Get mental health sorted: Helping field-based workers on Blue Monday and beyond

Alex Epstein
January 14, 2022

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January is hard for field-service teams. Matthew Fisher, HR Manager at BigChange, offers leaders simple advice on keeping teams’ mental health strong over the winter

January can be a tough time for field-service workers. It’s cold, dark and potentially lonely. The 17th brings Blue Monday, by which time all that’s left of Christmas cheer are the bills. Field-service workers – who work long hours, often in isolation and outdoors – are more exposed than most to the lowering effects.

So, how can you help your team stay upbeat and healthy through the winter – and beyond?

It’s good to talk: start the conversation about mental wellbeing

  • Leaders need to make the first move. Research from 2021 suggested 29% of tradespeople don’t feel comfortable talking to those close to them about their mental health. More than a third don’t know how to reach support services. Start the conversation about mental health. It’s better for your staff and your business than reacting to problems.
  • Have quick one-on-ones with employees and run a mental-health awareness session. Let people know you take it seriously. Share links and information about mental health services. Bulletin boards or intranets are good places to start. 

  • Fit your language to your audience. For instance, it might be better to ask if someone is feeling lower or more worried than usual than to ask if they’re experiencing mental health issues.

  • It’s vital to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Be genuinely supportive and provide a safe environment, no one will open up if they feel that they’ll be judged. 

Walking the walk: what to do when someone is suffering 

  • If you notice someone having a hard time, reach out to discuss what’s going on and how you can support them better. 
  • Different people with different mental health difficulties will have different needs. Ask what someone wants and really listen to the answers. Peronalise and adapt your response as much as possible.
  • Review and (if necessary) change your tactics. You might need to adjust performance goals, offer more flexibility around work, or change how you communicate with an employee. 

Staying well: more self-care, less stress

  • Breathing exercises, spending early-morning time in the sun, or just listening to music you enjoy are all simple ways to boost your mood while on the job. Get the message out about how your people can stay well.
  • Staff can’t do this if they have no time. Build-in protected time, where employees can manage their wellbeing in their own way. This is better than mandatory activities; a casual group-call like a ‘free talk Friday’ will suit some, but not others. 
  • There’s no one right way. Wellbeing activities can be built into businesses of any size at any cost. It may be as simple as asking ‘How are you really doing?’ and being there to listen.

  • Say thanks often. No one likes being taken for granted. Recognise employees’ work. Use meetings, personal emails and chats. In Glassdoor research, more than half (53%) of respondents said feeling more appreciation from their boss would help them stay longer at their company. 

Improve employee experience with field service management software

Mobile workers juggle many tasks - considering upcoming jobs and adapting to situations on the fly, while always being ready to pick up the phone. They are always ‘on’, which can lead to burnout. Technologies that automate repetitive work, provide smart-scheduling, and that can flex to balance employees’ needs through simple things like quick reallocation of jobs can be a real help.

Discover how BigChange field service management software can help enhance your employees’ experience and arrange a freedemo today.

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