Ryan Bridgman, Sales Director UKIE, North America, Benelux and Global Programmatic Solutions at Jobrapido – the world’s largest job search engine – provides business owners and senior management with some top tips to ensure the wellbeing of remote workers.
Remote working, initially considered as an interim measure during Lockdown, has become a permanent fixture for many organisations. Quite apart from businesses reducing hefty office rents, it’s enabled many more employers to support employees with a better work-life balance – not least ensuring staff members can reduce time consuming and often stressful journeys to and from work.
Yet without face-to-face contact and office camaraderie, some employees could start feeling more isolated or perceive they are not being supported effectively. Whilst on one hand some employers may have concerns whether staff will be putting in the required hours given the fact they are less visible – the flip side is some staff will overcompensate and work excessively long hours as the boundaries between work and personal time become blurred. This may contribute to increased stress levels, burn-out and significant negative mental and physical health conditions.
According to 2022 research from the HSE, over the past two years an estimated 822,000 workers in the UK have been affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety. “Out of sight’ should absolutely not be ‘out of mind’ when it comes to managing remote workers’ wellbeing.
Reinforce what work-life balance means for the company and what provision is available
Business leaders should outline to staff the importance of work-life balance in the company and the impact on this of changing working patterns as a result of remote/hybrid working.
Don’t rely on employees reading the company wellbeing policy in their spare time! More and more organisations are focusing on mental health, however other areas of wellbeing include maintaining social relationships, focusing on physical health as well as financial wellbeing.
Review and be prepared to enhance your organisational wellbeing provision
With staff working in different locations, consider organising employee initiatives dedicated to health and wellbeing. Some examples include:
Programmes to encourage physical fitness (eg a Fitbit or other fitness trackers)
Employee support /access to counselling services
Financial education and support (e.g. access to advice/welfare
loans for financial hardship
Access to physiotherapy and other therapie
Support to stop smoking
Private Medical insurance
Group income protection
Personal accident insurance
Long-term disability/permanent health insurance
Provide line managers with training aimed at pre-empting threats to employee wellbeing
Line managers are in a prime position to pre-empt threats to employee wellbeing, to address risks and to encourage healthy working practices. But it is vital that business owners and senior leadership support managers with the right training and skills – particularly as they are adapting to new remote working practices. Many managers may not be confident to have sensitive discussions and/or signpost employees to expert sources of help when needed, to spot the early warning signs of mental health risks and to take steps to discourage ‘presenteeism’ (working whilst ill).
Make sure your line managers are having regular wellbeing update check-ins
Whilst many teams have regular meetings about work activities and deadlines, line managers should aim to have regular updates to identify any pressures or anxieties over employees’ work and use it as an opportunity to deal with any potential stress points which could be building up. By establishing these check-ins as a regular fixture, it helps ensure that the organisation is approachable and fully supportive about an employee’s wellbeing.
The importance of setting boundaries between work and personal time
Management should lead by example in outlining the need to set clear boundaries between work and personal time. As an example, managers could advise that unless absolutely urgent, emails and other communication should cease after standard working hours, to encourage employees to take full lunch breaks, and also to take regular breaks time from their computer screens.
Finally – do organise regular face to face social events but try not to talk shop
There are many plusses to working remotely however many employees need to feel connected and spend physical time with their colleagues to avoid feeling isolated. Aim to organise work social events (e.g. lunches/dinner, nights out), with the aim of not talking about work!