In the lead up to R U OK Day on Thursday 14 September we’re mindful of the shifting narrative that accompanies this day (and so many others like it). For us, we see R U OK Day as an important anchor day. We know that organisations need to commit to a year-round culture of care. However, what R U OK Day does is provide a dedicated day for us to focus on raising awareness and understanding to encourage more organisations to take practical evidence-based action. And that’s what we’re all about … yes, all year-round.
Let’s start by looking at how can you demonstrate an always-on commitment to supporting your people.
One of the most impactful things you can do is create a check in culture within your organisation.
At a high level, a check in culture is one where people are able to safely make space for each other and ask, “Are you OK?”, and be able to respond, “I need support”, without fear of judgement, or negative action.
The challenge is in creating dedicated practices that are widely accepted, known and applied throughout your entire organisation, so that everyone is aware of the check in culture and empowered to act within it.
It’s important to remember that we all spend a lot of time at work. In fact, for many of us our work colleagues can be one of our key social networks. At an organisational level, it’s important to accept and acknowledge this. You want to encourage professional friendships to form, not discourage them.
As human beings, we benefit enormously from social support. Research suggests social connections can help support physical and psychological health and wellbeing as well as promote resilience and help us cope with stress. According to a recent ABC News piece, while we’ve never been more digitally connected, one-third of Australians still feel lonely.
Encourage people to ask, “Are you OK?”
Many people are not going to feel equipped with the skills to ask someone if they’re OK. They may shy away from it. This year’s R U OK Day theme is “Here to Hear”, which captures the message here. Remind people that they don’t need to be counsellors to listen. Sometimes being heard is all someone really needs. And we’re all capable of listening.
You may also want to think about how you can equip everyone in your organisation with the information they need if someone reaches out to them, and needs to take further steps. You can start by looking at R U OK’s How to ask section, and sharing any organisational supports – like your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – with all staff.
Remember, there are different types of support – emotional, practical and information. Nobody needs to be all three. You can read more about how to have a supportive conversation in our piece for R U OK Day 2022.
Don’t make check-ins hierarchical
It can be really easy to fall into the trap of ticking the ‘check-in’ box via weekly meetings between a manager and an employee. And, while these check-ins are incredibly valuable for many reasons, it’s important not to rely on them to lead your check-in-culture (they can, of course, be part of it).
Think about how you can create time and space for individuals to check in peer-to-peer, or even employee to manager, or even manager’s manager to employee. That means having a safe space for people to have these conversations, and also allowing these interactions to take place.
Be intentional about checking in
One of the many things R U OK Day does well, is highlight that it’s always a good time to ask, “Are you ok?”. Yes, there are signs you can and should be looking out for, but it’s also about acknowledging that sometimes people can seem OK, when they’re not.
Think about how you can create practices to encourage check-ins throughout the year. You might want to have dedicated meetings, reminders, get-togethers or even just print collateral to put in the office, or in a dedicated check-in space. How you implement a check in culture is entirely up you, but the benefit to your people and your organisation is enormous.
As Simon Sinek said, “Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything – for better or worse.” We think you can take this further, “How everyone treats each other impacts everything – for better or worse.”
So let’s commit to be better together.
Every single day of the year everyone in the workplace has a duty of care to make sure that they and other people are safe.
Creating a check in culture is just one step you can take to building a culture of care, all year-round.
In line with this year’s theme, “I’m here to hear”, our ‘Check in Culture’ workshop, part of our Being Well @ Work series unpacks how to ask someone if they’re OK, and how to respond, no matter what the answer is.
If you’d like to get in touch about how Transitioning Well can support your R U OK activities contact us now. Hurry, space is limited.
Want more inspiration to check in? We recommend reading this piece about how a stranger reaching out helped our own Head of Growth & Innovation, Mark Leopold.