Managing employee mental health in the post-COVID workplace

Posted by Guckenheimer HQ on 8/19/20
Guckenheimer HQ

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Several months of lockdown and isolation can cause damage to our psychological and mental health. Mental health challenges are expected to be far more commonplace in the post-COVID-19 world, and they can have a significant impact on employee productivity and engagement. As companies discuss the possibilities and solutions associated with re-entering the workplace and welcoming people back, they must consider the stress and anxiety the recent pandemic has put on their workforce.

The connection between mental health and employee engagement

A normal day for many of us who are working from home includes multiple video calls, a quick break to grab lunch and then more video or conference calls that may go past normal working hours, all while multitasking with chores around the house and family time. Some would say the remote life can be straining on work-life balance.

A recent study found that brainwave markers associated with overwork and stress are significantly higher in video meetings than non-meeting work like writing emails due to high levels of sustained concentration, fatigue begins to set in 30 to 40 minutes into a meeting. Looking at days filled with video meetings, stress begins to set in at about two hours into the day. Research suggests several factors lead to this sense of meeting fatigue – having to focus continuously on the screen to extract relevant information and stay engaged; reduced nonverbal cues that help us read the room or know whose turn it is to talk; and screen sharing with very little face-to-face interaction with fellow meeting attendees.

In our recent FM industry insights, the next normal in employee engagement, we focus on the impact the pandemic has had on the workforces’ well-being and how the human cost is an underestimate, unintended consequence of COVID-19. 

 

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Organizations must recognize that the mental well-being of the workforce is paramount in sustaining a healthy workplace experience. We know that happy employees are productive employees, so when preparing the workplace for re-opening, we must focus on creating an environment where people thrive – regardless of where they perform their work. Another reason to take notice of the mental health of employees is that stress and poor mental health can create issues with employee engagement.

 

Implement inspiring workplace experiences 

Corporate real estate and facilities management leaders can develop and implement strong workplace experiences that are no longer just something nice we do for employees to attract, retain or simply increase productivity. Curated experiences in the office and for remote work are our best chance to demonstrate genuine care for our colleagues’ well-being. There are real costs to stress and mental health-related to performance and productivity that can be abated with employee experience programs.

 

Now more than ever, we must be cognizant of the mental stresses on those around us and the very real positive or negative effect our reaction can have on the individual, team, and company.

 

Read on to learn more about elements of a support-oriented workplace experience that maximizes productivity.

 

Emphasizing a flexible work schedule

In the past, most companies required employees to be at their desks Monday through Friday from eight to five in order to successfully fulfill their job duties. In this study, it shows that employees who take part in flexible work schedules feel greater job satisfaction because they have more control over their schedule and work responsibilities.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided not everyone has to be in the office at all times to be productive and a flexible schedule can actually allow employees the ability to complete their job responsibilities while taking care of themselves.

 

Acknowledging the balance of work and life responsibilities simultaneously

By creating a culture and environment that acknowledges the balance between work and life employees will find more job satisfaction. They will be more engaged and productive knowing others understand their responsibilities at home and work are equally important.

 

Creating meaningful relationships

We spend more time at work than at home with your loved ones. Because of this employees expect a greater return on their time investment. People enjoy work when it is with a group of others that they have built meaningful relationships with.

 

But wait... there is more to the workplace experience

Read more about employee engagement in a post-COVID-19 world and other elements of a support-oriented workplace experience that maximizes productivity in our featured insight, the next normal in employee engagement.

 

Topics: Health & Human Performance (Holistic), Employee Engagement, health and wellness, workplace experience

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