For many people in Australia, 2020 has been the most challenging year of their lives. On average it is estimated that 1 in 7 Australians will experience depression in their lifetime, and 1 in 4 will experience a period of anxiety (1). Unfortunately during the COVID-19 pandemic, many health experts believe these figures could become even worse. The impact of health concerns, job losses and business closures, together with the subsequent feelings of isolation and anxiety mean that the need to reach out and connect with each other is more important than ever.

At HireRoad, we believe in the importance of human connection and creating a workplace where people feel they are cared for and have a sense of belonging. To honour this we will be proudly participating in R U OK? Day on Thursday 10 September.

What is R U OK Day and why is it important?

The R U OK? initiative was created by Gavin Larkin and Janina Nearn, after Gavin lost his father to suicide in 1995. Gavin was a passionate believer that one conversation can change a life, and the simple act of asking a person “Are you OK?” could help protect other families from the pain he had endured.

At the heart of R U OK? is the idea that when relationships are strong between people, you are more likely to notice the signs of a person who is struggling. It is important to trust your gut instinct and reach out to a person who doesn’t seem quite themselves sooner rather than later.

How do you start a conversation with someone you are concerned about?

R U OK? recommends a four-step approach to reaching out to someone who you think may be struggling with life. Beyond asking the initial question of “Are you OK?” there are a few extra steps to take:

  1. Ask the question – R U OK?
  2. Listen with an open mind – Don’t rush the conversation or judge them.
  3. Encourage action – Find out how you could help them or put them in touch with an expert who can help.
  4. Check in – Follow up in a week or two down the track to see how they are travelling.

Building awareness in the workplace

At HireRoad we foster a workplace culture where people feel safe, encouraged and supported. On R U OK? Day we will be reaching out to our colleagues to check in and see how they are doing. We’ll be educating all our employees about how to have a conversation with a colleague they are concerned about, and how to support someone who does need help. With our workforce currently working remotely, we’ll need to make an extra effort this year to check in with each other and make sure nobody is feeling isolated or disconnected. R U OK? provides a number of excellent workplace resources that we will be using to help support each other.

These conversations are not easy ones to have, but the stakes could not be higher.

By Liam Ackland, Managing Director Asia Pacific, HIreRoad

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