The VILT Distant Office And Psychological Well being
Instructional design and technology to promote positive mental health in the remote workplace
We know that the recent pandemic has increased anxiety, stress and depression. However, according to research by Penn State, the problem is bigger and has more far-reaching long-term effects: Poor mental health is one of the most costly forms of the disease for US workers. The global economic cost of mental illness is projected to exceed $ 16 trillion over the next 20 years. How does moving to a remote work environment help or hinder mental health in the workplace? And how can your company leverage educational design and technology, VILT, and virtual classes for new hire training and employee continuous learning to make a positive difference?
It is important to note that while there has been progress in mental health awareness over the past decade, there is still much work to be done. In the future, it will be important to raise awareness, destigmatize treatment, and provide positive options for friends, family, work teams, and communities. This work can produce tremendous benefits as we recognize the problems and support positive outcomes.
As part of the process, learning and development (L&D) teams will play an important role in promoting positive mental health in the workplace and in the community.
The Future of Work: The Role of Instructional Design in Moving from VILT to eLearning in 2021
Learn how to convert classroom training and start an eLearning strategy based on solid ID methodology.
Wellness and the workplace
A report from the World Health Organization describes the
frequent consequences of mental health problems,
and many of them are workplace related. Those
The challenges include:
- Increased absenteeism
- Decreased employee performance
- Bad attitudes
- Relationship and interpersonal problems
Unsurprisingly, the unemployment rate is higher among people with mental illness. However, reintegration is one of the most effective ways to promote mental health in this population. It can be a tremendous challenge for organizations, management and leadership, L&D teams, HR departments and even colleagues need to promote better mental health.
In addition, the move to a remote working environment with VILT as a replacement for general classroom training has added another level of complexity. Working remotely increases the likelihood of employees feeling isolated from one another and it can be more difficult to build a cohesive team environment. Even in the best of remote structures, it is often difficult to capture social cues through videoconferencing.
The challenge is not insurmountable, however, and the changes that need to be made to enable remote working can have a silver lining to mental health results.
How to Promote Positive Mental Health
Most organizations have some form of employee wellness program in place, although the scope can vary widely. Many programs focus on physical health and provide incentives for employees who achieve clinical benchmarks for blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol levels, physical activity, and smoking cessation.
To understand the effects of mental health on workplace performance, these physical health models lack an important component. Psychological wellness initiatives, on the other hand, are less common. Corporate mental health advocacy is typically limited to advanced mental health benefits
Unfortunately, even if they have access to mental health services, people often choose not to seek treatment. Several studies have linked these rare treatment-seeking behaviors to a stigma associated with mental illness, leading to negative attitudes towards treatment and discouraging individuals in need of psychiatric services.
It certainly doesn’t help that operational changes in mental health practices – a result of Covid-19 – have limited the ability of many to continue their usual services. With that in mind, mental health services have overcome a challenge we are familiar with in the company’s training space: How can products and services be delivered in a virtual environment and / or frequently changing guidelines followed?
However, organizations that add education, leadership training, and other mental health offerings embedded into an ongoing curriculum can help destigmatize mental health problems and lead to better outcomes. Instructional design can be a valuable resource in educating employees about mental health issues.
Leadership development solutions to promote wellbeing
There is an important, albeit often overlooked, role organizational leaders can play in promoting the psychological wellbeing of employees. They must be trained through training to equip them with the knowledge and resources to become lawyers and mediators. This is essential in a remote working environment. Managers need to be able to identify the signs of anxiety and depression in the workplace, be it traditional or virtual. Well-developed interpersonal skills (e.g., active listening, empathy, feedback, etc.) are also vital for managers when approaching their employees as attorneys. Most importantly, managers must have the knowledge of relevant services that their employees can use – whether through internal employee wellness programs, corporate health services, or community resources.
The role of corporate training in the mental health advocacy
Of course, organizational leaders cannot offer much direct support for their employees’ mental health problems. Instructional designers certainly can’t do much either. That would be way outside their scope of work, but corporate training teams can be lawyers in other ways. For example, projects like converting the abundance of online educational resources into digital learning formats for the business, designing training videos to reshape the mental illness stigma, or creating custom eLearning activities to reduce stress, and even creating a communication plan for mental health resources in most cases go a long way.
However, it is best to start with a company-wide survey to identify the top employee challenges and prioritize some key areas of risk (e.g., stress relief, negative thinking, burnout, etc.). In the areas of performance counseling and training technology, employee development teams can use motivational factors in a targeted manner, build knowledge and shape behaviors related to mental health awareness, advocacy and the search for treatment.
Build a world that works better
Mental illness is not a challenge that we can overcome through training alone. The impact that companies and their leaders can have on their employees will certainly be limited. However, every seemingly small step can make a difference in an individual’s life. Even in the event that an organization cannot transform behavior-seeking treatment or provide more mental health services through corporate performance, the effort involved in communicating awareness and advocacy matters. Research suggests that simply showing concern can help protect people from stress, increase positive emotions, and promote resilience.
So you can concentrate on the mental well-being at the VILT Remote Workplace
Download the eBook The Future of Work: The Role of Instructional Design in Moving from VILT to eLearning In 2021, launch a personalized virtual training program that engages each member of your teleworking team and promotes personal wellbeing.
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