The importance of engaging with your employees working from home
The 23rd of March is my anniversary, but last year neither my girlfriend nor I remembered the date. Unfortunately, we had more important things to think about that day: our first lockdown of our life and, officially, our first pandemic. With the stress, disbelief and bewilderment, we completely forgot. Also, it seemed little to celebrate anyway.
The economy and most businesses came to a standstill, making us rethink our lifestyle, priorities and future. Companies had to adapt to the new ‘normality’, and employees get used to working from home.
Coping with this situation was not new for most employees; however, working from home daily for months without an alternative common space full of noisy workmates to socialise or without cycling to the office was unusual. And it wasn’t that bad at the beginning. It was kind of funny spending the day with the pyjama on or attending a Zoom meeting wearing a dressing gown.
But I believe no one of us thought at that stage that the situation would last for such a long time. A few weeks ago, it was again the 23rd of March. Another anniversary. We did not forget this time, and we had a relaxed celebration at home. One year had passed since the first lockdown. After the first came a second and a third. There were more restrictions, a few Covid waves and a good number of people too anxious for being at home. Families despair to go back to their previous social life, exhausted of being banned from travelling and sad for being separated from their families and friends for such a long time.
What started as a pleasant experience turned into a nightmare. People were suffering from mental illnesses, distress, anxiety, solitude, estrangement, apathy, or alcohol abuse. Some individuals found it hard to keep a balance between personal life and work: while checking emails, take care of the kids, deal with lunch while running a report about the last customer satisfaction programme, etc. and all this inside the same four walls of the same house and with the same bunch of human beings — day after day.
Those people who can’t disconnect their minds and are exposed to high-stress levels hardly ever tell anybody how they feel for fear of seeming weak or shame. Other times they think they have no time to waste, and it will go away for itself in a matter of time. Sometimes, however, they could trust somebody who is not from their close circle of acquaintances. Or even a stranger. Or their company.
Under this outlook, companies should take actions and put some systems in place to listen to their employees if they are going through difficult times. Employers must be open to care, protect and help out if needed. An easy-running anonym system could be running some surveys periodically and keep a close eye on the responses, tone and comments. Companies could keep the data, have access to it anytime in real-time, and compare the results to the following surveys run to see the evolution in their employees’ feelings and behaviours. Listening to your Employees’ Voice in these uncertain times can be critical and should be a must. Please stand up for your employees’ health, be there for them in these difficult times and stand up against mental illnesses.