With everyone working from home during the coronavirus lockdown, the issue of mental health has never been more important, especially today – the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020.
In these unprecedented times, people are working in isolation from their teams which some may find more challenging than others. So, how can you help protect your teams from any work-related stress or anxiety they may feel?
It’s not necessary to be in constant contact with everyone in your team, but it’s essential that you regularly check in with them, not just for work purposes but also just to chat sometimes. You need to keep up with your team at least daily to ensure they’re OK and to know how they feel about their workload while they’re working from home. It’s also vital you keep up with your one-to-one sessions – employees may not want to talk in front of the whole team, so these will give you a chance to know how your team members really feel.
Regular contact will make it easier to spot any changes in behaviour. Make use of video calling software such as MS Teams or Zoom – it’s as close to face-to-face conversation as you will get.
What to look out for
You can’t expect everyone to be at their peak while working from home – some may be thriving, but others may be unable to keep the same pace.
Continuing to miss deadlines is a sign that someone could be struggling. If they didn’t ask for help when they needed it, they may be taking on more than they can handle, or be feeling some kind of pressure that makes them unable to complete their normal tasks. Gently encourage people to ask for help if they need it, and to voice any concerns they may have – people know when they’re struggling. As a manager try to have a good understanding of common mental health problems and signs to look for – the Mind website is a great place to find out more.
Trust goes both ways
Too much communication can sometimes seem like micromanagement – your team needs to know that you trust them to do their work. It’s better for your own peace of mind as well as theirs to trust them rather than ask what they’re doing more than once a day. If they have a fair level of control over their own workload, they will feel more confident in what they’re doing and how to get it done.
Your team has to be able to trust you, so let them know that you won’t disclose anything personal they tell you – part of your role is to be a confidant – especially if they have to tell you what’s wrong because it directly impacts their work.
Show them how important their mental wellbeing is to you
Ensure that everyone is doing their set hours and no more, to prevent presenteeism, and allow them to separate their time more easily for a better work-life balance. It’s impossible for work and home life to be completely separate, but you should set a good example of not worrying about work outside of your set hours. Long working hours are associated with symptoms of depression.
Point them in the right direction
You may not be a psychologist, but you can still help them find the support they need. If your team comes to you for help, you don’t have to have all the answers, but guide them on how to find the answers to their questions themselves.
Most companies have associated helplines or mental health resources for their own staff. Learn what these are so you know what to do in the event that someone in your team is struggling. These are useful as sometimes your workers may just need someone to talk to about their problems in order to let them go.
Mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing – in a working context it could be even more so. It’s your responsibility to look after your team, especially if their worries are directly connected to work.
If you need more insight on mental wellbeing while working from home, look out for our upcoming mental wellbeing guide, speak to your local consultant who will let you know when this is available.