Be on the Look out for the Subtle Signs of Remote Employee Distress

For most Australians the pandemic worklife has been going on long enough to find some sort of normality in the unpredictability, yet still no one really knows the underlying, long term effects of the stress impact. In an article by The Age newspaper about psychological health of Victorians post pandemic, undoubtedly the most impacted state for restrictions in the nation, they reported that 35% of the population are still experiencing some level of psychlogical stress directly related to COVID 19.

The American Psychological Association predicts the mental health consequences of this pandemic will be severe and long-lasting. Its stress polls show our anxiety skyrocketing.  These record-high levels of stress are attributed to COVID-19 by nearly 8 in every 10 adults. This sends a clear message to employers that the resilence and mental health levels of their employees is of utmost importance, if organisations are to sustain healthy levels of staff engagement.

Resilence levels can often be hard to identify as the nature of employees is performance orientated. This means that individual resilience and coping mechanisms can be hidden under the surface undetected. An erosion or lack of resilience may not be obvious at first, until the coping mechanisms start to give way under ongoing stress and then we see the clear manifestation of people’s imability to carry on.

What are some of the indicators for remote worker distress?

It is easy to notice some of the signs of coping mechanisms starting to drop when you work alongside your colleagues everyday, however not so easy when you are remote. This means that there is a greater need to monitor below the surface and not just assume employees are coping because they tell you they are ok. It can be very difficult for people to admit that they are not coping, particularly in an environment where they feel they need to be strong and reliable. The signs of distress are no different in a physical or a remote environment, just harder to detect.

Subtle Signs of Remote Distress

  1. Increased Mistakes
  2. Disengagement and Contribution Issues
  3. Negative Talk and Overly Critical
  4. Out of Character Sarcasm and Cynicism
  5. Uncharacteristic Emotional Outbursts
  6. Lack of Task Focus
  7. Missing Deadlines.







So What Can You Do?

Listed below are some tips to help support resilience levels, as well as identify possible issues within the team.

  • Regular communication – not just about work, focus on authentic connection.
  • Have regular one-on-ones with your team members to give opportunity to share.
  • Encourage people who are more confident to share about their journey and challenges. This often indirectly encourages others who feel uncomfortable to share in an open environment, that they are not alone.
  • Resilience training can help to invest time in understanding some of the early warning indicators and how to create an effective prevention plan.
  • Ensure people feel valued and appreciated.  Acknowledgement and support goes a long way to restoring emotional strength.

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