Media and advocacy

R U OK? There's More to Say...

1 September 2020, 
Sarah McCann-Bartlett

The impacts of COVID-19 have been multilayered: Businesses went under, unemployment went up and hundreds of thousands of people worldwide succumbed to the virus. Particularly worrying are the mental health impacts cropping up as a result of the lockdown periods.

This is something AHRI has been gravely concerned about, and it’s why we partnered with researchers Dr John Molineux FCPHR of Deakin University and Dr Adam Fraser CSP to look into how COVID-19 has impacted the wellbeing of the HR community. The report reinforced what many of us already knew – over the last few months, as their organisations leant on them more than ever, HR professionals have been faced with immense workloads. In fact, more than 70 per cent say they have neither the time nor energy to complete their tasks.

Many HR professionals are reporting high levels of exhaustion, as well as low scores around happiness in their job and the move to remote working has also caused many to feel disconnected from their colleagues. Learning how to facilitate deep, meaningful connections in a virtual world needs to be a priority.

To some extent, the report’s findings mirror what many HR practitioners report seeing in their own organisations. Employees are working themselves to the bone and unless employers put preventative measures in place, the problem is only likely to get worse. It’s a shame that it took a pandemic for some organisations to forefront mental health, but if we need to look for a silver lining, that’s it.

Armed with this knowledge, HR professionals, managers and colleagues are able to step in and support people who might be struggling with their mental health. National awareness days, such as R U Okay? Day on the 10th of September, are a great way to draw national attention to this ever-important issue, and it arrives at a time when we need it most.

This year’s theme is “there’s more to say after R U OK?”. Knowing how to ask the right questions is crucial to providing a well-rounded wellbeing approach in your workplace. Following up with questions such as, “tell me more about how you’re feeling” can be the difference between having a staff member veil their true feelings or open up about their personal challenges.

I encourage you to take the time to ask your colleagues how they’re doing. After you’ve done this, take the time to ask yourself that very same question.


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