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CultureSeptember 10, 2015

R U OK DAY (Last Updated On: September 10, 2015)

Companionship, mateship and support are all part of basic human needs. Everybody has a spark within them but sometimes this spark runs out.

R U OK DAY is a national suicide prevention initiative, which helps prevent suicide through asking one simple question. Are you OK? It is a time where others can help to reignite a lost spark and help those in need.

By asking someone if they are ok, you may lift the spirit of a person battling with mental problems. Each year 2,100 people take their lives and 1 out of every 30 people attempts suicide.

In your workplace today, why not create an opportunity to talk. Depression and anxiety is not isolated to personal life, sometimes work pressures alone can impact people, or perhaps the influence of both work and personal life pressures are building.

As an employer, it is important to provide a safe and supportive workplace for employees, where they can ask for help. Do you provide the opportunity for employees to discuss any problems they might be facing in their work and/or personal lives?

Lending a hand or having a chat can relieve frustrations, fear or the dread throughout the tough times.

An R U OK ambassador and leader of Antarctic exhibitions, Rachael Robertson, says if you are going to call yourself a leader, you need to care about people and you need to show it. One way of doing that is by just asking are you ok? As a leader your staff respect your advice and your opinion.

If your employees are distracted, agitated or hurting there is a high risk of injury in the workplace. Suppressed emotion could result in unexpected outbursts, potentially leading to employment relations issues and disputes. Employers can avoid this if they are able to create a safe and supportive working environment.

Most of our waking hours are spent at work. In some circumstances, it could be the only place a person can seek support. If you are focused on having these conversations, it is more than likely your staff will feel well supported in the workplace.

What can employers do?

  1. Implement return to work interviews; After sick or personal leave, check in and see if the employee really is OK
  2. Offer your staff frequently planned meetings to talk about amounts of workload, tasks at hand and if the employee is dealing ok with it all
  3. Encourage a work life balance and be mindful of employees over extending themselves at work
  4. Following up the initial question – are you OK? If they do not seem like themselves, chances are they are not.
  5. Know your staff; they will be chuffed if you show you care
  6. Provide access to support such as health professionals
  7. Train staff on mental health such as how to deal with anxiety
  8. Encourage healthy eating and regular exercise in your workplace
  9. Give your staff the capacity to seek professional help; this may mean time out of the office to attend appointments
  10. And remember a problem shared is a problem halved

If you are having troubles connecting or reaching out to your employees and would like to implement return to work interviews or have an instinctive worry about how to deal with a troubled employee or employment issue contact Employsure on 1300 651 415.

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