It’s R U OK? Day this Thursday 9 September 2021, and we’re encouraging all of our members to take this opportunity to check in with those around you – and with yourself – on the all-important topic of wellbeing.
It can feel daunting to broach the idea of wellness at work. But with all that’s happened in the past 18 months and the immense burden those in the tax profession have felt, it’s actually more important in our workplaces than ever. The R U OK? Day website says:
“A place where asking the question “Are you ok?” can really work is in the workplace. As employers or staff, we can all create a culture where people feel confident asking and answering this simple yet important question. Besides our legal responsibility of providing a safe and healthy workplace, these conversations can make a real difference to staff going through a tough time.”
So where do you start?
To give you some inspiration for your own workplace wellness efforts, here are a few initiatives The Tax Institute has put in place for our staff and volunteers that might also help you create a safe, supportive space for your team, colleagues or even clients.
Get thoughts and feedback
Feedback is a huge part of what we do at The Tax Institute, whether that’s feedback from staff on how we operate or feedback from members on the tools and support we provide to them.
When it comes to wellness, asking what our people need and how we could help was vital. It allows us to put our efforts towards the things that really matter.
We kicked off our internal wellness efforts with a staff survey asking about how our people would like to be supported and what they thought would make a big difference in their lives. The answers gave us a great jumping off point to know where to start.
Share meaningful resources
Many people don’t even know where to start when it comes to wellbeing. Even if your team or colleagues recognise the signs of stress or burnout, do they know how to address them?
We’ve built a Wellness Hub for The Tax Institute’s internal staff that allows us to share resources, tips and tricks to help our people navigate their own wellbeing. Including informative articles, upcoming events, instructive videos and more, this is self-serve hub gives our people a strong foundation of knowledge about positive steps they can take and help that’s available to them.
Encourage balance and breaks
With many of us still working from home, it’s crucial to be mindful of stress and burnout. We recognised that for some people, working from home meant not always having the physical or mental space to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day or ‘come home from work’. For some, it also led to longer working hours as they replaced the daily commute with ‘just one more email…’
Our leaders are taking steps to encourage balance, regular breaks and activity away from a desk throughout the day, such as:
- Blocking out time in calendars for a proper lunch break
- Instating walk and talk meetings
- Organised activities including social breaks and exercise breaks
This year, staff at The Tax Institute are also taking part of STEPtember, a whole month of taking at least 10,000 steps a day. This is not only in support of a wonderful cause but has provided a welcome reminder of the importance of taking a break from your desk by encouraging people to get outside, get away from monitors and get moving!
Get the correct training
R U OK? Day does a great job of reminding us all to take a moment to check in and reminding us that there’s more to the conversation than just one question. The conversation that comes after can be tricky to navigate, especially if you’re wading into it for the first time.
At The Tax Institute, we’ve invested in a Mental Health First Aid course for anyone interested in participating. This formal training means our people are better equipped to:
- Have conversations around the big topics
- Recognise the signs of stress, anxiety or depression
- Respond appropriately when mental health concerns are brought to them
If you’re concerned about how to handle the R U OK? Conversation, you might look into formal training, or explore R U OK? Day resources.
Check in regularly
It’s what R U OK? Day is all about: checking in to ask the important questions and make sure those around you aren’t just coping, they’re thriving. Some simple ideas that we’ve found helpful in maintaining regular connections are:
- Scheduled weekly or fortnightly one-on-ones between managers and team members where no topic is off limits
- Annual goal plans which make expectations and long-term goals clear – this can reduce workplace anxiety and gives a touchpoint for check-ins around workload and burnout
- Assigning a Buddy for all new staff members to help them settle in and build relationships outside their immediate working team
- Regular, whole company Friday Zoom sessions to catch up, laugh together, share stories from the week and see each other’s faces
We hope these tips will help spark some inspiration for ways you can support your team and colleagues to prioritise wellness at work. And remember, even if you’re a sole practitioner, it’s important to treat yourself with kindness and put wellness practices in place for yourself too.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please seek assistance immediately.