Due to the ongoing pandemic, employees are still working from home more than ever. It’s true that working from home offers many benefits, such as flexibility and an increase in morale. However, when combined with the stress of the pandemic and the isolation that occurs with working from home, and the pandemic’s isolating impact, your employees may be experiencing extreme levels of stress. Learn the signs of stress that your employees may show while working from home and how you can work to mitigate the WFH stress for your employees.
Loss of Resiliency
Resiliency is how well an employee handles change and stress, and if they’re encountering a loss of resiliency, you may begin to see signs of that in their work. Forbes lists several signs that indicate a loss of resiliency, including:
Loss of focus in work
Many of these signs that suggest a decrease in resiliency also overlap with other conditions, like work burnout, anxiety, or depression.
How to Mitigate a Loss of Resiliency:
To mitigate a loss of resiliency, work to build resiliency in your remote teams. Try these three steps:
Build a culture of trust and allyship within your remote team.
Create an environment within your team where feedback is welcome and invited.
Strengthen “protective factors” within your team and build a network of social supports.
Outside of your team, encourage your employees to utilize company-wide resources to build resiliency. Many EAP plans and health plans include programs that decrease stress and offer support, which both works to strengthen protective factors and build resiliency.
Remote employees are working more than ever, according to SHRM. They’re putting in more hours each day and working during their “off” time on evenings and weekends. When an employee works from home, they may have difficulty taking a break from their work and transitioning back to their home life. Employees may also feel pressured to appear extra-productive because they don’t have someone watching them over their shoulders.
Overworking, and blurring the line between work and home, can cause additional stress, which leads to a loss of focus at work. This ongoing stress also contributes to conditions like anxiety and depression. Employees could begin to show signs of cognitive changes, such as making mistakes frequently or using negative and emotional language (Forbes).
How to Mitigate Overworking:
Be an example to your employees. SHRM suggests that managers model behavior that reflects clocking out and having “off” time. Be aware of the time zones where your employees work and schedule meetings that are convenient for all of your employees.
Encourage employees to take breaks throughout their day and take time away from their work in the evening and on weekends. Monitor their time through a timesheet and if an employee is overworked, discuss how you can work together to find a solution for their workload—Check-in with employees via surveys or meetings to see if they’re maintaining a work-life balance.
Isolation can breed feelings of loneliness, and isolation is inevitable when working remotely. When compounded with the isolation that is due to the pandemic, employees may be feeling intense loneliness. Employees that feel alone may appear withdrawn and seem less engaged in their jobs.
How to Mitigate Loneliness:
Ensure that everyone has the technology that they need to stay connected while working remotely. An employee without fast internet, a working computer, or a reliable cell phone will feel even less connected than everyone else. Work on ways to increase employee engagement. Give regular and authentic praise to employees.
Give employees tools to reduce their stress and build their social supports to mitigate their loneliness. Check-in with employees virtually, both face-to-face and by anonymous surveys, to determine how they’re handling the isolation that comes with working from home. Offer virtual happy hours and “water cooler” time so that employees have a chance for small talk that they’d typically get in the office.