New research indicates that a significant proportion of the workforce are experiencing symptoms mental health issues as they live and work from home remotely through the COVID- 19 pandemic. It is important for employers to be aware of warning signs and respond proactively.

Few signs to look out for are

  • Inconsistencies or delays in communication in employees who were more active earlier
  • Often appearing tired/ dishevelled during video meetings; appearing distracted or irritable during calls could signal anxiety.
  • Showing up late to video meetings, missing meetings uncharacteristic of previous performance could signal cognitive changes impacting memory and time management which could be a sign of depression.
  • Working longer hours/ days than usual- Although counterintuitive, some people may try to cope with anxiety or stress by overworking to avoid feelings which can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion.

What can employers proactively do about this?

  • Check in on employees to see how they are doing
  • Offer webinars and talks with mental health experts to educate employees about what signs and symptoms to look out for and when to seek help for mental health issues.
  • Specialist can educate employees about strategies to manage stress, depression, burnout or anxiety which can include:
    1. Having a end of the work day daily ritual that allows employees to “turn off” work mode
    2. Scheduling short breaks throughout the day to take a short walk or mild exercise such as stretch
    3. Keeping a gratitude journal either at the beginning or end of day to foster feelings of positivity
    4. Promoting healthy dietary habits like taking balanced meals on time during the work day
    5. Having access to online digital sessions with research proven techniques to improve mental well-being such as guided meditation programs and breathing techniques
    6. Creating opportunities for social connection in the workplace- virtual events and online communities and support groups
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