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How HR Can Boost Employee Happiness While Working From Home

BrightPlan Team

The COVID-19 pandemic has made working from home mainstream. 71% of employees who are able to perform their work remotely did so, according to a survey conducted in October 2020.  Although many enjoy the flexibility and convenience, there are some downsides to remote work as well. Those working from home have reported a lack of meaningful interactions with coworkers, burnout, and isolation. A recent study found that 1 in 3 adults globally experienced anxiety and depression at some point over the last year.

Leaders and HR teams can do a lot to motivate employees, boost their morale and promote wellness in the workplace―even from home. While engaging employees remotely is not as easy as face-to-face, it’s certainly possible for HR teams that think outside the box.

Here are three ideas to help boost employee happiness and morale:

1. Insights

First, employers need to understand what’s top of mind for their employees. Create opportunities for your employees to speak up through regular check-ins and listen to what they have to say.

With a virtual workplace, HR teams will have to be more creative in gaining an accurate pulse on how their employees’ feel. For example, opt for one-on-one or small group calls instead of just relying on a survey when collecting information. In a remote workplace, a one-on-one video call is the closest thing we have to face-to-face interaction. Employees, especially those who don’t usually speak up in large groups, will feel more comfortable giving honest feedback in a more intimate setting. It’s also easier to dive deeper into insights that would not be as apparent in surveys. Having regular one-on-one conversations with employees, although time-consuming, can lead to quality insights that truly reflect how your employees are doing.

2. Wellness and Balance

The expectation to always be online and available, combined with hours of video calls can lead to employee burnout. As the lines between work and home blur, employers need to establish healthy boundaries to keep their employees healthy and happy. 

Since leadership sets the culture and tone, HR teams can work with company leaders so they reflect strong examples of healthy boundaries. Adopt a “no work on weekends” culture and try to stick with it. Have a reasonable deadline for projects and avoid last-minute work outside of office hours as much as possible. Don’t expect employees to respond to emails after work hours unless something is truly urgent. Offer a company or team-wide mental health day off to avoid burnout. Some companies have had success with a “no meeting day,” a day where everyone can focus on their work without the interruption of meetings. Encourage employees to take breaks during the day to step away from hours of video meetings. Employees who take regular small breaks during the day reported a 30% higher level of focus than those who take no or just one break. Employees who are encouraged by their managers to take appropriate breaks increased their likelihood of staying with the company by nearly 100%.

In addition to evolving company culture and processes to address our new remote work reality, HR leaders can also promote wellness in the workplace by offering workplace benefits focused on employee well-being. According to research from the market intelligence firm IDC, offering benefits such as health and financial wellness programs can enhance the employee experience, and increase productivity and engagement. HR leaders can adapt these ideas to better support their employees and boost their happiness at work.

3. Connection

Remote work makes it harder to connect with colleagues, especially for those that started new jobs after the onset of the pandemic. This lack of connection can be costly for employers. Having a friend at work makes employees seven times more likely to produce better work and deliver excellent customer service.

HR teams can use creative ways to help foster employee connection, boost happiness and promote wellness in the workplace: schedule informal small or large group chats and happy hours. Arrange group activities such as virtual cooking or painting classes with the materials sent to employees’ homes. Experiment with new video call options designed to mimic natural conversations between groups of people. Organize hobby-based groups that encourage employees to express themselves and connect with colleagues.

Remote work has plenty of advantages; however, it’s also likely to take a toll on your employees. We at BrightPlan are big proponents of remote work. We’ve written about our company’s experience moving to a more permanent Work from Anywhere approach in this blog post. When done right, remote work can lead to happier employees even in the midst of a pandemic. Although it may look different for each employer, remote work is here to stay long-term. HR teams will need to find the right virtual work culture for their organization that keeps their employees happy and productive.

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