How to support your remote team's mental health and well-being

Supporting your remote team's mental health and well-being is essential for maintaining productivity and morale in today's remote workplaces. But how can managers prioritise this, and what strategies can be put in place?

12th May 2024

In a global survey conducted by UKG’s Workforce Institute, it was found that 69% of employees said their managers have the greatest impact on their mental health – a statistic that matched the influence of their partners or spouses, and surpassed that of doctors or therapists. One in three employees also stated that their managers failed to recognise the impact that they have on their team’s mental well-being.

These findings show just how important a role managers play in supporting the mental health of their teams, and this is especially true in today's remote workplaces. Managing a remote team presents unique challenges; it can be harder to spot signs of someone struggling when you're not in the same physical space, and the dynamics are different from traditional office settings.

In this blog, we'll share practical strategies and tips to help managers create a supportive and inclusive remote work environment that prioritises the mental well-being of their team members. Let's get started!

What are the benefits of supporting your team's mental health?

The mental health of your team is important for their well-being and the success of your organisation. It directly influences productivity, performance, and job satisfaction. Here are some benefits of prioritising your team's mental health.

  1. Enhanced employee well-being and engagement: Supporting mental health in the workplace significantly contributes to employee well-being and engagement. When employees feel valued and supported in their mental health, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. They experience higher job satisfaction and are more committed to the organisation. This leads to a positive work environment where employees thrive, both personally and professionally.
  2. Increased productivity and performance: Investing in mental health support results in increased productivity and performance. Happy employees are 13% more productive, focused, and innovative in their roles. They can handle challenges more effectively and are better equipped to come up with creative solutions. This heightened performance benefits the organisation as a whole, leading to improved outcomes and results.
  3. Reduced costs and turnover: Supporting mental health also brings financial benefits by reducing costs and turnover. In a recent study it was revealed that 78% of workers would quit due to high stress. By investing in mental health resources and support, companies can lower absenteeism rates, decrease turnover, and mitigate the associated costs. Additionally, fostering a mentally healthy work environment enhances employee retention rates, saving on recruitment and training expenses. This creates a positive cycle where employees feel valued, leading to increased loyalty and reduced turnover.

10 ways to support your teams mental health and well-being

1. Prioritise regular check-ins and openly communicate

One of the most important things you can do as a manager is to maintain regular check-ins with your remote team members. Schedule one-on-one meetings not only to discuss work-related matters, but also to get an idea of your employees overall well-being. It’s important to have a safe space for them to share any concerns or challenges they may be facing. 

You want to make your team feel comfortable enough to discuss their mental health at work without fear of judgement or repercussions. Be an active listener, demonstrate empathy, and offer support and resources when needed.

Here are some ways you can do this:

  1. Ask your employees when they would prefer to have catch ups and how often.
  2. Make sure you're on time for meetings, give notice if you need to reschedule, and minimise cancellations.
  3. Create a safe environment by encouraging open communication, actively listening to employees, and offering support and resources as needed.

2. Promote work-life integration and boundaries 

Remote work can blur the lines between personal and professional life, making it challenging for employees to disconnect and recharge. As a manager, it's important to promote a healthy work-life balance and encourage your team to set clear boundaries. 

Respect your team's working hours and avoid sending non-urgent messages or emails outside of their designated work time. Encourage them to take regular breaks, use their annual leave, and prioritise self-care activities. Model healthy behaviour by setting boundaries for yourself and avoiding the temptation to work around the clock. Understand how your team works. At Flexa we use ‘Manual of Me’ to share how each team member works best, so we can understand and be respectful of each other’s needs. 

3. Organise team days and virtual sessions 

Remote work can sometimes feel isolating, as team members miss out on the daily social interactions and casual conversations that occur in a physical office. To overcome these feelings of loneliness and disconnection, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to create social connections and team bonding. 

Organise virtual team building activities, such as online games, coffee chats, or happy hours, to provide opportunities for informal interactions and relationship-building. Encourage the use of communication channels like Slack or Microsoft Teams for casual conversations and water cooler talk. At Flexa, we have a weekly session where we take time out of our day to play a virtual game or take part in an activity. It’s a good way to get the team to switch off for an hour and have some fun!

4. Provide access to mental health resources and support 

Make sure that your remote team members have access to mental health resources and support services, such as employee assistance programs (EAPs), online therapy platforms, or well-being allowances. Communicate these resources regularly and make sure your team knows how to access them confidentially. 

Consider offering mental health days or flexible time off for employees to prioritise their well-being without the stigma or guilt often associated with taking time off. Encourage your team to use these resources proactively and normalise the conversation around mental health in the workplace. 

5. Promote physical well-being

Physical well-being is closely linked to mental health. Encourage your team to prioritise physical activity, healthy eating habits like remembering to have lunch, and proper ergonomics in their home office setup – whatever that looks like for them. 

Share resources on setting up an ergonomic workspace, such as guides on proper desk height, chair adjustment, and screen placement. Organise virtual fitness challenges or group yoga sessions to promote physical activity – or even just encourage people to take time away from their desks and get out for a walk. 

6. Recognise achievements and celebrate successes 

In a remote work environment, it's easy for achievements and successes to go unnoticed. Make a conscious effort to recognise and celebrate your team's accomplishments, both big and small. 

Create a system for sharing wins and milestones, such as a dedicated Slack channel or a virtual kudos board. Publicly acknowledging and appreciating the hard work and contributions of your team members will foster a sense of pride and belonging. Our Flexa ‘Kudos’ channel is the perfect way for us to celebrate the team’s big and small wins!

7. Embrace flexible working and adapt to individual needs 

Every team member has unique circumstances, preferences, and needs when it comes to their mental well-being. Embrace flexibility and be willing to adapt your management style to accommodate individual requirements. 

Some team members may thrive with more autonomy and independence, while others may benefit from more frequent check-ins and guidance. Be open to adjusting work schedules and communication styles to cater to the diverse needs of your team. 

8. Lead by example 

As a manager, your actions and behaviours set the tone for your team. Lead by example and prioritise your own mental health and well-being. Be transparent about your self-care practices, share your own struggles and coping strategies, and encourage your team to do the same.

When you demonstrate a genuine commitment to mental wellness, you create a culture where it's okay to prioritise self-care and seek support when needed. Your team will feel more comfortable following your lead and taking proactive steps to manage their own well-being. 

9. Provide opportunities for learning and growth 

Personal and professional growth is closely linked to mental well-being. Provide your remote team with opportunities for learning, skill development, and career advancement. Invest in online training programs, workshops, and conferences that align with their interests and goals. 

Encourage knowledge-sharing and peer-to-peer learning within your team. Create space for discussions on industry trends, best practices, and innovative ideas. When your team members feel supported in their growth and development, they are more likely to feel fulfilled and engaged in their work. 

10. Regularly gather feedback 

Supporting your remote team's mental health is an ongoing process that requires regular feedback and adjustment. Create channels for your team members to provide anonymous feedback on their well-being, the support they receive, and areas for improvement. 

Use this feedback to refine your approach, look at areas where additional support is needed, and continuously work on your strategies to meet the changing needs of your team. Be open to trying new initiatives, learning from successes and failures, and adapting to the unique challenges of remote work. 

Creating a culture of well-being in the remote workplace 

Supporting your remote team's mental health and well-being is not a one-time initiative, but an ongoing commitment to creating a positive and inclusive work environment. By prioritising open communication, promoting work-life balance, fostering social connections, providing access to resources, and leading by example, you can build a culture that prioritises the well-being of every team member.

Remember, investing in your team's mental health is not only the right thing to do, but also a smart business strategy. When your team members feel supported, valued, and mentally well, they are more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal to your organisation. 

Spotlight on: Impression Digital

Impression Digital, a Flexified company, share how they support employees with mental health and well-being.

“We focus on creating a communicative culture so our employees feel comfortable letting us know when they need support. Our managers benefit from regular mental health training to spot the signs and be able to signpost to appropriate methods of support. From weekly check-ins which ask employees to communicate where they’re sat on the mental health continuum, weekly 121s and our ‘My Manuals’ which support communicating your mental health needs to the rest of the company – there are so many avenues to communicate your needs.

Sometimes, we all need some extra support. At Impression, we encourage our employees to utilise our sickness policy, 40 days at full pay and 40 days at half pay, when they need to prioritise mental well-being. We also encourage employees to use Impression-funded therapy sessions with Helloself and financially support privately funded sessions. Connecting with others in our shared experience of mental health is important. We run annual ‘Men’s Health/Women’s Health Brunches’ and promote conversation in our ‘Well-being’ chat room to ensure there is always a safe space”

As a manager, you have the power to make a significant impact on the mental well-being of your remote team. Together, you can create a remote work environment that thrives on mutual support, trust, and a shared commitment to mental wellness.