Remote Mental Health
Darren Hockley, MD at DeltaNet International on Looking After your Mental Health Whilst Recruiting Remotely.
Recruitment is a business rooted in human interaction. Anyone that’s ever worked in, or even visited, a recruitment office will know this. Workspaces are usually filled with the noise of phone calls and candidate interviews, and recruiters themselves are often in and out of the office getting to know new clients and getting a feel for their workforce.
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, it seemed unlikely that the recruitment industry would ever catch up with other sectors in normalising remote working practices. Indeed, many recruitment leaders felt that consultants benefited from the office buzz and atmosphere of healthy competition. Others believed the job simply required a hands-on approach, with consultants conducting face-to-face interviews, coffee meetings, office viewings, and so on.
Fast forward to today and this has all changed.
Government-issued instructions to work from home in order to contain the spread of coronavirus and help hospitals cope mean that recruiters need to adapt quickly.
Like many businesses in March 2020, the recruitment industry has undergone a swift switch to online communications. Using comms tools such as Skype, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, or task management software like Asana, Trello, and Hubstaff, the industry has risen to the challenge, allowing many firms to continue to recruit new talent.
The challenge of mental health
Still, separated from their usually vibrant teams, many recruitment consultants are reporting feelings of loneliness and isolation.
As well as being bad news for the mental wellbeing of staff, over time, isolation can cause employees to feel disconnected from the company and its larger goals.
Below are some easily actionable tips to aid boosting morale and productivity for recruiters during this time:
Rightly or wrongly, many business leaders are concerned about productivity whenever staff work from home. This is particularly true for recruitment firms where it’s not the norm. However, the good news is, you can prove the stereotype wrong!
Ultimately, your monthly sales figures and billing will speak for itself, so staying focused is key as staff continue to self-isolate.
At the moment, one of the biggest distractions you’ll face is the news. Checking for Covid-19 updates, or clicking on alerts as and when they pop up, is going to be hard to resist.
Recruiters should be wary of scrolling themselves into despair, however. Relying on unreputable sources for news about the outbreak can fuel anxiety, making it difficult to concentrate and putting your mental health at risk.
Remember, many news sources rely on click-bait and scaremongering for views, so schedule “news breaks” – maybe 1 or 2 a day – and stick to them. Turn off news alerts and choose your outlets carefully, ensuring they are quality sources (try the World Health Organisation).
Inspire your candidates
During times of global business disruption, it can be easy to feel concerned and uncertain about the future. Your candidates may feel now’s not the time to be job-hunting or that there’s no point in even trying.
This is where recruiters can help! Communicating frequently with candidates and offering positive feedback is one of the best ways to inspire and motivate them to stay on track (and it will help you to keep positive and forward-thinking too).
Keeping your contacts informed about the work you’re doing on their behalf and the progress you’re making is a surefire way to keep the future looking bright. Keeping clients and candidates ‘in the loop’ of recruitment means they’re far more likely to work with you as you implement alternative recruitment measures, video-interviewing for example.
… On that note, communicating effectively whilst away from the office is suddenly very important for businesses – possibly even more so for a humancentric occupation like recruitment.
Remember, video calls are far more effective than email and even phone calls when it comes to avoiding miscommunication. Video chat is a way to humanise virtual communication.
Seeing your clients and candidates face-to-face in this way is important, as it allows you to pick up non-verbal communications and character cues from your interviewee, e.g. their environment, facial movements, and clothes.
These aren’t things anyone would think to email you about, but they allow you to get to know people better, in an intuitive way, and make judgement calls.
Maintain a work/life balance.
For recruiters used to going into the office, blurring the lines between work and home can feel stressful.
There’s suddenly no need to dress smartly or stick to a routine, and even the lack of commute (a time we use to enter into one mindset or another) can mean it’s hard to switch off at the end of the day. Sadly, this can mean bad things for mental health.
Since recruitment is so reliant upon constant communication, it’s going to be very important to ‘go off grid’ after your workday is complete. Try to stay offline and relax in other ways, e.g. cooking, watching a movie, or reading a book.
Another tip is to integrate a ‘transition’ period between work and leisure time – a sort of symbolic commute, if you will.
Perhaps you will walk the dog every day at 5pm, search the internet for a new recipe to try, or go upstairs and change into leisurewear. Whatever it is, developing this habit over time will signal the end of the working day for you, helping to begin your evening wind-down and maintain your wellbeing.