Employee Wellbeing
August 28, 2022

How to check on your co-worker’s wellbeing

If you’ve noticed that your co-worker doesn’t seem like themselves, it’s time to check in on them. If you’re unsure on how to approach a colleague or friend, read our article to find out some of the ways to check on your co-worker’s wellbeing.

Alanah Hammond
5 minutes

With burnout increasing and more employees working from home, it is even more important to check in on your co-workers. Everyone is so busy, it’s 2022, but this means we can often get caught up in our own lives and get out of touch with colleagues and friends.

When we’re not in the loop with our co-workers, we’re unaware of how they really are, and what they’re dealing with. It is therefore really important to check in on them as your colleague may be really struggling.

As the mental health charity Mind tells us, mental health problems are becoming more common, with one in four people experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.

Due to our new post-pandemic working ways, remote working can mean that colleagues feel more isolated, a feeling that can be detrimental to one’s mental health. According to new research by UK job board Totaljobs, almost half (46%) of UK workers have experienced loneliness while working from home, with women and younger workers (those aged 18-38) most likely to be affected; among younger workers, 74% said they had struggled with the social isolation of remote working. 

Such statistics show just how important it is to check in on your colleagues, if nearly half of us workers are feeling isolated. Here are Myles Wellbeing’s top tips on how to check on your co-worker’s wellbeing. 

1. Read between the lines

In your working environment, look out for signs from your co-workers that show they might need some support. If it’s remote work, check out their emails or social media presence, or if you’re in an office, check out their conversation and mannerisms. If something seems unusual to you, it’s time to pull them in for a chat.

Marcus Axelson, Head of Sales at Myles Wellbeing, discussed his experience with checking in on co-workers, both in the office and remotely. Marcus describes how if he is in the office, and notices “something isn't quite right” he’ll ask his colleague to “come out for a coffee” with him.

If his work is remote, Marcus details how “daily check ins on progress of work and listening to employee’s updates can give you a good gauge whether something is off”. Similarly, if something seems amiss, Marcus describes how “it would be time for an informal chat”.

2. Create an open and inviting space

Having a working environment in which every employee feels able to openly talk about any grievances they have is crucial. Whether this is through wellness plans or having employers share their own vulnerabilities, a work team will feel more cohesive with an understanding of any colleagues who are struggling.  

By employers sharing their own vulnerabilities, they show their employees that they are human, just like them. Whether the issue is minor and silly, such as struggling with a new bit of technology on their computer, or a more serious and personal anxiety, it will create an open space in the workplace for everyone to check in on each other. 

3. Embed wellbeing in your professional standards

Wellbeing plans are a great way to embed wellbeing in your professional working standards. In fact, employee morale is cited as the most improved (54%) metric from implementing wellness plans.

With higher wellbeing measures from wellness plans, staff will be happier according to research from the UK Mental Health charity Mind. With happier staff and wellbeing at the forefront of everyone’s mind, when a colleague isn’t feeling their happiest, it will be easier to approach them and check in on them. 

4. Make check-ins regular

Having a regular check in date with your colleagues means that you will always be in the loop of how they are really getting on. It’s important that these sessions don’t feel like a routine, but rather an informal catch up, to get the most out of your chat.

Not only will you find out how your co-workers really are, but you will find that your team performance has improved since it is at its best among teams that communicate in informal situations.

If you find out in one of your regular check ins that a co-worker is struggling with their mental health, there are many free resources and tools for your workplace to help. For example, the charity Mind offers a free guide to their Wellness Action Plans to help start a conversation with your workers about their mental health. 

5. Choose your language carefully

Language is how we communicate with each other, and communication is key to checking in on your co-worker. However, be careful with what language you use when communicating with your team to ensure you are getting an honest update on how they actually are.

For example, slight language changes can have a huge impact on the response you receive. If you ask your co-worker "How's it going?", you may find they give you an update on the task they're working on. However, if you change your words slightly and ask explicitly, "How are you, is everything going okay?", you may find that your co-worker will give you more detail. 

With a response of a personal anecdote of something going well, or, more importantly, something that is worrying them, you can assess how your colleague is doing and get them any help, if needed.

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