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5 Ways You Can Help Your Employees Combat Loneliness During Work In Isolation

5 Ways You Can Help Your Employees Combat Loneliness During Work In Isolation

In the cinematic universe of the working world, its people are currently accomplishing their tasks from home. As more and more offices have called for onsite work, the question people have on their minds is if the WFH (or its flexible arrangement deviations) will still push through.

Despite that, there is also a downside to working from home that some employees have pointed out. They call it “work from home loneliness.” This phenomenon is brought about by working in the confines for a long time. While this may mostly affect people who are living alone, people who live with families can experience this too. 

But just how bad is work from home loneliness anyway–and how can you take steps to help your employees?

How working from home affects mental health

Working at home may have given people more leeway to attend to other matters during the day. But constant and consistent isolation contributes to loneliness, the biggest deterrent to mental health. Results of a study by mental health firm, MindNation showed that 53% of Filipinos constantly worry about health risks and financial pressures.

A deeper dive into that study showed that because of the negative effects, 13% of respondents filed for more sick leaves. On the other hand, 35% declare a downgrade in their mental health. Manifestations of this downward dip include loss in focus and motivation and lowered self-confidence. 

The biggest cause behind this is because the “boundaries between personal life and work are blurred.” Despite being at home, employees are working more than they were onsite. They clock in more hours, find themselves writing up tasks during the weekends, and being more accessible to their company. 

Even if return-to-work anxiety exists, this type of loneliness can be taxing. From missing the company in the office to having your home as a respite, the reasons that lead to experience this are numerous. 

How do you help employees deal with WFH loneliness?

As an employer, your first response will always be to help your employees. But caring for your people goes beyond salary. In fact, our Decoding Global Talent report shares that good work-life balance places third on employee job preferences. You may not be able to totally rid their bouts of loneliness, but you can ease their burdens a little. 

Here are five tips to help them fight the feeling:

  1. Proactively reach out to your employees This may be the easiest thing to do and the primary thing you can do to help them out. Working from home can be isolating for some, especially if they live alone. What you can do is to do a weekly check-in and ask them about how things are going. Should you wonder about how personal your questions can go, it depends. Ultimately, you can gauge your relationship with your employee and see if you can delve deep into certain issues. You can skip the shop talk here unless they open up to you about certain stressors relating to work. You can even opt to skip the usual phone call and go for a video call if that works for both of you. Providing a face to the voice can make them feel like they have company around, even if it is just through the screen.

  2. Refresh and clarify work expectations While the working world clock does not stop ticking, old methods have an expiration date. Your employees still understand what their job descriptions are and what they have to deliver, but the environment has shifted. They made a space in their home to accomplish work. So with that said, you can set a meeting with your employees and revisit certain work expectations that fit the climate. If you are wondering whether things will go back to the way they are, it is a mixed bag. Business Mirror shares that although professionals prefer to work from home, the restrictions easing say otherwise. Most employees will still have to go back to onsite work. However, it is still dependent on your company and the pace of the country regarding offices. Considering such an option can also give you that extra push to refresh your expectations. For instance, keep work-life balance top of mind. Even if their computers are within reach, weekdays are for work, weekends are for rest. Set clear boundaries and do not overstep them. An example of overstepping would be to extremely micromanage, which can have a deterring effect on your employee’s well-being.

  3. Show your appreciation There is no better feeling than hearing your superiors praise you for your work. But working at home adds a (sometimes) desolate feeling, which can contribute to your employees’ de-motivation. You do not have to hand out gold stars every waking minute, but a good word goes a long way. It could be as simple as sending an email or giving a quick announcement during a meeting. Appreciation is a form of care after all, and helps provide an uptick to your employee morale.

  4. Check for employee burnout signs

    If your employee openly communicates with you, this should be no problem. But some of them prefer to keep mum. So if they do not offload anything on you, you can assess them based on these common factors:

    • Fatigue

    • Constantly getting sick

    • Consistently making mistakes

    • Always late for deadlines

    • Decreased productivity

    • Drains their sick leave bank (for reasons other than actual illness)

    When you spot any of these, reach out to them immediately. You can even set a meeting and ask them if they need extra support.

  5. Apply your company values

    Take the time to look back on your mission and vision. More importantly, take a peek at your company values. What do they say and do your actions walk with your talk? A good company makes sure they take care of their employees just like their customers. After all, your people are your internal clients. So how do you put this into action? It could be

    for your employees to have. You can also have your employees share critical mental health hotlines:

    • Department of Health’s National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotlines:

      • Luzon-wide hotline: 1553

      • Globe and TM: 0917-889-8272 and 0966-351-4518

      • Smart and Sun: 0908-639-2672

    • Natasha Goulbourn Foundation:

      • Landline: (02) 804-4673

      • Mobile: 0916-558-4673

      • Globe and TM: 2919 (toll-free)

    Maybe it is finally having a good set of HMO plans or health insurance packages for their health benefits. It could be reviewing flexible arrangements to suit the types of employees you have. Circling back to what you believe in can help you become a good example for your employees. What starts at the top trickles down to the bottom. Practice what you preach. (Also read: 5 COVID-19 Vaccination Guidelines Every Employer Needs To Know)

Work-from-home loneliness is one of the unfortunate effects of a remote setting. It is best to help your employees along with certain steps of the way. You do not have to be their superhero. But having a listening ear can make a world of difference. This is where you can show that you truly and genuinely care. 

Ensure that you are present for your employees. Do not be there just for their work goals, but for their personal well-being as well. They will appreciate you for that. 

Use Talent Search to access the largest talent database in Southeast Asia and find the best candidate for the job. 

For more advice and insights on how you can adapt your business to face today’s challenges, visit Inspirations.

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