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Supporting mental health in a remote working world

While many organisations and employees are becoming increasingly accustomed to remote working, that doesn’t mean the question of mental health has been solved or has become less relevant. In fact, research from the Mental Health Foundation and LinkedIn reveals that 57% of professionals are more stressed and anxious about work since the pandemic made remote working the market standard.

Clearly, mental health still needs to be in the foreground of every company’s Human Resources wellbeing incentives, and every business leader from IT to finance should make it a part of their day-to-day considerations as, just like physical health, mental health is a daily reality everyone copes with.

The psychological effects of working from home:

Working from home can create a sense of isolation and a blurring of the line between ‘on and off duty’ with people working longer hours with fewer breaks. Not having a distinct line between a working environment, the home and relaxation can lead to:

Much research has also been conducted on the link between physical and mental health. When working from home some employees can find time to look after their physical health with exercise and general physical activity, but some struggle as they no longer have the demands of a commute or a lunch break to get their steps in. As physical health decreases through increasingly sedentary working routines, mental health often is impacted too, and vice versa.

The importance of supporting employee mental health:

Remote working may seem like it’s taken mental health out of employers’ hands and placed it firmly in the home, but employers are still required to manage and accommodate mental health by law even when employees aren’t physically in the workplace.

Not only that, taking a proactive approach can impact:

The mental health of your team and wider workforce is directly influenced by, and able to influence, workloads, timeframes, and productivity expectations. According to mentalhealth.org, addressing mental health for your workforce can increase productivity by as much as 12%.

Poor mental health has been estimated to cost UK employers between £33 billion and £42 billion every year. Research from Deloitte shows that on average, for every £1 spent on supporting staff mental health, employers get £5 back on their investment in reduced absenteeism, staff turnover and ‘presenteeism’.

Presenteeism refers to employees that are at work on time and are present throughout the day but are unproductive and unhappy whether due to insecurity, anxiety, or even an untreated mental health condition. Workplaces with a proactive approach to mental health will see the positive impact on productivity and the bottom line.

Having a supportive and open-minded culture that is flexible and adaptable to employees’ mental health needs and pressures has been proven to create a positive company culture, happier employees and improved employer reputation.

Ultimately, this leads to better staff retention as employees feel supported and understood; it can also lead to enhanced talent attraction too.

Tips to support employees’ mental health when working remotely:

  1. Establish a forum of discussion

Either within your team or as a company-wide scheme, establishing a discussion around mental health will pave the way for your remote workforce to feel like they can speak up if they’re struggling. A recent study found that 62% of respondents said that having someone in a leadership role speak openly about mental health would make them feel more comfortable talking about it themselves.

There are many forms this could take, from creating a forum, seminar or team meeting or soliciting anonymous feedback that allows employees to honestly express their feelings about workload, timeframes and company processes.

Whichever way you choose to start the discussion, you should try to remain sensitive to your employee’s feelings without making them feel embarrassed, guilty, ashamed or discriminated against.

Either in the form of an internal email, brochure or company memo, your employees should always be able to access the company’s policy on mental health support and know which steps to take to access the support they need.

Not only should your support structure be clear and accessible, it should also create confidence in your follow through as a leader in acting on any outreach, as well as the company’s ability to compassionately accommodate those who take these steps to get the support they need.

Having regular touchpoints with your team on a group and individual basis will allow you to reassure that support is available. You should aim to find a way to normalise mental health by addressing it regularly and encouraging your team to reach out for support as and when – and if – they need it. While you probably won’t be able to remove the stigma entirely, you will at least reassure your remote team that there are resources for them to get through this challenging time.

At Trace we understand that people make a business and people need a supportive and responsive company culture. We partner with both you and the candidate throughout the recruitment and onboarding process, enabling us to provide a fully consultative approach and flag any issues early on.

We believe company culture is the heartbeat of a company. Cultural fit is the basis of longevity, and in the face of further uncertainty, finding a match that will be a long-term placement with your organisation is of the utmost importance. It’s a crucial part of your business and should have a place in your recruitment strategy. We created our own Predictive Fit ProfilerTM (PFIT) process to ensure the right cultural fit every time. 

Find out more about how we can help you trace the right talent for your finance function by getting in touch with us today.

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