Engineer Mental Health

Engineer Mental Health

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Key takeaways

  • Developers are gradually experiencing work-related mental health disorders.
  • The cognitive sphere send signals when your mental health deteriorates.
  • Problems in the emotional sphere often influence the effectiveness of the cognitive sphere.
  • Mental stability requires of well-functioning, balanced cognitive and emotional spheres.
  • The balance can be found by shifting between focused and unfocused work, physical exercise, team-building, and maintaining high oxytocin levels.

Mental disorders are a common challenge

According to the International Journal of Social Sciences, software developers have a considerably higher chance of experiencing fatigue, burnout, anxiety, and more stress their colleagues who perform mechanical tasks. Deteriorating mental health not only threatens the well-being of employees but the companies' overall productivity. Researchers from the Institute of Software Technologies found that mentally exhausted or depressed developers produce a lower code quality and tend to miss deadlines. Today, tech companies realize the importance of mental health and take action to ensure their dedicated development teams stay healthy and sane.

They are not a sign of weakness

They're a natural response to the environment you and your organization build for your engineers. As an employer, you're uniquely positioned to help your employees through this era of strife by providing resources and emotional support. Here, at Turing Alley, we strive to create a homely and comfortable atmosphere that minimizes the pressure felt on our teams. In this guide, we'll outline how you can support your engineers' mental health and give your company's retention and productivity a boost in the process.

Promote workplace mental health awareness

Building a culture of support starts by openly discussing mental health. After all, many people may not be familiar with the signs of the most common mental health issues, so it's vital to be proactive

  • Push past the stigma. If members of your management team aren't discussing mental health, or if they think of mental health issues as a personal weakness, take it upon yourself to lead the conversation. Discuss the real-world consequences of lost productivity and earnings in meetings with management personnel. Point to examples. Good mental health isn't a luxury; it's a necessity.
  • Stop celebrating stress. Many engineering teams celebrate stress without even knowing it. Promoting a "nose to the grindstone" culture may encourage burnout while discouraging rest and recovery. There's a time and place for pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, but the pandemic is probably not it. Expecting your engineers to push through stressful times can have disastrous results down the line. Instead, provide support, be kind, and be generous with time off.
  • Join the national conversation. Every May, the United States celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month. This can be an excellent opportunity to start the conversation around mental health at your company. If May is still a long way away, devote a section of each all-hands meeting to mental health awareness. It can go far in breaking down stigma and kick off a company-wide conversation about mental health.
  • Create a regular forum for discussion. Ask managers to set aside time for regular discussions with engineers about mental health. And keep in mind that engineers may have a hard time raising their hands when they're experiencing stress, so encourage managers to be proactive. Outreach can create an ongoing conversation that will help the company resolve issues before becoming more significant problems.

Managing employees through a crisis

The Covid 19 has created a prolonged mental health crisis for your managers and their teams. It also made an opportunity for managers to take time to reflect on their management styles. If they're new to remote management, are their management styles translating well? Are they empathetic to the issues employees are facing? Where can they grow?

You can help your managers get their employees through the crisis — and ensure that you're effectively managing your managers at the same time.

  • Acknowledge this isn't normal. Sheltering in place, social distancing, and long-term isolation aren't regular aspects of working from home. We're all learning how to adapt to the rigors of pandemic life, and we'll get better over time. But it's important to acknowledge that this isn't normal.
  • Assume positive intent. We don't know what others are going through. If someone on your team is acting unusual — withdrawn, aggressive, unproductive — assume positive intent and operate with empathy. By acknowledging that employees are having a hard time making space for them to work through issues, you can help turn things around for them.
  • Stay flexible. With schools closing on a moment's notice, many people's lives have been turned upside down. Don't focus on facetime with your employees — focus on their impact on your organization.
  • Read (and write) all communications with a smile. Remote working means communication may come across as rude without the added signals of tone and body language. Craft your messages a bit more carefully, and encourage managers to do the same. Don't assume that messages you receive are meant to be curt or overly direct. And if there is ever a concern raised, address it immediately.
  • Emphasize performance over tasks. Remote work for extended periods can cause employees to feel the need to appear busy. Ensure your managers are not putting new emphasis on proving tasks are complete and encouraging them to trust their employees.
  • Be kind. Kindness and empathy will go a long way during a crisis. It's called the golden rule for a reason.

Mental health benefits

Provide your engineers with resources to help them prevent and manage mental health issues. Health and wellness benefits rank among the most important for employees, and a company should assess multiple benefits options that support mental and physical health. Not only will this help your employees at the moment — but it can also boost retention by sending a message that your company will support its people whenever and however they need it.

Government-covered Health Insurance

In countries like Viet Nam, workers rely on their employers for health insurance, and are the employers are responsible for paying monthly health insurance according to Vietnamese law. The health insurance will cover medical examination and treatment fees, surgery fees.

Additional mental healthcare benefits

Every engineer has different mental health needs. Solutions like Bao Viet insurance, PIV,.. will match each employee to the exact level of care they need, whether that's self-help tips, virtual therapy, medication management, or intensive care.

And in the Covid pandemic, Additional mental healthcare insurance like Bao Viet or PVI will cover hospital fees that typical insurance can not afford.

Annual healthcare checkup

We usually offer annual healthcare checkups. Employees will receive a comprehensive health check and. We have a plan to improve their health once someone has issues.

Preventing burnout

Burnout is a massive threat to remote engineers. Over 60% of remote tech workers experience symptoms of burnout, and the risk for burnout is even higher for remote employees than it is for in-person employees. Despite this, less than a quarter of remote work strategies address employee burnout. Like other areas of mental health, being proactive with burnout is the name of the game.

  • Check-in with your engineers. Are they feeling overwhelmed? Does work need to be redistributed? Engineers will rarely speak up if they're struggling to stay on top of their to-do list, so as a leader, it's up to you to make sure your managers are broaching the topic.
  • Encourage boundaries. Employees often struggle to turn off when they're working out of their homes. Workdays don't have a clear endpoint as they do at an office, making sure engineers set healthy boundaries around their work hours. A social 10-minute team meeting every day at 5:00 pm can act as a ritual that closes out the day for everyone.
  • Follow your advice. Try not to send or respond to messages after hours. When you do, you set the tone for what you expect others to do, even if it's not necessarily the case.
  • Learn the signs of burnout. One of the earliest symptoms of burnout is a change in employee behavior. Be on the lookout for signs of burnout in your engineers: an inability to concentrate, recurring sickness, lack of motivation, and hopelessness.
  • Set aside some time to socialize. We've seen the benefits of digital team-building activities like games, happy hours, and virtual hangout sessions. Giving engineers a chance to socialize in meetings can act as a pressure-release valve. But recognize that socialization may not be what every employee needs – and ensure you're offering time off or other benefits that cater to their methods of reducing stress.

Combating isolation

The impact of loneliness and isolation should not be understated; research has shown that it's twice as harmful to physical and mental health as other common health issues like obesity. 20% of remote employees struggle with loneliness, yet only 32% of remote strategies address it. Executives should focus on how their engineers maintain relationships with their co-workers and managers. This is critical for work performance, emotional wellness, and overall mental health.

  • Have managers check-in. Managers can reduce feelings of confusion and social isolation by calling or checking in with their reports regularly. Asynchronous communication helps get work done daily, but it's nice for engineers to be reminded that their manager is more than just a username.
  • Encourage daily stand-ups. Seeing fellow engineers face-to-face (virtually) every day can help teams maintain connections. Even if it's just for 15 minutes a day, stand-ups can give team members a chance to ask each other questions about work, chat about their hobbies, and develop friendships. Managers can even do a small icebreaker every day, like asking a trivia question or doing a rotating "show and tell.
  • Make yourself accessible. Engineers want access to the leaders at their company — not just direct management. From blocking off office hours for remote teams to virtual Q&A sessions, make sure you're accessible to engineers no matter where they're located.
  • Lean on video conferencing. Technology can sometimes separate us, but video tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts, or Discord allow for face-to-face connection among teams. Require that people turn their video on when joining calls and consider creating happy hours or coffee chats to bring "watercooler conversation" opportunities to remote teams
  • Hold a virtual off-site for the entire team. Sometimes as a remote employee, you miss out on fun get-togethers that in-person teams enjoy. But not all off-sites and social events have to be physical. Consider hosting a remote off-site where all employees are at their computers — bringing together social and productive time that's open to all.
  • Hire ahead of remote. Fostering connections between remote employees takes a lot of intentionality in how you structure your processes. It might seem unrelated to mental health, but putting someone in charge of thinking through how you set up remote work at your company can help you create an environment where engineers thrive.

Conclusion

An investment in the mental health of your employees is an investment in the overall health of your company. Beyond the monetary benefits of mental health support, It's also just the right thing to do. We spend half of our waking hours at work, so we might as well make those 40 hours a week a pleasant, fulfilling, and supportive endeavor. Your engineers — and your company ledgers — will thank you for it.

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