Sershen Ingram MERJE
In a recent survey, B2B software search site Capterra found that almost three-quarters (71%) of UK workers have reported experiencing a certain degree of “burnout” while working from home during the pandemic.
The study, which analyses how working from home has affected motivation and stress levels, found that many workers said the boundaries between work and home life are “blurring”, with three-quarters (75%) suffering from more than one burnout symptom.
Experiencing sleeping problems (35%), the feeling of isolation (32%) and finding it difficult to concentrate (31%) were the three most common symptoms reported by employees since they started working remotely.
More than half (56%) of respondents said they sometimes or often answer work emails on the weekend, while 35% often use personal devices for work and 66% work more outside of formal work hours, leaving the boundaries between their personal and professional lives unclear.
As a result of working overtime, 62% of respondents reported feeling the same or a higher level of stress since the transition to working from home due to the pandemic. Capterra also found that employee mental health was “rarely prioritised” in UK companies, as 45% of British workers said they haven’t discussed their mental well-being with their manager since the pandemic began.
In addition, C-suite executives have been found to struggle more with their mental health than their employees, according to a new report by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, a HR research and advisory firm. The study of more than 12,000 employees, managers, HR leaders and C-Suite executives across 11 countries found that C-suite executives struggled to adapt more, with 53% having struggled with mental health issues in the workplace.
The report showed that they found it the most difficult to adapt to remote working realities and virtual lifestyles, with 85% reporting “significant” remote working challenges including collaborating with teams virtually (39%), managing increased stress and anxiety (35%), and lacking workplace culture (34%).
Interestingly, they were the demographic most open to using AI for help with mental health. Some 73% would prefer to talk to a robot, such as chatbots and digital assistants, about their mental health over a human, compared to 61% of other employees.
Overall, the study found that mental health challenges created by the pandemic impacted workers differently depending on their seniority, generation and location. Younger generations experienced the most burnout, while India, UAE, China and the US had the most workers reporting the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.
Nearly 90% of Generation Z workers said that the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health, while 94% noted workplace stress impacts their home life. Gen Z workers were also twice more likely than Baby Boomers to work extra hours during the pandemic, while Millennials were 130% more likely to have experienced burnout than Baby Boomers.
Here, we provide advice around how to protect employee well-being and maintain productivity when working from home during the ongoing Covid-19 situation and beyond.
Keep in touch
Take the time to schedule phone or video calls as frequently as you see fit, be it daily or weekly. The idea is that you can continually assess workflow, set new tasks and check on your employee’s well-being and state of mind.
Working from home might be causing unforeseen issues for an employee, so it’s important to get feedback when you can. It also provides the opportunity to broach topics that aren’t work related, such as weekend plans, asking after the family and discussing the latest news.
Encourage a work/life balance
Working from home can result in the lines between personal and professional lives becoming blurred. This is because employees may feel the pressure to work harder or longer hours without the usual supervision.
As an employer, you need to balance keeping productivity up alongside encouraging people to keep taking screen breaks and going for a walk. When working from home, it can be very easy to feel tempted to stay in front of a laptop throughout lunch breaks or extend the end of the day by a few hours.
Counter this by encouraging employees to work their contracted hours and finish for the day at a set time as they would ordinarily do at the office. This means that their working day won’t blend into their home life, helping them to strike that all-important work/life balance.
Arrange regular team meetings
Tools such as Zoom, Odro and Microsoft Teams help colleagues to easily stay connected. To the end, try to keep team meetings and catch-ups scheduled in your diaries for the same time and day of the week to foster a familiar routine.
This helps to maintain the consistency of the normal working week, which will make the running of your business that much easier than if unscheduled meetings start to increasingly crop up. It also assists in replicating the momentum of the normal working environment, while helping people to socialise in the manner in which they might do ordinarily.
Invest in collaborative tools
There are a lot of tools available now which enable employees to freely interact with one another. They include Slack, Asana, Flock and Basecamp to name a few. These are online collaboration tools where everyone can keep track of the tasks assigned to them and quickly establish what stage they are at. They also encourage people to work together closely, which will help to boost morale and prevent people from feeling too isolated or siloed.
Provide mental health resources
It’s important that your employees know that you support them and communicating this to them can really benefit their well-being. Giving them access to mental health training and resources will assist in this process.
Take the time to provide advice around mental health charities such as CALM and the Mental Health Foundation and help your employees to open up a dialogue if they need it. These charities have trained counsellors on hand to provide fully confidential advice on mental health and wellbeing, providing the perfect way to access help from qualified professionals while staying at home.
If you would like to discuss your employees’ well-being requirements in more detail, please contact the MERJE team.