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The impact of communication on mental health and why return to work is the moment for change

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Countless meetings in the last year have opened with “it’s been a rough week,” “long day,” or “this year...” However your colleagues lament fatigue, it’s clear that the unprecedented disruption and economic anxiety that permeated daily life in 2020 has taken a measurable toll.
The Impact of Communication on Mental Health

Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare study found that Americans’ mental health is at its lowest point since the survey’s origin in 2001. 

But the negative effects of poor communication within the workplace pre-date the pandemic, and their impact is felt not only at the employee level in the form of mental health issues and low morale but at the business level—in the form of lost productivity and high turnover.

Can the way we communicate impact our employee’s mental health?

Our own research conducted in 2020 found that 73% of those surveyed cite effective employee communication as a driving factor in building workplace culture—which directly correlates to workplace morale and worker mental health. 

Additionally, the study’s data found that:

  • Dispersed workers are 4x less likely to receive adequate communication compared to desk workers
  • Over 50% of all employees report their company doesn’t think of employee communications as a core value
  • More than one-third of workers surveyed said they’ve considered quitting due to lack of communication and transparency

The bottom line: Employees are suffering as many companies are still working on how to build a better sense of belonging and connection. In fact, a Deloitte recent study indicated while 79% of companies surveyed acknowledge a sense of belonging is essential for their employees, only 13% state that they are ready. 

Deloitte 2020 Global Human Capital Trends

Source: Deloitte 2020 Global Human Capital Trends

Frequent communication improves employee well-being

And yet, the eventual end of the pandemic provides a new chance for companies to be a force for good through empathetic and inclusive communication. Employees will soon begin returning to work—some remote from a new location, others continuing work outside the office that is critical to business operations, and some going back into an office environment; all with a heightened level of concern about what used to be routine. There will be various sources of information about travel, safety, and the necessity of in-person appearances at work. Employers must make the communication about the return to work meaningful in a voice and medium that employees can trust.

A recent McKinsey study recommends that even high-level communication about post-COVID-19 working arrangements boosts employee well-being and productivity. And, organizations that are able to communicate more detailed, remote-relevant policies and approaches see greater increases.

What employees are saying about the future of remote work
Source: McKinsey & Company

At the same time, this is a delicate task—while broad, transparent communication is encouraged, there should not be an emphasis on finding a “one size fits all” solution around the return to work. Different roles will require various levels of returning, and employees may still have justifiable needs to stay distant. The only policy should be understanding and flexibility. 

Make it matter

Organizations were better equipped to handle the tumultuous past year by having systems in place to connect and engage with their employees when it was needed most. We’ve seen the results and we know that when you include and communicate with your employees you improve their experience and can transform your business.

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Firstup is redefining the digital employee experience to put people first and lift companies up. We make communication solutions that build authentic engagement and create two-way conversation between employees and companies. Our powerful orchestration engine connects every worker, everywhere, on any device with personalized information that helps them do their best work. That’s why 40% of the Fortune 100 companies have chosen us to power their frontline, simplify their digital workplace and unlock the potential of their workforces.

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