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Remote Employees and Stress: How to Support Them

Heather Smith

Heather Smith

Finding ways to connect with employees about managing their stress levels without seeming like an overbearing HR department can be tricky. Between sending out company surveys and reminding employees of the benefits already available to them, ensuring your remote staff feels supported and secure is crucial to employee engagement and retention. As April is Stress Awareness Month, it’s important to understand where employees can feel stress and what you can do as an HR administrator to support them. 

Easing Departmental Stress

If your company was once an in-office workforce that has gone remote due to the pandemic, it’s evident that many communication tools and styles need to adapt to a remote work environment. Oftentimes, these realizations come after many complaints or whispered frustrations throughout the company. Feeling frustrated by a lack of transparency, oversight of in-office procedures and how they aren’t streamlined for a remote workforce, and an overall feeling of disconnect from the rest of the company are all ways remote employees can feel stress in their day-to-day roles. 

There are some ways to ensure that your employees feel supported during the transition to remote work while making sure the core of your company culture stays intact. Utilizing learning sessions for the entire company to better conduct business in a remote setting can help foster a company culture that can withstand any environmental changes. Adjusting meeting times to fit the schedules of all team members regardless of what time zone they are in can help remote employees feel like valued members of their workplace. Making sure all resources for employees are available online will also help any new remote employees get up to speed quickly and boost their confidence in the company and the way they support remote staff. 

Reducing Financial Stress

Financial problems can have a major impact on productivity in and out of the workplace. When an employee focuses on financial issues, the stress of the situation can negatively impact their workflow and their ability to focus on tasks. Regardless of if your workforce is remote, hybrid, or home-office-based, ensuring your employees have the support they need from you is crucial to ensure their financial stress isn’t impacting every aspect of their job. 

Related: How to Unlock the Full Potential of Your Financial Benefits. Read it here →

Support can come in a variety of ways through your benefits package. Having a financial wellness benefit can make sure your employees receive assistance at whatever level of financial literacy they have. Whether you are a company with a relatively high median age or you find yourself employing many people entering the corporate world right out of college, it’s hard to know where everyone’s financial literacy skills stand. Equipping your employees with the tools they need to understand features in their benefits package such as a 401K or an HSA can make a big difference in the willingness to take advantage of these types of benefits and knowing when to utilize them throughout their life. 

Managing Physical and Mental Health Stress

While there are many positive aspects to working remotely, it’s important to realize its potential to negatively impact your health. Remote work can affect your health on both a mental and physical level, and in many cases, it affects those areas of your health at the same time. Burnout is a serious phenomenon that impacts remote workers at a higher rate than workers within an office space. It is common to recognize burnout long after its onset and, once that fatigue sets in, it has a major effect on performance and productivity as well as aiding in other health-related issues and their progression. 

Employers should ensure their employees have resources related to health and wellness available to them. Offering things like flex time can allow employees to make it to essential appointments or meetings without worrying about using any PTO they were planning to use at a later date. This is especially useful for those quick appointments for things like routine wellness exams, or even monthly appointments with a mental health counselor. Giving employees flexibility with their workday lets them prioritize their health without feeling as if they must make a sacrifice of personal time. 

Providing employees with a wellness benefit promotes healthy habits and can help ward off burnout at the same time. Whether it is a membership to a gym or mindfulness techniques (like meditation), these opportunities allow employees to create and maintain a wellness routine outside of the workplace which can help reduce stress and foster a strong sense of agency over their wellbeing. A wellness benefit provided to remote employees allows them to choose a class or event that best fits their schedule and lifestyle.

Reducing the Impact of External Stressors

 One area that can cause stress that most people don’t consider is family. With their work and home space being under the same roof, creating and maintaining a work-life balance is hard for remote workers. Losing that bit of social interaction they get in an office space leaves employees more time to focus on any struggles they have at home. Between their own mental health to the health and wellness of their families, the stress of their personal worlds can bleed into their ability to concentrate while at work. Understanding that life is full of stressful issues to address is one thing, but providing your employees with some tools to manage those stresses will help impact their productivity and wellness both at work and in life. 

Incorporating an Employee Assistance Program into your wellness benefits will greatly impact your employees and their well-being. These programs can assist in a variety of issues, from mental health, financial literacy, and even legal assistance. Providing this benefit to employees will allow them to tackle their problems head-on and help mitigate the stress they feel because of their personal situations.

When dealing with stressors within the family, it’s also important to note the other major health benefits you can provide, much like HSAs. Giving your employees a breakdown of how they can utilize their HSA for any health-related expense can help reduce any stress from family emergencies or major life events. Employees are often surprised by all that an HSA covers. Whether they have costly and frequent expenses like insulin or they need to order a new pair of prescription glasses from a place like Warby Parker, HSAs can cover a variety of expenses for health and wellness. Knowing that family is a primary focus to employees, having benefits that prioritize taking care of the family unit will help your employees feel that support when they are on or off the clock.
 

Don’t Leave Your Remote Employees Isolated

Stress can have a major impact on your employees and their productivity. Remote employees often keep their stress to themselves, which over time can lead to more problems and burnout. It’s necessary to provide them with tools so they can manage their stress while also keeping an open-door policy to lend an ear to anyone unsure of what to do or who to turn to.

 

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