About 30 percent of human life is spent working. At least that’s what Google says. Be it somewhat more or less than this – it’s still pretty much time spent in a lot of places that some of us consider our second homes.
These places, the nature of a job and the people we are working with can significantly influence our mental health and influence our feelings towards the job and company. This is why it is important to work in a company that knows how to manage work processes effectively, motivate their employees and provide all ranges of support especially in times of crisis.
Whatever your job position in a company currently is – it is important to know about the causes that can negatively influence employee engagement. In the world of HR, this specific situation has its name – detachment. “Detached” employees are disinterested in company success and disengaged from their involvement in the organization. Their performance may be getting worse and they provide no initiatives or show no passion for work.
By the end of this article you should learn the following:
- Why taking care of mental health at work is important
- What are the dangers of employee detachment
- How to recognize detached employees
- How to prevent detachment and motivate employees.
In this way, you will gain important knowledge on the topic of detachment and hopefully be inspired to introduce changes in the way your company provides support to employees in this matter.
Why is mental health at work important?
The dream of every company or organization is to have engaged and productive employees who will give their best to make the company grow and succeed. To make this possible, companies or organizations should take the mental health of their employees very seriously.
They should have strategies and actions that can assess their employees’ engagement, motivation, happiness and mental health in general. Having these it will be easy to decide the next steps in case any employee starts feeling detached from the company, colleagues, his job duties, targets, etc. Don’t be so fast into thinking that one less productive or stressed employee is not a large issue for a company.
Some research shows that one stressed and disengaged employee can negatively influence their coworkers, react impulsively to everyday challenges at work, and neglect their role in a team. As a result, this is affecting the overall team score and success.
This shows that good mental health of individuals in a company has a high influence on the overall productivity of employees. Also, the overall productivity of employees has a high influence on company success. Some statistics say that companies who dedicate their time to address wellbeing at work have increased productivity by 12%. It also contributes to reduced sickness absence, lower employee turnover and better performance and engagement.
Employee detachment – are there any dangers?
Last year brought remote work to the center of our attention. While some of us accepted it gladly, for others it was quite hard. Many employees struggled with bad wi-fi, no adequate work equipment at home (chair, decent laptop, lighting), the effort to be present at Zoom call and calm the crying kids or losing the balance between work and home time.
Those who worked from home had a lot of communication through constant Zoom/Skype/Google Meets meetings, Viber/Whatsapp groups, more reports, more calls… In their best effort to handle it all, a lot of employees in companies were slowly becoming overwhelmed with all these platforms.
Some reports say that 66% of employees stated that their workload has increased significantly during last year.
What was discovered as a cause? The inability of the companies to lead communication.
Adding numerous communication platforms among employees brings confusion and stress. Employees constantly need to check all communication channels so that they don’t miss information. They also start feeling the urge to be available to answer in seconds so that their managers or CEOs don’t think they are in another room, watching TV. The need to be expeditious and available even after work brings more stress. The long-term stress then leads to a lack of energy and lower productivity.
- 84% say their company has added 1 or more new messaging or digital communication platforms since they began to work from home.
- 56% say that 4 or more hours are added to their workweek from the new digital messaging tools alone.
- 50% of respondents say they receive more than 20 additional emails each week than they did before the transition to remote work.
While the benefits of communication platforms and apps are clear to everyone, having to check 3 or more platforms daily is not contributing to employees’ productivity.
Having all of this in mind, as a result, employees start feeling detached and all of this should be your first red flag that requires a response before it escalates. Detachment brings certain dangers with itself and they influence overall motivation, productivity, sense of belonging, feeling like there is no support from others, the work and effort is not valued enough…In the end, it makes employees want to check other companies, leave their jobs and thus bring all their knowledge and expertise with themselves.
Imagine the chaos of losing talents just because the company did not know how to manage communication properly and estimate the new workload that work from home brought?
How to recognize detached employees?
Besides obvious behavior such as not achieving monthly targets, there are many ways to recognize the moment when your employees start feeling detached.
Here are some of them:
- There is no initiative. The employee sticks to the tasks that are given or that the job requires but that’s it. For a longer period the employee does not suggest any new ideas on how to make something better, how to improve sales or customer service, or how to reorganize processes (depending on the job itself). It is especially important to pay attention to if the same employee used to give ideas and opinions during live or online meetings and to care about how a company can do better.
- Longer breaks. Not only lunch breaks that suddenly last more than is allowed, but also small 5 minute breaks that happen more often: checking social media every couple of minutes, taking cigarette breaks every twenty minutes… Of course, all of these are hard to track while the employee is working from home but it may be shown in negative results at the end of the month: not meeting targets or delaying tasks and projects.
- Bad management of work-related problems. Every workday brings challenges with itself and people usually try to solve any issues professionally and in time. When it comes to detached employees, these issues are not addressed properly. There is a lack of willingness to take a detailed approach and solve the issue for the benefit of the company. This kind of employee usually makes a minimal effort and then forwards the problem to other colleagues.
- Becoming bored. Maybe no one noticed that the employee does not have enough work. There are no challenges. This employee didn’t get any kind of education for a longer period. No one asked him or her for an opinion, new idea or their view to the situation or company’s products. As a result, the employee is bored and has an apathetic attitude. Even if he or she suddenly has taken more and more interest in other colleague’s work rather than on their own, it might be a red flag for the company.
How to prevent detachment?
Having engaged employees means having a good mood in the company, good profitability, better collaboration among employees etc. By knowing what made a lot of employees detached from their company throughout the last year in times of pandemic and work from home, it may be easy for you to think about the methods of how to prevent this from happening in your company.
Choose how you communicate. Here the accent is on the number of communication and platform apps that your company will choose. There should be one platform for meetings (Zoom/Skype, Google Meets and similar) and one for communication (Slack, Viber/Whatsapp group…)
The company should not put the burden on employees of being on three platforms at the same moment every day. If you happen to be in such a company, provide a solution that will benefit all and prevent yourself and your colleagues from being overwhelmed.
Provide IT support. Many employees don’t know how to fix issues such as when Zoom is trying to connect but fails, mails arrive in a strange order, mail can’t be sent, their laptop at home froze and won’t restart etc. Regardless of the challenges, these employees are facing, remote work is still mandatory for them. They might feel isolated and unable to deal with the stress of it all. More often than not, they will be embarrassed to ask for help.
By providing IT support you will show them that they should not be ashamed of not being an IT know-it-all guy or feel bad if they couldn’t connect to Zoom or have an old computer. In addition to this, make sure that they have at home everything that makes it easier for them to do their jobs remotely.
Create a system of tracking employee’s work that says „I trust you“, not the opposite. Many employees felt like the managers suddenly lost trust in their work ethic because they called them every half an hour, required them to be present on many communication platforms, and demanded full reports by the end of each day. This sends a strong „I don’t trust you“ message which makes employees feel bad.
Be sure to talk with your employees about what would be the best option to track everyone’s achievements during work from home. Give them time to finish their tasks and encourage them to dedicate a bit of their time to think about creative solutions to existing problems instead of organizing endless Zoom meetings, asking for detailed reports etc. People appreciate when they are told they are being trusted but also when this is shown to them as well.
Encourage their development. Last year got us unprepared for everything that was going on and many employees devoted all their work time (and more than that) to help a company exist, survive the crisis and earn more and more money. Many managers forgot how important it is to help employees learn new things and develop themselves while giving their best for their company.
As said before, not having enough work to do or not being challenged at work may also influence their engagement and attachment to the company. Provide them with education, informative newsletters from time to time, send them TED talks, encourage them to share some good movies or documentaries among themselves. Along with this make sure the employees receive appreciation for their good work.
Maintain the feeling of belonging. Organize fun activities on Fridays. These may be one-hour coffee chats where everyone discusses some funny moments from their life or remember the best moments from the office. You can organize online competitions, team buildings or fun games. Devote some time to talk about what you can improve when everyone goes back to the offices.
Does your team need more flowers? Should the music in the offices be different or maybe the coffee that everyone’s been drinking so far is not that tasty? Remember that feeling of belonging to the team and company culture is at the essence of an employee’s motivation and attachment.
What we need to know is that…
It is important to encourage talking about mental health among employees. No one should feel ashamed to share that they have anxiety or that they are stressed because of their job. There should be no discrimination but only support and understanding. Not feeling valued, appreciated and having to manage a lot of communication platforms daily can contribute to the feeling of detachment and can bring other mental health issues with themselves.
Bear in mind that active, engaged and happy employees significantly influence the sales, profit, reputation and culture of the company.
By knowing how to prevent detachment you will avoid all the obstacles that this brings with itself because „True prevention is not waiting for bad things to happen, it’s preventing things from happening in the first place”.