Are You Supporting Your Team’s Well Being?
Post by: Arianna Campbell, Director
In early 2020, before the arrival of COVID-19 in the U.S., nearly 7 million people (3.4% of the population) were working remotely. Now, as we’re more than halfway through the year, that number has grown by leaps and bounds. It’s an acceleration of a trend that was already happening, and remote work is here to stay for many professionals and firms.
According to Accounting Today, 88% of firms with 50 or more full-time employees are planning to allow people to work from home permanently. But now that we’re settling into the “new normal” of remote work, many firms realize they need to adapt their processes for their new way of working.
Process is a top challenge
When offices closed and firms sent their employees to work from home last March, we noticed a trend. There was a lot of emphasis on checking in with people, asking how they were doing, and checking how people were juggling workloads, pandemic fears, family responsibilities and more.
To some extent, that focus on employees’ well being subsided as people settled into the routine of working from home or headed back to the office on a full- or part-time basis. But now is not the time for leaders to assume people are doing well. In fact, we should be even more concerned. Our team members have been enduring a different life for a while – with aspects of work and life that they perhaps feel like they didn’t sign up for.
Mental health matters
In March, crisis management was the name of the game. Firm leaders wanted to protect their teams while ensure they had the communication, technology, and support to work remotely. But crisis management looks a lot different from sustaining those efforts for the long haul.
A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. employees who have been working from home since March found that:
4 out of 5 employees said they find it challenging to “shut off” from work in the evenings
Over half of employees have not taken a “mental health day” since they started working from home due to the pandemic
44% of employees have not taken a single day of vacation since they started working from home
Over 50% of said their sleep patterns have been negatively impacted due to the social effects of COVID-19
39% reported feeling less healthy physically, and 45% said they feel less healthy mentally since working from home
80% said they would consider quitting their current position for a job that focused more on employee mental health
Supporting your team’s well being
So how can leaders ensure that they’re helping their teams during these unusual times?
1. Understand every experience is different
First, there’s no one-size-fits-all plan for supporting employees. Every person’s experience is unique. Some might be thriving working remotely, while others never wanted to be virtual and miss being in the office with their coworkers. Some people have different dispositions and personality traits that enable them to adjust quickly to remote work. Others might need to put in more effort.
The trouble is, it might not always be easy to tell who is struggling and who is thriving. Some of your most productive employees might have difficulty separating life and work, working ‘round the clock without downtime, which will ultimately lead to burnout.
One firm leader I spoke to recently told me they’d discovered an employee was working late into the night because she didn’t want her coworkers and managers to know she also had to homeschool her children. Her team would have supported her if they’d known her school plans changed.
Don’t simply assume that if you haven’t heard from someone, everything is ok. Check on people regularly and make that connection. Your support needs to be individualized, so ask people what they need.