This week we spoke with Minda Zetlin, Inc. Magazine columnist and former president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, on the issue of health in the workplace. A growing number of employers are recognizing the importance of a healthy work-life balance, but it can be especially difficult for managers of field reps to be in touch with their employees’ mental health since they are away from the office. Learn what specific health issues face field reps and tips on what managers can do to address them and promote a culture of healthy employees.
1. Be Aware
Zetlin stressed that the distance between managers and field reps can cause managers to forget to check up on employees’ mental health. “A smart manager” she said “pays attention to their employees’ own expectations.” Here, Zetlin suggested that even though it is important for managers to audit reps’ travel schedules to ensure management is not demanding unreasonable results, managers should also keep tabs on what reps’ expect of themselves. Since top performers are often more autonomous than their average-performing colleagues, they often push themselves too far and experience feelings of failure and disappointment. Being aware of this tendency will help managers to emotionally support the unique needs of their best employees.
2. Encourage Social Connection
Another mental health issue that managers should be paying attention to specifically with field teams is social isolation. When reps are traveling alone, they may feel isolated. This emotion can be perpetuated if managers criticize their work via email or instant message, because they feel they are not part of a conversation about their performance, but left alone to digest negative feedback. “It’s bad for business, and it’s bad for health,” said Zetlin. She suggested that managers encourage social activities for employees and management to enjoy together. Depending on the organization, that could be a the opportunity for a once-a-month volunteer day or an invitation to get drinks every Wednesday night. There are many affordable options for organizations to experience social events, since locations like aquariums and gyms offer corporate discounts.
3. Have the Right Tools
Zetlin also said in order to promote mentally healthy field reps, organizations should make sure “employees have work equipment that makes their jobs more efficient.” With this comment, Zetlin touched upon one of the most common causes of employee turnover today: lack of resources. This is especially true for field teams that use technology not only to perform work tasks, but also use it as their main channel of communication with managers. To have happy and healthy field employees, remember Zetlin’s three tips: be aware, create social opportunities, and provide your team with the right tools for the job.
Erin P. Friar
Erin Friar is a Content Marketing Journalist Intern at Repsly, Inc. and is completing a Journalism degree at Suffolk University. She is a master of grammar and is passionate about creating fresh content to help foster efficiency and overall success in small businesses.