In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it’s easy to overlook our own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of those around us. Events like R U OK? Day serve as a gentle yet crucial reminder to pause, reflect, and scan your network for those who might be struggling.
But we shouldn’t wait until R U OK? Day rolls around each year. We should empower ourselves with the tools and resources to ensure we are ready to ask someone those three simple words on any day of the year. Three words that can have a profound impact on someone who might be silently suffering.
Asking the question and truly listening to the response
It’s a skill to be able to genuinely listen to someone and we should all practice it. Allowing people space to speak openly, with an understanding that you care and are really listening, is so valuable. Here are a few things to consider:
• Ensure you have privacy. Find a quiet place if needed.
• Body language is key. Make eye contact, nod, show you are engaged in the conversation.
• Avoid fidgeting or don’t allow external distractions to steal your attention.
• Acknowledge the information being shared with you but avoid the desire to provide a solution.
• Listen and reflect.
• Ask if there is anything you can do right now to help.
• Offer contact details for professional resources that your colleague can reach out to.
• Continue to check in with that person and see how they’re doing.
What to do when the answer is ‘No, I’m not OK’
So, you’ve found a quiet moment to approach a colleague and ask them ‘R U OK?’ and their response is ‘No’. What do you do now?
If you are concerned for the persons personal safety and if suicidal thoughts have been raised, it’s vital to take further action. Let your colleague know that you are concerned for their safety, and you have a responsibility to escalate this to keep them safe.
Ask if you can accompany your colleague to speak with their manager or HR if they feel comfortable doing so. Alternatively, you could offer to sit with them while they call a mental health support service.
We recommend checking your workplace policy relating to colleague personal safety and escalating your concerns to your manager and HR for further appropriate action to be taken.
How we are working to improve workplace wellbeing
At Factotum, we are keen on our little family and really want to ensure we foster a culture of support and wellbeing. We have a weekly team WIP where a standing agenda item invites each staff member to share their wellness score. It doesn’t have to be explained but it’s a gentle and easy way to gauge how our team are tracking and opens the door for a conversation, should it be needed.
You may have noted from previous posts that we offer our employees Wellness and Connection leave; 5 additional leave days annually to be used for community connection and personal wellness.
This encourages us to make plans to prioritise things like community volunteering, celebrating significant cultural days, or taking a mental health day just to recharge and practice self-care during periods of need.
As Head of People and Culture, I have also been engaging in workplace mental health coaching through Worksafe NSW, a fantastic initiative available to small businesses in NSW. With support from a registered psychologist, we have put together a robust workplace wellness strategy and promotion plan. Something that will help us ensure we are offering the right support to our Factotum family.
When we spend so much of our daily lives together, our colleagues often become our extended family. We get to know each other on a fairly solid level and can often see the signs that something’s not ok, before others in their lives. In the workplace, a regular check in and saying those three words, can make a world of difference.
One important final note – don’t forget to check in with yourself. Take breaks, prioritise your mental health, and don’t hesitate to seek help when needed.
I’ve put some support services and contact details below. Jot them down as you never know when you or someone you know might need them.
13 11 14
1300 224 636
Suicide Call Back Service
1300 659 467
1300 789 978