“R U OK?” Day 2023: A CEO’s Point of View.

I was taught, and have learned, that forming connections, networking, providing an honest service, and caring for your employees are the pillars upon which a successful business in Australia is built. While this is an accurate statement that all business owners and directors can relate to, it is not uncommon for us to neglect, in the midst of our busy schedules, that our outside-of-work wellbeing and the wellbeing of our employees should be regularly nurtured.

Yesterday was national “R U OK” day, which was established by Gavin Larkin and Janina Nearn in 2009.  When instructing our employees on what to do and where to go, we may neglect signs that something may be affecting their performance. As the CEO of a business with over 30 employees, and a mother of 4 beautiful boys, I fervently believe, based on both personal experience and education, in the effectiveness of asking this simple yet profoundly significant question. As parents, we routinely check in on our children’s well-being and I believe, as business leaders, we should do the same with our employees.

I am aware of the sensitivity of the subject of mental health, so I will provide links to “R U OK?” resources through out this article. I will also only provide general suggestions that are intended to continue the conversation started by “R U OK.” If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues or a mental health condition, I encourage you to contact a medical professional in order to receive the appropriate advice for your, or your loved one’s, situation.

So today, I wish to further the “R U OK” conversation and demonstrate how it can extend beyond a national day, and the simple ways it can be incorporated into your employee wellness initiatives.

 The Connection Between “R U OK?” Day and Employee Wellness:

 In previous articles, I have discussed how easy it is to become preoccupied with numbers, deadlines, and bottom lines. But what we sometimes neglect is the welfare of the individuals who are responsible for our company’s success – the employees. The concept of employee wellness extends beyond providing healthcare benefits and gym memberships. It involves nurturing a caring, compassionate, and supportive culture within our organisation. And that’s where “R U OK?” Day and its educative themes come into play!

 The Power One Conversation: “A.L.E.C”

 “R U OK?” Day serves as a reminder that a simple exchange can have a significant impact. It encourages us to pause and ask our coworkers sincerely, “Are you okay?” It’s about demonstrating that we care, that we’re here to listen, and that we value each other as individuals, not just as employees. There are four easy steps to initiating and continuing an “R U OK?” conversation, these are known as “A.L.E.C”:

  1. Ask “R U Ok?”: Asking “Are you okay?” is an essential conversation starter. It demonstrates that you care and are willing to listen. Here’s an example:Example: You notice a colleague, Sarah, who seems a bit down lately. She’s been quiet during meetings and doesn’t seem as engaged as usual. You approach her during a break and say, “Hey Sarah, I’ve noticed you’ve seemed a bit off lately. R U OK? Is there something on your mind that you’d like to talk about?”

  2. Listen: As the saying goes “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak”. Listening is the heart of effective communication. When someone opens up, it’s essential to listen without judgment and with empathy:Example: Sarah responds to your question with, “Well, actually, I’ve been dealing with some personal issues lately, and it’s been challenging.” Instead of immediately offering solutions, you respond, “I’m here for you, Sarah. Please share as much or as little as you want. I’m here to listen.”

  3. Encourage Action: Encouraging action entails assisting the individual in addressing their concerns or helping them to seek professional assistance, as necessary. You can not force someone to go see a medical professional or a therapist, but you can be supportive in their seeking out of these services:Example: After Sarah shares her concerns, you say, “Thank you for opening up, Sarah. It takes strength to talk about these things. Have you considered speaking to our HR department or utilising our Employee Assistance Program? They can provide resources and support for employees going through tough times.”

  4. Check In:  Checking in with the loved one or co-worker you are supporting should be consistent, but not intrusive and overbearing. Ongoing support is about making sure that person knows you care about their well-being and are aware they have access to help if they need it:Example: In the following weeks, you periodically check in with Sarah by asking, “How are you doing, Sarah? Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” You continue to show your support and willingness to listen, reinforcing that she’s not alone in her struggles.

I’ve seen first-hand how following these four steps can change the course of someone’s day, week, or even their life. It can be the lifeline someone desperately needs when facing personal challenges or struggling with their mental health.

Creating a Culture of Care:

As leaders and professionals, it is our duty to foster a workplace culture in which inquiring “R U OK?” is not a one-off activity, but rather a year-round commitment. It is about providing our employees with the resources and support they need to flourish professionally and personally.

 At Lifestyle Cleaning Services, we are dedicated to promoting employee wellness. We provide mental health resources, encourage open communication, and ensure our team knows that their well-being matters. Because when our employees feel valued and supported, it reflects positively on our business and the service we provide to our clients. You can also access the “R U OK? Workplace Champions Guide” resource for creating a workplace culture where everyone feels safe, supported and encouraged.

In Conclusion:

As “R U OK?” Day drew to a close on the 14th, let’s remember that reaching out to co-workers, employees and loved ones should continue. Let’s make it a part of our everyday interactions and cultivate a caring and supportive workplace culture. Together, we can improve lives and build a workforce that is more compassionate and resilient.

 Thank you for taking the time to read my article and for being a part of our employee wellness journey at Lifestyle Cleaning Services. Let’s continue to ask, “R U OK?” because that one question can make all the difference.

To access the “R U OK?” resources discussed in this article, CLICK HERE!

Originally Published on Linked IN