LinkedIn conducted a research with HR professionals and interviewed Dr. Kiki de Jonge for her insights.
Four in ten HR professionals see that mental health problems are on the rise among employees who have been working at home since the corona crisis. The majority of HR professionals do think that they have the right tools, skills and knowledge to help employees when they experience mental health problems from working from home. According to research by LinkedIn, more than 500 HR professionals in the Netherlands are currently working from home.
The HR professionals see that the changed way of working - for those who have the opportunity to work from home - has an effect on mental health problems such as anxiety, burn-out, isolation and loneliness due to the corona crisis. As many as 42% indicate that these problems are now more common. Digital presentationism, the feeling of having to be online and available as much as possible because of working from home, is also present among employees according to 45% of HR professionals.
Dr. Kiki de Jonge is assistant professor of organizational psychology at the University of Groningen and founder of Groeiflow coaching. De Jonge indicates that working from home due to the corona crisis is different from working from home under normal circumstances: "It is good for HR staff to realize that these are exceptional circumstances. The crisis itself creates a lot of uncertainty and many people are currently working from home under anything but optimal conditions. In addition, it is also differs per person how well working from home suits someone. Where one person thrives on a lot of autonomy and ownership, the other needs more structure and a more stable office rhythm, or contact with colleagues. Therefore, try to gain insight into the needs of employees, so that together you can see how the homeworking situation can be optimized".
It therefore seems very important for HR professionals to remain actively involved with employees, even remotely. Three quarters of HR professionals think that their ability to support employees has remained unchanged since the outbreak of the corona crisis. Measures have also often been taken to make working from home as easy as possible. For example, according to more than half (56%) of HR professionals, it is possible for employees to organise their days flexibly. In addition, (extra) leave is offered (39%) and employees can still make use of professional (mental) guidance (25%) that was already available before the crisis.
Clarity and proactive communication key points
De Jonge emphasises that clarity and proactive communication are key points in the support that HR professionals and managers can offer their employees: "Make it as explicit and clear as possible that there is an understanding of uncertainties, stress and reduced work effectiveness. Doing so can take away a lot of worries. In addition, communicate proactively what your organisation offers in terms of support, whether it's a virtual cup of coffee or online coaching.
And finally: create expectations about accessibility and working hours. In practice, we see that employees tend to work more and longer days at home. Therefore, communicate that these are not compulsory hours, that breaks and days off are important to recharge, and that employees do not have to be available 24/7. Employees benefit from knowing that their employer thinks about them and understands the situation, especially in this time".
This interview with Dr. Kiki de Jonge appeared in: HRpraktijk.nl and HRcommunity.nl