Mental health issues affect one in three of us in our lifetime, disturbing our sleeping patterns, moods, relationships, and eating habits. If mental well-being is ignored, these issues can create severe consequences that can literally destroy lives. Customer service and customer experience workers are not immune, and when they work from home, it can be hard for employers to spot the warning signs and provide help and support.
It does not matter how much you earn; however, existing debt and the rising cost of living are piling on the stress. Isolated and working from home, customer experience staff can feel like there is no escape. Long and unsociable hours can cause mental exhaustion. Yet, there are many other things, from bereavements to managing childcare or eldercare, which can cause stress and send a person’s mental health plummeting.
The good news is that mental well-being is no longer a taboo topic. Employers should actively encourage their customer service staff to consider and discuss their mental health, with benefits for employers and the workforce.
So, what can you do to help your Work From Home (WFH) customer service workforce better manage their mental health?
Here are five strategies for managing mental health and wellbeing:
1. Provide access to a wellbeing coach
Trained in mental well-being and stress management, access to a wellbeing expert can provide much-needed support. Higher salaried workers, such as middle and senior management, might have the means to access these services privately. However, customer service workers on more modest salaries do not necessarily have the spare cash to invest in their mental well-being. So, providing access to a well-being coach or telehealth support service can make a significant difference to WFH customer service staff.
2. Adjust productivity expectations
There are many distractions and potential interruptions when working from home, such as outside noise, callers at the door, and potentially from the worker’s children. You can help employees manage these by adjusting productivity goals and by offering flexibility in deadlines and hours where possible. You can also ensure work from home employees have access to technology and software that helps with repetitive tasks and organisation.
3. Encourage employee interactions
Working from home, people lose those vital connections that, although they are small, such as a conversation at the coffee machine, can be invaluable for releasing stress and anxiety. It is that old adage that a problem shared is a problem halved. Combat the loss of in-person interactions by providing your workforce with messaging applications and video conferencing tools. One-to-one communication is helpful, but you can also create, for example, a Slack group for general conversation that helps alleviate feelings of isolation. Communication can take place throughout the day if appropriate or during scheduled breaks.
4. Share support resources
Many wellness resources can help WFH customer service teams stay healthy or heal from issues that have already occurred. You can share these resources in a newsletter or direct email and provide links to free online fitness classes, meditation apps, or yoga classes, all proven to help alleviate stress and anxiety. Getting outside at least once a day is also good for your staff’s mental health and an excellent practice that anyone can introduce before or after their shift or during scheduled breaks.
5. Be compassionate
It is crucial that you are understanding and compassionate when speaking to your WFH staff. Handling mental health poorly can send out a ripple effect across your organisation, so it is beneficial for employers to support their workers. Doing so can raise your organisation’s experience and become a great place to work, which will help everyone more effectively meet customers’ needs.
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