Mental Health and Communication Without the Office

Effective communication has always been a key component of a successful business, and it has become absolutely imperative during this period of instability and huge shifts in the way that we work.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we have come up with some simple questions for you to ask your employees and teams. To improve communication and keep us well.

To download the report click here.

Q1: How are you?

The simplest question but one of the most poignant. Don’t take ‘fine’ as an answer if it doesn’t feel right. Probe gently and really listen to the response.

Q2: How are you and your family coping with the current lockdown restrictions? 

If you can, ask about specific family members by name – it’s important to show that you understand your individual team members and the pressures they might be facing, for example how they’re coping with childcare, homeschooling or caring for elderly relatives.

Q3: Is there anything that we can do as a business, or me personally, to help or support you? 

Also check whether there is anyone else in their life that they can talk to or go for support. Do they feel comfortable asking for help? And if they mention a need, make sure you follow-up. This might be to recommend organisations that could provide more specific help.

Q4: What do you miss most about your job role prior to lockdown? 

People will miss different things. Some will miss the camaraderie. Others might miss being able to physically go to work. And others will be enjoying a different way of working. Make a note of these and see if you can address these needs in the current climate and to help you plan for returning to work.

Q5: Do you have the right level of technology to enable you to communicate effectively both for work and socially at present?

We might take our technology for granted. Do your people have what they need to do their job well. If they’re on furlough, are they still able to communicate with others to maintain feeling part of a team and organisation?

Q6: Do we as a business hold enough meetings/social calls to keep you in touch with your colleagues? 

Some people are having Zoom fatigue. Are too many meetings being held? Have they got enough time to prepare? Are they feeling pressurised to participate? Some people hate being on cameras, especially introverts, so let them know that this is OK.

Q7: How are you feeling about work at the moment?

People who are struggling might show a lack of motivation/job satisfaction, difficulty meeting deadlines, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Explain that all of these feelings are totally understandable and explore how you can help. Signpost to GP, online resources and employee assistance programmes for additional support.

Q8: Has your current work and living situation left you in financial difficulty and unable to provide for your family? 

We are often uncomfortable talking about money but knowing the financial concerns of your people will help you to help them. Do make it clear that they do not need to answer this if they don’t want to and make sure you use it as an opening question to explore how the business can help. Make sure you have ways you can help before you ask – this might just be organisations you can signpost people to.

Q9: When restrictions are lifted, do you feel comfortable coming back into a working environment? 

Some people are very anxious about returning to work. Listen to what steps they want you to take to help them feel comfortable. Also, check the Government guidelines for returning to work

These are just a few questions to help you engage with your people and check up on them. This is about connecting personally rather than just professionally. And most importantly it’s about being kind. That’s the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week. Find out more here.

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