In 2020/21, work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health. The pandemic exacerbated a growing issue of poor mental health for employees across all industries.
The pandemic, remote working and an increase in workload are all cited as reasons for employees finding work life more difficult. Businesses are increasingly looking for ways to support staff happiness and part of the answer might lie in simple phone calls.
How talking on the phone can help
Recent studies have found that something as simple as a 10-minute phone call can help to alleviate some of the negative feelings that some employees are experiencing. Particularly with many of us working from home, there’s been a clear shift from traditional face-to-face conversation to email and instant messaging apps.
Without realising, we’re now at a place where we’ve lost those tiny moments of human interaction that are so valuable when we’re finding work tough. Whether it’s an increase in workload or difficulties with a new work environment, those social moments have been important in the past for releasing stress.
Voice communication is a simple yet effective way of bringing the social aspect back into our usual working day. Hybrid working might make it difficult to bring everyone together, but a simple phone call at the start of the day can make a big difference.
It’s much easier to identify a person’s genuine feelings or concerns during a conversation, rather than over an email for example. Spotting early signs of dissatisfaction or stress can help you to support your team in the best possible way. They give the information you need to act quickly before problems can escalate.
A one-on-one phone conversation gives someone the personalised support they need to vocalise their concerns. With 30% of employees stating that they’ve never told anyone about their workplace mental health worries, it’s vital that you give all team members the platform they need to talk.
By putting aside work and dedicating specific time to someone, you’re highlighting that they have your undivided attention. You’re sharing your time with them, not replying to an instant message or email when it’s next convenient for you.
How you can use phone calls to tackle workplace stress
Speaking, rather than typing, can make a big difference to a person’s wellbeing and help them to tackle negative feelings that might have been building. Here are a few ideas that you can implement to use voice communication to improve team morale.
- Book weekly random conversations between colleagues. Pair up colleagues at random each week and have them book in an informal chat at a time that suits them. The only rule is they can’t chat about work. Either set themes (movies, holidays, pets) or let each pair decide.
- Hold one-on-one meetings with team members. Hold regular phone meetings with every member of your team. They can be 1-1 work check-ins or informal chats. However you decide to structure them, it’s important you let them dictate the conversation.
- Voice briefs to replace endless email chains. Starting a new project or briefing a member of your team on a task? Book in a quick five-minute chat instead of drafting an email. You’ll both appreciate the more personal touch and you’ll find it easier to explain the context of the work.
Phone conversations might seem a little old school compared to the communication channels that are now available, but the benefits of a simple phone call are invaluable. Digital fatigue and loneliness are serious issues that can cause genuine problems for employers. In the UK alone, mental-health related sicknesses cost businesses £45 billion every single year.
For more information on voice communication and the benefits it can have on workplace mental health, check out our free infographic.