Mental Health Check: 5 Ways to Support Your Remote Workforce through Tough Times

With the drastic shift in work environments almost at the year mark as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no wonder that feelings of stress and disconnect have reached a high among workforces. Mental health and the well-being of the workforce have taken center stage, and for good reason, considering the challenges working adults faced. Many permanent employees felt an unanticipated change sweep over them – from where they may be sitting for work every day, to looming notions of layoffs, furloughs, restructuring, and even terminations. Independent consultants, while more accustomed to a non-traditional work environment, also felt the ripples – with projects put on hold, hiring freezes, and some client work all but drying up.

Much of the day shifted to a remote work environment for many individuals, which adds a whole new dynamic to the work-day. When juggling work inside the home, even the most disciplined workers could still feel uncertainty as they navigated through illness, shortages in essentials, child care concerns, and more. Through all this, however, we’ve learned that managing unexpected lifestyle changes, while also maintaining a viable work-life, does not have to fall squarely on the shoulders of the employee or consultant alone. Organizations quickly realized their part and stepped-up support for their teams through these hard times, which also led to workers feeling an increased commitment to their company as a result.

How can you actively support and value your remote team members?
At Matlen Silver, it started with extending that support not only to internal staff members but also to the consultants that we serve. The feeling of inclusivity, especially to a consultant who may feel like a one-person team at times, is a welcome change to their experience. Below are some of the activities we instituted, as well as additional ideas that seek to care for the physical and mental well-being of the employees and consultants we interact with every day.

Yoga Health: Consultants and team members continue to be invited to join in weekly virtual Yoga classes. These virtual classes, led by professional instructors, allow participants to unwind and engage in a physical activity to boost their health and spirits.

Weekly Activity Board Emails: Bi-weekly check-in emails include information about activities, either virtually or those that fall within the guidelines of local social distancing regulations, that can ease stress or provide an outlet. Many local museums are offering virtual tours, community centers are hosting virtual or outside limited seating art classes, and venues are hosting virtual concerts to entertain while we practice health safety. New recipes to try or books to read have been well-received as people look for outlets that don’t require screen time. Be sure to also include children-related activities as they may be helpful to working parents who are doubling as professionals and home-school educators as many school systems are just beginning to resume in-person operational school days.

Additional ideas:
Set Breaktimes: Establish a schedule for remote workers to follow that automatically accounts for much-needed breaks during the day to encourage workers to step away and recharge for a moment. You can also consider altering meeting schedules to accommodate different time zones so that everyone gets a turn at an optimal time for company status calls.

Easy Access to Health Resources: Keep team members’ health top of mind by maintaining a running list of COVID-19 resources for your area. Lists of testing centers, local vaccination information, health department updates, and more, alleviates many steps in accessing this valuable information when it is needed quickly. Also, consider providing a directory that includes area counselors and peer groups to facilitate dialogue and discussion during difficult times.

Family Assistance: The pandemic also taught us that to fully support our workers, we must extend our care to their whole well-being and that includes understanding critical needs in their home life. Colleagues can create meal trains to help those who may be suffering from illness or caring for sick family members. You can also consider “delivery chains” in being able to drop off essentials in times of need to co-workers.

Be Present and Acknowledge
It’s important to remember that a simple “thank you” message for work or exchange of pleasantries either on phone calls, in zoom meetings, or via emails can go a long way in brightening someone’s day. Starting zoom meetings by genuinely acknowledging someone’s effort and holding short Q&As at the end of meeting sessions lets the team know that while they may be out of sight, they are not out of mind.

Being truly present and showing concern for what your team members may be facing will be remembered when stress starts to lift and the return to steadier times becomes more consistent. At Matlen Silver, we try to put everything into perspective when working with our consultants because not everything is always as it seems. Our recruiting experts will have open and honest conversations about work concerns and expectations so that both candidates and clients move forward on the same page. Contact us today at [email protected] and let’s talk.

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