HRE’s number of the day: remote workers’ mental health

More than a third of employees working from home report a decline in their mental health. Here’s what that means for HR leaders.
By: | July 6, 2021

More than a third of employees who work remotely say they don’t feel appreciated by their employer and their mental health has declined because of it, according to new data from Promoleaf, a product company that works with employers. Promoleaf surveyed 1,012 U.S. employees who indefinitely work remotely full-time since the pandemic with the goal of better understanding how engaged and appreciated they feel, and what, if anything, they need from their employers.

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What it means to HR leaders

Remote work has been common due to COVID-19. And for the most part, workers report liking the arrangement, with many of them saying they would quitrather than go back into an office full-time.

But remote work isn’t without its challenges: Many employees working remotely say they work longer hours, have little work/life balance and less time to take breaks than they might in the office. And Promoleaf statistics show that 62% of meetings and calls are now impromptu and not scheduled, and half of employees respond to Slack or Team messages within five minutes of receiving them.

“It’s a different kind of energy,” Robin White, Mailchimp’s chief people and culture officer, recently told HRE about the challenges facing remote workers. “It can be draining in some ways. People spend a lot of time on Zoom calls—that’s a different type of focus and energy than if you’re in the office.” As a result, Mailchimp has been trying to address stress and prevent burnout among its workers with extra weeks of paid time off, Summer Fridays and more.

Related: Inside Mailchimp’s burnout strategy: collective PTO, summer hours

The Promoleaf survey also finds that many remote workers do not feel appreciated—in fact, 80% feel their employer could do more to show appreciation to remote workers. It all means that employers and company leaders have more to do in engaging with, and prioritizing, remote workers. If not, experts warn, employees will be more likely to leave for another job.

In addition to recognition, check-ins from managers, mental health help and benefits, the survey finds that employees would also appreciate if their employer would pay for internet service and provide a comfortable chair or other office supplies.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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