Five Best Ways to Ask Your Employees “Are You Okay”

HR managers have felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as the global health crisis disrupted employment markets and workforce participation. What most managers overlook is the impact that the pandemic has had on the mental health of employees. There was a 1,000% increase in the number of people calling mental-health hotlines.

As an employer, you don’t want to openly ask your employees “Are you okay?”, because the question itself implies that something is wrong. While it sounds comforting, it may break down someone to the extent of crying. Here are some smart alternatives to show you support.

1. Can I Buy You Coffee?

One of your staff can work themselves up, making them fall in an emotional rut. The more we think about our problems can lead to a vicious cycle. “Can I buy you coffee?” doesn’t imply that you’re limited to coffee. The simple act of compassion is enough to make someone forget their problems for a while. It’s an excellent way of showing your support without being overbearing.

2. How Can I Support You?

Perhaps you sit next to a troubled colleague or worker; you know when they are disturbed. Therefore, what good will “Are you okay?” going to do? It only makes their off-demeanor the center of attraction in the workspace. You can cut to the chase by asking them how you can support them. We are humans. We love sticking our noses and wanting to know every detail in someone else’s life. The best approach to the situation is to limit the questions and focusing on how you can be of assistance to them. That alleviates the tension of asking for help.

3. Show Concern, then Approach

Achieving positive outcomes with this approach can be a little tricky. It would be best understood through an example. Take this situation;

Your employee or workmate comes to work, and they are not in themselves. S/he seems troubled, and even fails to exchange morning pleasantries as they usually do. Something is wrong. It would help if you approached them: Hey Sasha (for example), you seem troubled today, how are you doing? What happened during the weekend to make you feel so low?” Remember, just because someone is emotionally disturbed doesn’t mean they’ve given up their social instincts.

Still, they don’t owe you an explanation, and you should not demand one. Your primary focus should be their well-being and how you can positively change their moods.

4. You Can Speak to Me If You Want

Instead of prying, trying to study your troubled colleague, offer them a listening ear. People have different characters. Some are reluctant to open up while others are longing for someone to vent to. It is a friendly gesture to offer time and listen to their adversities. That’s critical because people tend to view life from a different perspective when they speak out loud. The secret is to let them decide when and what to say. Don’t be patronizing and forceful.

5. Pose Open-ended Questions

One of the concerns with asking someone “are you okay?” is that it limits the response from the other person. They will either say “Yes, I’m okay” or “No, I’m not okay”. None of these answers offers clarity of what someone is thinking. It will help if you ask open-ended questions regardless of their response. These types of questions provide them with enough room to elaborate on their problems in a way that suits them. Before you realize it, you’ll be sharing a conversation because you’ve understood their situation, enabling you to understand what is troubling them and the best way to help