifted.
6. Applaud employees.
Boost meaningful employee recognition programs—adapt them to fit the needs of new roles or remote work.
5 practices of a psychologically healthy workplace
The American Psychological Association lists these five practices as the foundation for a psychologically healthy workplace:
- Employee involvement: Empower them and give them autonomy.
- Work-life balance: Job flexibility helps support personal responsibilities.
- Employee growth and development: New skills and experience boost job motivation and satisfaction.
- Health and safety: Training, safeguards, screening, and more help protect worker and business alike.
- Employee recognition: Compensation and other affirmation drive employee engagement.
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