In 2020, companies worldwide had to make a tough decision for their employees’ safety and wellbeing. A rapid transition to remote work meant that employers had to make the best of the resources they had at the time — and many are still trying to catch up.
As we approach the pandemic’s one year mark, it’s increasingly evident that we need better resources for employees working from home. Stress levels remain high and people continue to struggle with juggling work and home life, leading the employers I work with everyday to ask, “What more can we do to support our workforce and ensure they have the tools they need to feel and perform their best?”
The Pros and Cons of Working From Home
Working from home has given employees many benefits and opportunities. Employees can work from the comfort of their home in their sweatpants, move to areas with lower costs of living, and cut down on time spent behind the wheel driving to work. They’ve also developed new videoconferencing skills and learned effective ways to virtually collaborate with coworkers.
However, working from home is new for many employees, and they are struggling with things like work/life balance and isolation from coworkers, friends, and other support systems. Workers are simultaneously grappling with back-to-back Zoom meetings, taking a larger role in their children’s education, and trying to succeed at work.
It’s no wonder our remote employees are stressed, and our employees can’t see an immediate end to that. Unfortunately, quarantine stress manifests in symptoms like headaches, vision problems, and overall aches and pains. Employees are dealing with mental health issues, and younger generations are dealing with the brunt of these mental health problems.
Truth be told, even the most productive and engaged employees are struggling with work during the pandemic. All of this pandemic stress is impacting the work that our employees do in the following ways:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Procrastination and lack of motivation
- Lacking creative inspiration
- Difficulty connecting with clients and colleagues
- Missing meetings and deadlines
Do the negatives outweigh the positives? Maybe so, but they don’t need to.
What are the Solutions to These Work From Home Stressors?
Having worked remotely or on the road visiting clients throughout my career, I’ve had years to hone my approach to balancing work and life. People who suddenly did a 180 haven’t gotten their remote working “sea legs” yet.
Let’s face it, working and living during a pandemic is stressful in its own right, and I’ve struggled in my own way to find the motivation to handle my workload. For instance, it’s been difficult to adjust to not meeting people face-to-face and conducting every professional interaction virtually.
Employees shouldn’t have to cope with this stress alone. Employers can step in to provide solutions. Here are three things you can do to combat stress in your workplace right away — and they are tactics that I’ve seen work effectively for a number of leading organizations today:
Your employees want to be heard. Take time to sit down with your employees and listen to their grievances and hardships. Ignore your instincts to jump in and fix the problem unless they explicitly ask for your advice. Lending an open and receptive ear will build trust with your employees and help them start their problem-solving process.
If you are short on time and you can’t do one-on-one sessions with your employees, consider doing a group session to understand issues in your workplace and brainstorm solutions that your executives and managers can put in place.
The truth is that only 38% of employees feel comfortable seeking employer help during the pandemic. This is an unfortunately low number, and we have to be receptive to employee needs now more than ever.
Lead By Example
When is the last time you took a mental health day, talked about an excellent hike you went on, or shared that you’d be out because you were going to the doctor? Your employees will take your lead on things like time off and general wellbeing.
One of the best things you can do as a leader is publicly talk about your wellbeing journey. These topics shouldn’t be taboo at work. We all generally know that this year has been rough, but it never hurts to vocalize how you’re feeling. We are all in this together and acknowledging just that simple fact can go a long way to helping employees realize that their feelings and challenges are normal.
Incorporate Personalized, On-Demand Technology to Combat Stress and Balance Life-load
Technology has come so far as more employees continue to work from home. There are many personalized, on-demand solutions that can help your employees control their stress levels through practical educational material.
Unfortunately, organizations aren’t doing all they can to provide resources like on-demand wellbeing content. In fact, 46% of companies aren’t providing the on-demand resources their employees need. When employees are taking care of their health and fitness in between Zoom calls and helping kids with homework, we need solutions that can fit their busy lifestyles.
By providing these resources, you can stand out as an employer who supported your staff members during the pandemic — and, critically, into the future. The moniker of supportive employer will come in handy as more vaccines roll out and we begin to imagine what life will look like post-pandemic.
The Bottom Line: Life Is Different, Support Your Employees
We’ve learned so many lessons about the world of work in the last year. Everyone is going through a pandemic together, and it’s scary. Our employees need our support and attention now more than ever. We can do small things (like those I shared in this article) to offer our support and ensure our employees have the resources they need to succeed.