Increased isolation, a full house and plenty of virtual meetings: It’s easy to understand the challenges that many remote employees deal with every day. However, it can be more difficult to ensure that they’re taking care of their mental health. Here are 4 tips to help you support employees in a virtual workplace.

Employer Solutions, Coronavirus Updates | 8 months ago

4 Essential Tips for Supporting Employees’ Mental Health in a Virtual Workplace

Increased isolation, a full house and plenty of virtual meetings: It’s easy to understand the challenges that many remote employees deal with every day. However, it can be more difficult to ensure that they’re taking care of their mental health. Here are 4 tips to help you support employees in a virtual workplace.

It can be difficult to stay in tune with your employees’ mental health – especially in our virtual, video-conferencing world. Resources like Atrium Health’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. The EAP provides free, confidential counseling and resources to help employees navigate a range of everyday work-life challenges. Fully supporting employees’ mental health is about making sure they know that resources like the EAP are available – and keeping a few essential tips in mind, too.

Pay attention to the little things.

In a remote work environment, you might not notice obvious changes in an employee’s behavior or a clear decline in job performance. That’s why it can be helpful to look for more subtle signs. For example, is an employee slow to respond to emails or keeping their camera off during meetings? According to Karla Lever, PhD, LCMHCS, CEAP, director of the Employee Assistance Program at Atrium Health, “These behaviors, and a declining job performance in general, are all signs that your employee might be struggling.”

Don’t be afraid to ask an employee how they’re doing.

It’s easy to avoid addressing your concerns about an employee’s mental health. However, according to Lever, we should avoid this impulse.

“It is always appropriate to ask an employee directly how they are,” she says. “If you are concerned about job performance, the conversation can be directed at those physically observed behaviors that are problematic. This often will lead to the employee sharing about their personal struggles, at which point you can direct them to the Employee Assistance Program.” 

Lever also notes that if your concerns aren’t related to job performance, you can state what you’ve observed – without making assumptions or pushing them to talk further. “Do not pry or pressure them to speak with you, but do remind them about their EAP benefit,” she says.

Remember that any employee can be affected at any time.

Mental wellness is an ever-changing balance of everyday factors. The fact that an employee has handled COVID-19 well so far doesn’t mean that they won’t experience challenges related to it in the future.

According to Lever, “People are naturally resilient, but the brain is more equipped to recuperate from acute periods of stress by following them with times of low stress. Since COVID-19 has been a factor for more than 8 months, this has become a chronic time of stress with multiple distressing facets.”

With social isolation and the closing of public gathering places, it’s even more difficult to maintain one’s mental health – which means it’s more important than ever for employers to support employees.

Make sure employees know about virtual mental health resources.

As virtual appointments with mental health providers become more common, there are fewer barriers between employees and the support they need. It’s important to make sure that employees know that mental health resources – like the Employee Assistance Program – are just a click away.

Ready to support your workforce with confidential, easy-to-access mental health resources? Learn more about our Employee Assistance Program. For more information about Atrium Health Behavioral Health services or to request an appointment, visit AtriumHealth.org/BehavioralHealth or call our help line at 704-444-2400.