Mental health difficulties aren’t personal problems that employees can deal with off the clock. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues have far-reaching effects. Workplace stress compounds these issues, which can lead to burnout, poor productivity, and absenteeism. Here are some of the benefits companies reap when they support employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing:
- Employee motivation and productivity improve. Depressed, stressed, or burnt-out employees don’t perform to the best of their ability. Their work quality may suffer, or they may finish significantly less work than usual. Employees that feel supported by their employer are happier and more productive.
- They attract top-tier talent. Employees talk, and the internet is rife with company workplace reviews. Businesses that show they care about their employees’ wellbeing attract highly qualified candidates for open positions, which gives them an edge on the competition.
- Employees are more loyal. The modern workplace experiences a much higher rate of employee turnover than it did in previous decades. Employees change jobs for several reasons, and many are outside their employers’ control. For example, employees may quit because their spouse’s job requires them to move, or they may quit because they want a shorter commute. However, employers can control their company culture. Employees are less likely to look for a new job if they’re happy and feel supported by their company.
- They have a better reputation. A company’s reputation goes beyond how employees feel about their employer. Consumers want to support companies that take care of their employees, and they will take their business elsewhere if they believe an organization doesn’t treat its people with compassion.
- Employees take fewer mental health-related absences. Employees that struggle with mental health issues are more likely to take sick days. Their mental health symptoms can make it impossible to work or siphon away their motivation. Companies that offer mental health support for their employees help cultivate a happier work environment. Happier and less-stressed employees are much less likely to call out of work due to their mental health.
Employee absenteeism is rarely random or without cause. If employers notice a once-reliable employee is arriving late, leaving early, or not showing up at all, that employee may be suffering from mental health challenges. Offering mental and emotional wellness support can reverse the absenteeism trend. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about preventing absenteeism in the workplace.
COVID forced many businesses to transition their workforce from the office to a remote setting. Employees and employers alike had to adjust to and overcome the challenges of working virtually. With more of the country receiving the vaccine, company leadership needs to consider the difficulties of shifting their employees back to a physical office.
Most employees adapted quickly to working from home and came to embrace the benefits. They have more flexible hours, no commute, and can wear whatever they please. Working from home also gives employees peace of mind knowing they’re reducing their exposure to germs and risk of infection.
The following are several tips to help employees switch back to a traditional working environment:
- Plan for a staged re-entry. COVID didn’t give employees much time to adjust to remote work. Many had to assemble a workspace and purchase office equipment without notice. Others had to figure out how to work from home with the distraction of other working adults, kids attending virtual school, and so on. Employers have the luxury of time to plan a staged return to work to avoid an abrupt transition.
- Offer mental health support. Government studies show that 40% of adults struggle with mental health issues due to COVID. Isolation, loneliness, and anxiety cause significant stress and have a negative effect on employees’ health. Offering mental health support can give employees resources to cope with their stressors. Offering flexible schedules can reduce anxiety for employees who have children attending virtual school or have high-risk individuals living with them.
- Explain the benefits of returning to the office. Many businesses discovered their employees were just as productive working from home as they were when working in the office. Employees know this too and may hedge at returning to the office if they don’t see the point. However, isolation stymies creativity that flourishes when employees collaborate. If a company doesn’t differentiate from the competition or produce new ideas, it’ll lose its relevancy. Employees may find themselves out of a job as a result.
- Be transparent about safety protocols. It’s not enough for businesses to reassure their employees that their health and safety are top priorities. Employees need to know what steps their companies are taking for them to feel safe to return. For example, companies can share their details for advanced cleaning protocols, maintaining virtual meetings, and other strategies to limit exposure.
- Allow for flexibility. If employers force their employees back into the office too quickly, they’re likely to have a significant attendance problem. The fallout of COVID is still complicating employees’ lives, and they need the flexibility to manage childcare, care for elderly or sick family members, etc. Consider allowing employees to work from home a few days per week to help them balance their work and home life responsibilities as they reacclimate to a traditional office environment.
COVID forced many companies to find creative solutions to remain in business. A successful return to the workplace hinges on understanding employees’ needs and embracing flexibility during the transition. However, employers still need to track attendance and address any troubling trends. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our absence tracking mobile app can help your business as you transition back into the office.
With several states seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, many businesses are opting to have their employees continue working from home. However, while working from home has significantly fewer risk factors for spreading COVID-19 than working in an office setting does, it’s not guaranteed employees won’t become sick.
Common Risk Factors in Employees Homes
Even if a company’s employees are telecommuting, this doesn’t mean the rest of their households are as well. Spouses or adult children still living at home may have jobs that don’t allow them to telecommute. These individuals may bring illness home with them (COVID-19 or otherwise) that then may infect remote workers. Telecommuting employees still need to go out as well to pick up groceries, prescriptions, and more, which increases their risk profile of contracting COVID-19.
4 Steps to Keep Remote Employees Healthy
Employers should encourage their employees to utilize the following best practices to stay as healthy as possible during the pandemic:
- Sterilize common household surfaces. Alcohol is the great equalizer when it comes to viruses. With the proper application and concentration, employees can kill 99.99% of germs lingering on surfaces everyone touches. This can help prevent the accidental surface spread of illnesses among household members. The most effective alcohol-based cleaners have a concentration of at least 70% alcohol.
- Condense grocery trips whenever possible. Prior to COVID-19, making a quick trip to the store for a forgotten item didn’t pose major health risks. Now, unnecessary exposure in crowded places increases the likelihood of falling ill. Utilizing grocery pickup or delivery services can significantly curtail this source of exposure.
- Wear a mask when out in public. While hotly debated in some places, wearing a mask out in public is the easiest way to prevent the spread of contagion. This is particularly important if employees are visiting places where sick people congregate such as the pharmacy or at a doctor’s office. Wearing a mask is also a good reminder to avoid touching the face while out in public, as the mouth, nose, and eyes are common entry points for viruses.
- Wear gloves when out in public. Many people know that door handles, grocery carts, and other surfaces touched by dozens if not hundreds of people each day are likely sources of germs. However, not many stop to consider the produce and products they touch while at grocery stores. Several people have likely handled those items and wearing disposable gloves can cut down on the spread of germs.
While employers can educate and train their employees on the best practices to stay healthy during the pandemic, it’s impossible to safeguard against every risk. In the event that employees fall ill, employers will need a simple solution to keep track of absences and leave requests from their remote workforce. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our absence tracking mobile app can help your business.
With cold and flu season well underway, many employers are keeping a wary eye out for the telltale sniffles and sneezing that precede an office-wide breakout of illnesses. While workplaces can take several steps to reduce the likelihood of spreading germs, germs linger in several sneaky places. Without addressing these areas, employees can begin to fall ill and not understand why. The following are some of the biggest sources of germs that hide in plain sight:
- Kitchen faucets. Everyone knows that office bathrooms are breeding grounds for disease as multiple people touch the door handles, faucet knobs, and towel dispensers. As a result, employees take more precautions in this high-traffic area. However, they rarely give the same attention to kitchen faucets. If the office has a breakroom or a kitchen area with a sink, it can be a breeding ground for germs.
- Cellphones. People use their phones more than ever and it’s become a Petri dish employees carry with them everywhere they go. Hands and mouths are the most common human sources of germs and both interact with phones on a regular basis. If employees pass around phones to share ideas or socialize during lunch, they could be spreading illness without realizing it.
- Gym equipment. Many workplaces offer access to onsite gyms or gym memberships to their employees as part of a wellness program. While exercise improves the immune system, gyms house a lot of germs that aren’t often correctly dealt with in a timely manner. While gym-goers should wipe down equipment before and after use as a standard of etiquette, a wet towel isn’t enough to disinfect it.
- Money. Employees go out for lunch or have meetings with clients over coffee all the time. During these interactions, they’re going to exchange cash, coins, or cards with the wait staff. Even if the restaurant requires employees to wash hands, there is no accounting for where money has been or whose hands it passed through.
Identifying the hidden sources of germs allows employees to take steps to prevent falling ill or spreading disease throughout the workplace. Frequent hand washing, keeping hand sanitizer close by, and avoiding touching the mouth, nose, or face can all help reduce an office-wide flu pandemic. If your workplace is struggling with illness and frequent absences, the experts at Actec can help. Contact us to learn about how our absence management system can reduce absenteeism and improve other elements of employee attendance.
Absenteeism is a significant cause for concern among employers in all industries. If employees call out of work abruptly on a regular basis, it can cause considerable disruption to productivity and morale as well as hurt businesses’ bottom line. However, there are often underlying causes for absenteeism and one of the most common is bullying.
While bullying on the schoolyard is often easy to identify, adults don’t resort to pushing, name-calling, and other child-like methods of pushing people around. In the workplace, bullying looks quite different and employers need to keep an eye out for it if they suspect employee mistreatment is triggering unplanned absence.
The following are some behaviors and patterns that may indicate a company has an office bully:
- Intimidation. It’s management’s job to keep employees on task and on schedule, but there is a difference between encouragement and using overt or veiled threats to accomplish the job.
- Ignoring. This can manifest as failing to greet certain individuals while interacting with everyone around them or as purposefully “forgetting” to invite them to relevant meetings.
- Undermining work. This often occurs when management or a fellow employee prevent another individual from progressing on a project or impeding his or her ability to succeed. This can also manifest as giving away promised projects to other team members.
- Taking away responsibilities. When employees are overwhelmed with too much work, it’s not uncommon to redistribute some of their less important tasks. However, forcibly removing primary work from an employee without cause is often a form of bullying.
- Impossible or shifting deadlines. This is the reverse of the above. Oppressive managers or supervisors set the employee up to fail by assigning too many tasks on an unreasonable timetable or change priorities without notice.
- Extreme criticism. Impossible to please team leaders, supervisors, or managers are often workplace bullies. They fail to recognize a job well done in favor of pointing out flaws, real or perceived.
- Taking credit. This is usually seen in superiors that take complete credit for their subordinates’ ideas or work without offering any recognition.
- Over the top flattery. While this may seem pleasant at first, it’s often a tactic to soften employees to manipulation. A boss who is always crowing an individual’s praises may be preparing to ask for excessive and unreasonable requests of that employee.
Bullying behavior is rarely overt so employers need to be vigilant and implement policies to allow for confidential reporting as well as establish clear guidelines for conduct in the workplace. If you’re concerned about absenteeism, implementing an absence reporting program can help identify trends. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how we can reduce absenteeism in your workplace.
With fall well underway, employers should take steps to keep the flu and other illnesses as far from the office as possible. While it may be impossible to block it entirely, taking steps to contain germs can help prevent a staff-wide outbreak of diseases. When employees fall ill, it disrupts productivity and can tank workplace morale as projects fall behind and staff members continue to get sick. The following steps can help employers keep their workforce healthy during cold and flu season:
- According to the CDC, one of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of the flu is to encourage employees to receive the vaccine. Clinics and pharmacies often offer them free of charge or for a very small fee if employees can’t make it to their doctor’s office during normal business hours. Some employers even host vaccine clinics at their own office to make it as simple as possible for employees to receive flu vaccinations.
- Employers should look over their leave policy to ensure it encourages employees to stay home when ill. Employees who fear disciplinary action if they call out when ill are likely to come into work when they’re still contagious and infect other employees. Sick leave policies should make note that employees should wait until their fever is gone for a full 24 hours without the aid of medicine before returning to work.
- Employers should instruct sick employees to return home, including those who become symptomatic partway through the day. Keeping sick employees away from an otherwise healthy staff can prevent a workplace flu pandemic.
- Provide resources to allow staff to engage in preventative action. Keeping the office well stocked in tissues, trashcans, hand soap, and hand sanitizer can reduce the spread of germs. Providing handouts or flyers with reminders and tips on respiratory etiquette and good hygiene can help as well.
- Provide resources and education materials about employees who are at higher risk for severe health complications if they contract the flu. For example, pregnant women, individuals with asthma or other chronic lung conditions, diabetics, and so on can experience serious difficulties if they catch the flu. Employers should encourage vaccination, particularly for these high-risk individuals, as well as instructing them to seek early medical attention if they start to show signs of the flu.
Taking the above steps to keep the office free of germs and disease can help prevent or, at the very least, reduce the number of flu cases in the workplace. Keeping employees healthy is vital to maintaining good attendance and keeping productivity on track. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more ways to reduce employee absences.
Many individuals suffer from seasonal allergies; however, for some, it’s a debilitating issue that can be hard to manage. With up to 30% of Americans suffering from allergies, it’s one of the top three reasons employees call out of work. It’s worth the time involved for employers to try and reduce allergens in the office as it improves productivity and employee well-being as well as reduces absences due to allergies.
The following are several steps employers can take to help the allergy sufferers in the building:
- Smart workspace arrangement. Many individuals suffer from pet allergies, with dogs and cats being the most common. When deciding where to place various workstations, keep these individuals in mind and avoid seating them next to a pet owner.
- Stay on top of filtration needs. Pollen infiltrates a building through obvious sources such as opening and closing exterior doors and windows. However, a robust air filtration system can help combat this. Changing air filters often can also help address this issue.
- Manage dust mites. Dust mites are among the most common allergens found in houses. Unfortunately, it’s very easy for employees to carry them from their home to the office without realizing it. Dust mite eggs can nest in carpets, upholstered furniture, and even cubical walls if they’re covered in any type of fabric. Frequent vacuuming and carpet cleaning can help reduce the number of dust mites that linger in the workplace. Dusting workspaces and wiping them down can also help.
- Avoid plug-in scents and aerosols. While these are common bathroom items, they also emit fumes that can cause serious issues for allergy sufferers. Companies should steer clear of cleaning products that eject volatile organic compounds into the air and use less abrasive alternatives instead.
- Find the best allergy medicine. While antihistamines are effective at reducing allergy-induced itchy, watery eyes and runny noses, they can also make employees drowsy. Tiredness is just as likely to affect productivity as allergy symptoms are, so it’s best to combat allergies with non-sedative antihistamines.
The constant sneezing, running noses, and other common issues related to allergies can render employees incapable of working if the symptoms become severe. Taking steps to reduce common allergens can help employees better manage their allergy symptoms, improve their productivity, and reduce allergy-related absences. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about reducing absenteeism.
Straight from cold and flu season to allergy season, most workplaces are seeing an increase in requests for time off due to illness. While these sick days are understandable, they still have a negative effect on productivity and put additional stress on the remaining employees. Taking the following steps can help prevent the spread of illness in the office:
- Eat nutritious foods. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can boost immune health. Providing employees with nutritional guides, apps, or even food during the day can help to adjust unhealthy habits and improve immune system function.
- Use appropriate hand washing techniques. Many people don’t wash their hands correctly. Giving a cursory rinse won’t do much to rid them of germs. Employees should aim to wash their hands with soap and warm water for one minute or longer. Employees should make it a habit to wash their hands regularly, especially before eating, and proper dispensers and cleaning agents should be used.
- Sanitize desks and high-traffic areas. Any surfaces that employees interact with regularly are breeding grounds for germs. The flu virus can live for an extended period of time without a host, so it’s easy to spread it around the office. Further, pollen, pet dander, and other contaminants get tracked in from outside and can aggravate allergies and sensitivities among colleagues. Using a sanitizer on surfaces and objects employees touch regularly can help reduce the spread of inflammation, disease, and other stressors.
- Encourage sick employees to stay home. Many employees feel compelled to return to work before they are fully recovered. This is a two-fold problem. For one, the employee may relapse from pushing too hard too soon, causing an even longer delay in their return. Another issue is that they may still be contagious and infect other employees. Ensure that you provide your employees with an adequate amount of sick time, that processes are in place in each team for such occasions, and that working from home during recovery is as easy as possible but not compulsory.
- Review sick leave policies. Employees need to understand their paid time off for sick leave and their options should they use it all. Employers also need to remain cognizant of protected leave such as time off that falls under the ADA or FMLA. Employers should also consider allowing employees to work from home following an illness. The CDC recommends employees stay home for a full 24 hours after they are fever-free without the assistance of medicine. While they may feel well enough to work, they could still be contagious.
Taking steps to ensure employees stay healthy is a great way to prevent absences due to illnesses. To learn more about absence management, contact the experts at Actec.
Stress is one of the leading causes of employee absenteeism. However, stress is a multipronged issue with several sources. Some of the most common include:
- Excessive employee workload
- Issues with coworkers
- Unengaging or unsatisfying work
- Low salaries
- Limited opportunities for growth or advancement
With over three-fourths of workers reporting feeling stressed, successful managers need to make themselves aware of the stress points and take steps to mitigate them.
How to Tackle Stress in the Workplace
Identifying problems isn’t enough—great managers will take the initiative to resolve them. The following are several methods that can reduce different types of workplace stressors.
- Set clear goals and expectations. If staff members have to sit and wonder what they are supposed to be doing or what the end goal is, they are wasting time. Not only does this stress them out, it also creates delays, which can compound their stress. By providing clear instructions and appropriate details, employees will understand what they should work on and why.
- Encourage activity or exercise. Encourage employees to get moving whether they go for a walk during lunch or hit the gym. Moving the body can allow the brain to take a mental break. Staring at a screen for eight hours straight for days on end can stress an employee to the point where they become ill or lose motivation. Encouraging employees to take a 5-minute stretch break or walk every couple of hours can allow them to decompress and improve their focus.
- Imbue flexibility into your company culture. Employees have lives outside of the workplace and great managers will recognize this. Employees need flexibility to keep their work and life needs in balance. Allowing for flexible schedules so employees can come in earlier or later will help accommodate parents with children in school or employees who are attending college courses at night. Offering the ability to work an extra hour per day, four days a week so employees can take a half day on Friday can also boost morale. Implementing a work from home policy can reduce employee stress as well as it gives them the ability to work from home if they can’t come in due to caring for a sick child or family member.
- Recognize employees’ achievements. Recognizing team members’ efforts makes employees feel appreciated and valued. This can improve their engagement and productivity as well. Acknowledging hard work can be as simple as having a chat about the great work the employee has been doing or as grand as recognizing employees during meetings or events.
Great managers will make sure their employees know they care about reducing their stress. This fosters loyalty, improves workplace productivity, and reduces absenteeism due to stress. To learn more about improving employee attendance, contact the experts at Actec.