Everyday, we send 205.6 billion emails across the globe. We wake up, check emails, get to work, check more emails, make a coffee and get stuff done (send some emails). In-between, we may make a call or two (a few more if you work in sales or customer service), send a WhatsApp, check a WhatsApp (make more coffee). The thing is, I’ve been noticing it more and more, texts have become WhatsApp-one liners on a need to know basis, sometimes it’s just a giff or a meme, very rarely do we string more than a few sentences together on anything other than work. Its seems it’s the death of real conversation and human interaction...
And then I realize, as I walk into the office on a Monday morning we barely say ‘good morning, how are you’ any more. I mean, you might get the odd grumble and, yes, it can be hard to be upbeat on a Monday morning. But, when was the last time you asked someone ‘how are you’ at work and meant it? (Now perhaps you have a best friend at work, lets veto them for a second in this exercise). Now ask yourself; when was the last time I felt someone at work sincerely ask how I was… If you can’t remember then it is clear we have become stuck behind a need just to get stuff done for a little too long.
As a HR Manager and a Yoga Teacher, I am lucky enough to have a good understanding on mental health. Stress, well-being and mindfulness have been headlining its way through both my careers for quite sometime. As a yoga teacher, at the beginning of each class, I start by asking ‘how are you feeling today’ this simple rhetoric is there only for self-reflection, but to start with asking ourselves this is so very important to understand our own mental health. But what about opening up to others about it?
I recently came across an article ‘hope you’re well’ from Hunted (thanks Sarah for sharing with me) and it hit home, how often do we start an email ‘hope you’re well’ (do we really care, does it sound like we do? No….) ‘hope you’re well’ is really skimming passed that all important question, the one we should be asking more of ‘how are you?’.
Asking someone how they are means you care. Asking them sincerely and often can build trust and usually you can tell a lot from the answer of this question, if not from their word but by their tone alone. 1 in 6 workers experience depression, anxiety or stress at any one time in the workplace. Up to a staggering £42 Billion is spent on managing mental health problems in UK businesses each year alone and the biggest cause of long-term sickness in the UK is stress.
Given these facts, we all need to be doing more to check in with our colleagues and we can do this by simply asking them how they are.
So, here’s the idea, the ‘how are you’ campaign, a call to action if I may. I ask of you, to ask, meaningfully, sincerely, how someone is at work today, and everyday. Build trust, open up and have on-going dialogues about mental health and well-being.
While the researchers and employers continue to find ways of tackling mental health at work, one thing’s for certain: Starting a unexpected conversation with your boss or asking a coworker how they are doing today will start, at the very least, to break down these barriers and and has potential to improve someone else’s day, too.