AccessElite understands the importance of mental well-being support in the workplace. While regular check-ins can be easy in traditional face-to-face environments, supporting mental well-being in a remote-first approach can feel like an impossible task to tackle. While we understand there are many ways to support your employees, AccessElite leaned on the help of Megan Soun Thomsen (she/her), MSW, MTS, a Psychotherapist at Yellow Chair Collective specializing in teen and adult therapy. Yellow Chair Collective is just one of the many providers that AccessElite offers to bring well-being support to workplaces around the country.
Megan provided some fantastic insights into what employers can do to support the mental well-being of their remote workers in today’s space. Let’s see what she had to say.
Question 1: With remote-first work environments becoming the norm, what are some ways employers can support their employee’s mental well-being when they are not physically seeing them in the office every day?
- Create a culture that promotes mental health.
- Encourage conversations around mental health. This can be anything from teaching the signs and symptoms of burnout or simply sharing their own mental health experiences in the workplace.
- Educate and provide employees with mental health resources. There are plenty of free online screening tools that can assess symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression.
- Employers need to participate and be advocates for mental well-being. By employers actively participating in these conversations with their employees, it can help them feel safe to share their own experiences.
- Educate management/leadership on how to recognize and respond to mental health issues. Respond to mental health related issues in their employees in a way that is compassionate and understanding.
Question 2: We understand that burnout and mental health-related leaves of absences are on the rise throughout the United States, what are some signs employers can see to spot burnout patterns?
Firstly, recognize that burnout patterns can vary per person. For example, many people who experience burnout are considered “high functioning” and employers may not notice. However, these are some general burnout symptoms that employers should take note of:
- Change in work performance
- High levels of stress
- Less engagement
- Feeling more tired
- Noticing any changes in employees
Question 3: How can employers be proactive about creating a culture of open communication as it relates to employees’ mental health?
For people to want to participate in these conversations and feel like their employers are being authentic, there has to be some sort of action that correlates. This can be difficult when employees work from home as there can be a lot of blurred boundaries where you feel like there’s no clear distinction between professional and personal life. Employers can model an example of not working outside of set hours and really discourage employees from doing so as well.
Some things employers can do to show their employees they genuinely care about their mental health are:
- Providing mental health resources. Encouraging PTO, supporting mental health days, and transparency about mental health resources being offered by the company.
- Encourage a work-life balance. This can look like encouraging employees to set boundaries, not working outside of scheduled hours, or creating a culture of “being off the clock”. Tell employees to turn off notifications when they’re done with their work day and to not check anything when they are off hours.
- Promote physical health. Things such as gym membership reimbursements or providing ergonomic office equipment to their WFH employees.
Question 4: What are some actionable steps today that remote employees can utilize to help if they are experiencing burnout?
- Start with a check-in. What are the symptoms you’re feeling that could be burnout? If you are experiencing it, communicate this with your colleagues or leadership.
- Taking PTO or vacation time for mental health days.
- Take inventory of what may be leading to burnout. What is causing this? Is it a bad work-life balance? Ask questions to figure out what may be causing the burnout.
- Seek out mental health resources. Seek professional help, find a therapist, or see if your company provides reimbursement or resources for therapy.
If people can take away anything from this conversation, what would it be? The main takeaway would be to allow people to be present with each other in regards to their mental health struggles. Create a culture of caring for people’s mental health. Encourage being present and empathetic to others and yourself; take some time to assess how you are doing. Overall, encourage people to present to their own mental health and to those around them.