5 Questions a Leader can ask to check in on an employee’s mental wellbeing when working from home

Let’s start with a few caveats first:

  • Your employees are individuals. Remember to treat them as such. Everyone working from home will be in a different situation. So before speaking with them individually, think about their specific context and the challenges it might be bringing them.
  • Make sure you’re in the right headspace to deal with whatever may come up in the conversation. You will need to be able to listen without judgement, show genuine care and concern, as well as be prepared with a few resources you can offer for them to be able to take some next steps in getting help if they want.
  • Assure your employee you are asking out of genuine concern for their welfare, not simply ‘ticking a box’ on your To Do list for the day. More importantly, assure them that the conversation is confidential, and you really want them to feel safe to be honest with you.
  • Remember … leaders go first. Look for ways and opportunities to share how you are going, without fully taking the conversation away from them and their concerns.

With all that in place, you’re ready to start the conversation. Here are my 5 suggestions:

  1. Working from home has been such an upheaval for a lot of us – how are you going with the changes you’ve needed to make?
  2. What are you working on at the moment that I could help you with?
  3. Do you feel you have the support you need to do your job right now? And if not, what can I do to help?
  4. I could be wrong … to me you seem a little different lately. How are you coping with work and home life right now and how can I help?
  5. Even though our weekends seem a bit different lately, how was yours?
"Listen without judgement ... show genuine care and concern"

The success of your conversations will depend a lot on the level of trust you have already established with your team.

Finally, one conversation isn’t enough. Leaders need to be talking with their staff individually frequently enough to ensure staff do indeed feel cared for (not to mention ensuring you are meeting your legal obligations under Work Safety laws) yet not so often they feel micromanaged.

It's a fine line, I know.

But great leaders know just where that line is.

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