According to new research, more than half (54%) of HR Managers believe that the extended period of working from home has resulted in an increase of mental health issues such as anxiety, burnout, and isolation, amongst their employees.
The findings come from a survey conducted by LinkedIn, in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, which found that 79% of HR Managers think long term remote working has encouraged a culture of ‘ePresenteeism’. ePresenteeism, derived from the term presenteeism, is where employees feel expected to be online and available as much as possible, even outside of regular working hours or if they are unwell.
Three in five (58%) of the HR Managers also shared concerns that the impact to businesses would be so great that they would lose employees who would be forced to take time out of work due to burnout.
The study went on to survey office workers on what it’s been like for them working from home since COVID-19. LinkedIn reported that 86% felt the need to prove to their bosses that they are working hard and deserve to keep their jobs and almost a third (31%) reported that they are now sleeping badly.
The research went on to highlight that on average, those working from home had worked an extra 28 hours of monthly overtime since lockdown began – an equivalent of almost 4 additional days’ work.
On the flip side however, the study showed that as a result of working from home full-time, 2 in 4 people (44%) said that they feel more connected to their family and over half (54%) would like their employer to give them the option to work from home more when lockdown is over.
How to prevent ePresenteeism in your team
Ensuring your employees aren’t facing unnecessary pressures is vital in getting the most out of your team. During these uncertain times business leaders should try to find new ways to support their staff members wellbeing and here are a few examples to consider.
Banning out of hours emails
Setting rules around working hours is one way of preventing ePresenteeism and ensuring your team have a good work life balance. It might not always be realistic to stop every single late night email, but communicating a ban to staff sends a clear message that it’s okay to switch off in the evenings.
Offering mental health support
If your company has private healthcare already, chances are it includes mental health support. Be sure to communicate this with all of your employees so that they know how to access the service. The free and confidential helplines are ran by counsellors who will offer valuable guidance and support. If your company doesn’t have this already it could be something to look into, at Forward Role we use Westfield Health which is fantastic.
Scheduling regular 1-2-1s
Having regular face time with direct reports is crucial, particularly given the current lockdown measures. Diarise these video calls to avoid them getting forgotten and take the time to discuss any challenges individual employees are having and how they are feeling in general.
Allow flexible working
For those who are juggling work and home schooling or caring for family members, flexible working hours are a big help. Employers should aim to be as adaptable as possible in allowing staff to create their own routines in order to be as productive as possible and avoid burning out.
Promote mental or physical training sessions
Yoga, meditation, hit workouts, running… Whether you try to do one of these sessions together as a virtual team, a great way to feel connected, or you point out sessions that your employees might be interested in doing on their own, there are lots of online classes that will promote positive mental health and get those endorphins going. Be sure to make these sessions optional and if you can allow time in the working day to do them to make them more accessible to everyone.