3 Tips for Managers in Mental Health Awareness Week

The Mental Health Awareness Week arrived in the UK under very different circumstances for businesses this year. As a week that managers often use to gauge the mental health of their teams, and address any issues they may be working through, the sudden shift in working patterns has disrupted this practice for many at a time when staff might be needing support the most.

Working face-to-face with your employees, it can be easier to pick up on vocal or body language cues when someone may need support. There can be signs of burn-out, fatigue or lack of engagement. But when working remotely, managers and organisations need to be extra cautious to check in on team members, and be available to address any issues they have.

Before it becomes a problem however, employers can help prevent and mitigate the effects of overworking and stress on employees. Here are three strategies for effectively helping a remote team to improve their mental wellbeing:

Recognise the warning signs

Stress can manifest itself in a number of ways, including decreased satisfaction and commitment, lower productivity, increased personal conflicts, and a desire to disengage and disconnect. Employees may feel like they can’t admit they are burned out because it feels like a personal shortcoming or shows a lack of commitment. To get around this issue, astute managers will pay attention to changes in employees’ attitudes which may indicate a deeper issue. In a remote environment, this may mean explicitly asking employees about their mental state.  This can include, for example, encouraging connections beyond work matters.

Take something off their plate

High performers are high performers for a reason – they take on a lot, and accomplish a lot. But eventually, even the most productive person can reach a breaking point. Recognise any early signs of stress, and relieve your busiest workers of certain roles or duties that can be reassigned. Everyone has a finite amount of hours in the day, and productivity without burnout requires strategic cutting back on the activities that consume energy.

Show Optimism

If managers show optimism, their teams will too. As an article in Harvard Business Review shared, optimism is powerful and contagious. Attitude starts at the top and can set the tone for a difficult project or a remote team that needs positive encouragement. Leaders who demonstrate hopefulness and confidence in the future are better able to help their team members find meaning and purpose in work, especially under stressful conditions. Using humour can be a useful mechanism to relieve tension and foster greater commitment from teammates.

For more resources you can access through this period, check out our Accessing Mental Health Support During COVID-19 infographic and see the tools available to you.