Nine Signs A Remote Employee Is Struggling With Stress Or Anxiety
March 25, 2021 | Forbes.com
From continuing worries about Covid-19 to juggling work and family responsibilities, almost all of us are experiencing some level of stress right now. When teams are in the office and interacting in person, the signs of significant stress or anxiety are often easily spotted by experienced leaders. However, those same signs can be less obvious when employees are working remotely.
Even when someone is working from home, they still need the support of their leaders and human resources team when they’re struggling, so it’s important to recognize the signs that one of your team members needs relief. Below, nine members of Forbes Human Resources Council share telltale signs that an employee is burdened with anxiety and stress and may need help to get to a better place.
1. Keeping The Camera Off In Video Meetings
Employers should be on the lookout for changes in productivity, attitude and appearance. An example is an employee who usually joins meetings on video but suddenly begins joining off camera. Always be sure to start by discussing any underlying issues and challenges—“I’ve noticed you’ve been joining meetings off-camera recently. Is everything okay? Is there anything I can help with?” - Deborah Muller, HR Acuity
2. Using More Sick Time
The symptoms of burnout or stress in a remote-first world are largely the same as they were in the office: an uptick in sick time usage, missed meetings and deadlines, lashing out, or turning inward. People teams may want to consider setting up a program that encourages managers to check in with their people regularly, even if only briefly, to keep their finger on the pulse of their team. - Tracy Cote, Zenefits
3. Changes In Professional Habits
If John suddenly starts to disable his video in meetings or Jill starts to be unresponsive to team communications, then it’s time to talk with them. Sometimes, super-stressed employees have an unhealthy outlook on caring for themselves. It’s up to leaders to reassure them that we see them and if they need some time, it’s okay and actually encouraged. - Greg Henderson, Whirks
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4. Repeatedly Asking The Same Questions
When people have high stress levels, they tend to not process logic or facts as quickly. The emotional reaction to a response may be stronger and they may look for reassurances in different ways. Asking employees how they feel about something or giving time to process information may help ease some of the stress. - Hafiza Gujaran, AlixPartners
5. Oddities In Their Operating Rhythm
Your talker is quiet. Your quick responder hasn’t replied to an email. Your producer has dipped significantly. Excellent leaders keep an eye out for oddities in operating rhythm, diligently increase communication using multiple formats and actively engage. I wouldn’t say that it’s easy to identify and address human feelings in remote workers; I would say that it’s discernable and actionable. - Jeffrey Pietrzak, Trusted Nurse Staffing
6. Lack Of Engagement In Chat Systems
In a remote work environment, we rely on chat systems for communication. This provides an easy way to see who is engaged and who isn’t. If you notice someone is offline or tending not to engage, reach out to them to see how they are doing. In this always-on culture, it can be overwhelming to be present. - Cat Colella-Graham, Cheer Partners
7. Staying Silent
Silence is deafening! When our people stop contributing, challenging in meetings or responding to emails and start opting out of meetings, we’ve waited too long to address an issue that could be tied to fatigue, burnout or stress. Keeping our people close, checking in, simply asking, “How are you?” and actively listening can be powerful tools, giving visibility into how our people feel. - Maria Miletic, Blue Prism Software
8. Decreased Output Or Work Quality
One indicator of increased stress among remote workers is a detachment from their work, often accompanied by a decrease in work productivity or quality. While this may be harder to spot in new employees, most managers are familiar with the work habits of their team members. A sudden change in attitude toward work or a decrease in the output or quality of work can be early signs that an employee is struggling. - John Feldmann, Insperity
9. Pushback On Deliverables
More stress and anxiety can increase someone’s fight-or-flight response. I suggest watching for a decrease in response or follow-up velocity and/or an uptick in consistent, unwarranted pushback on deliverables. It’s hard to “feel” others’ stress and anxiety while being physically distant, so keep those antennas up. - Bryan Passman, Hunter + Esquire
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