Are your team members thriving, surviving or struggling?

Don’t shy away from asking how your staff feel.

Checking in on the Mental health & wellbeing of your team may not be easy but it is essential.  
You may have noticed that there are some subtle changes in someone over time. There may be some out of character behaviours or someone else may have raised their concerns with you. Whatever the reason, asking someone how they are feeling, can be something we shy away from.  
Weighing up if and when a conversation should occur, can put strain on you and other members of your team. Left alone, it can impact on attendance, attitudes & actions. These, over time, put health & safety plus performance at risk.  

There are a few things you can do to be better at picking up when a team member is battling and when they might need support :
Their family dynamics
Activities outside of work
Personal habits – smoker,  drinker, exerciser,  nail biter
Energy levels – are they a pocket rocket or a wannabe sloth 
Appearance – do they take pride in their appearance or not
Regular check-ins on workloads
Have “tools down” team bonding such as shared lunches, community work, Friday drinks, team challenges
Get each team member to take turns at running meetings or sessions
Have staff awards
Encourage healthy habits, eating, drinking and exercise
Look at the changes in them. Observe trends or patterns such as:
Arriving late or longer breaks
Avoidance of tasks or people
Physical changes
Behavioural changes – e.g if they are normally very tidy but their desk is a mess
If you have an idea of what’s going on,  it’s easier to offer help, but if you have no idea,  think of different option that might be impacting them, such as:
Do they have extra people living with them and struggling to feed them?  Has anything happened at home that could be influencing their behaviour?
Is there discomfort around a certain person at work, so they need to move?  
Do they need an advance on their pay to fix their car?
Are they overwhelmed at work, but too embarrassed or scared to speak up?
Have they lost their mojo or desire for things?
Getting started can be the hardest part, it can be uncomfortable and feel like pulling teeth, but once you initiate a conversation and let them know you are thinking of them, they feel supported and appreciated. This may even be enough to help lift them.  Ask questions like:
So, how are you, really?
Lately I’ve noticed… would you mind helping me understand what’s going on / happening?
Are you feeling …? Is there something I can do to help? 
Would you like to talk to someone? Can we refer you to EAP? 
What do you need? How can I help?
Ask questions to check your understanding 
Repeat key concerns back to them
Most of us beat ourselves up with our own self-talk, so if we feel judgement from others, we won’t talk. Be mindful of your tone, pitch and body language when talking to them.
If action is needed, then help them be accountable. If no further action is required, simply plan to “check in” again in a few days time. 
If you’ve taken the time to talk to them, as a minimum, following up on any actions is critical and helps them feel that someone cares.  
Mental Health challenges show up in anyone, at any time for any reason. and in any way. Acknowledging and understanding this goes a long way to helping people get back to being themselves.
Let them know you care and want to support them, and they will reward you with better attendance, loyalty, performance and gratitude.

By Rae MacDonald  – PressGo facilitator

Blog post Written for Do good jobs - Are your team members thriving, surviving or struggling? - Do Good Jobs - NZ's #1 ethical jobs board


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