Firstly what is RAW?
To be RAW means being Real At Work ….. Which is something that could highly benefit both employees and employers. No matter the industry you're in, or the role you play, there is no denying that real-life issues, more often than not follow us into the workplace. Whether it be an argument that happened the night before a busy day in the office, or whether it’s a bigger issue that is having a constant impact on your mental health. With the importance of understanding and supporting mental health growing, businesses should be introducing ways of identifying the effects of real-life issues on their staff and learning how to support and understand them.
When real-life issues take their toll, they affect more than just ones home life or social life, it can affect the way they work, or at least how they feel about work. If someone is distracted or struggling with issues outside of the workplace, it can ultimately affect their motivation, their ability to engage, and their overall performance. Many real-life issues could be affecting you and your feelings towards work, such as; divorce, grief, eating disorders, or substance abuse. These are all real-life situations that shouldn't be passed judgement on, should be understood, supported, and helped.
This is why employers need to be transparent and open with their employees so that they can be honest about their life and how they may affect them in the workplace. People are far more likely to work harder and more responsively to a leader that they feel respects their needs, and that they can trust and be open with about their real-life issues.
So, how can I support someone who is dealing with issues in my workplace?
Know what to look out for
The first step to being able to help your employees is by knowing what signs to look out for. By creating good working relationships with your employees you should be able to easily identify when something is wrong. Rather than an employer who doesn't know their staff's personalities, they may not notice differences. So by establishing good relationships, where your staff feel they can be open with you, you should be able to identify when there is a problem.
As well as individual personality changes, and the difference you may notice, there are also generic signs you should look out for which could point to problems like substance abuse, or an eating disorder.
Consider these warning signs ;
- Unexplained or more frequent absences
- Noticeable changes in behaviour
- Unexplained reduction in productivity
- Clumsiness or increased accidents
- Changes in personal appearance and hygiene
- Excessive eating or noticeable lack of eating
- Excessive agitation
- Tiredness and difficulty concentrating
- Withdrawal or isolation
- Obsessive behaviour
Once you’re able to identify these signs, you can begin addressing the problem and offering the best support to that person.
Luckily conversations around mental health are on the rise, so businesses are becoming more open about conversations surrounding mental health and its effects, yet many subjects are still overshadowed and overlooked even though they can have just as much of an impact as physical health problems. Ignorance towards the effects of real-life issues will contribute to the lack of support and knowledge on the subject in the workplace - which is a necessity. Without adequate support in place, the effects can disrupt everyday life greatly, so ensuring that there is practice in place to support staff in a way that allows them to feel understood.
If you suspect someone is struggling then you should ensure that there is a conversation had to let them know you are there for them, and that you support them. Once the severity of the issue is understood you can then decide on the best solution, whether it be a lesser workload, time off work, or weekly catch-ups - by providing your employees with these options, and openness you allow them to feel seen.
Educate your employees
An important part of being a leader who is RAW is by having a team that follows the same morale. All of the members of your team must be taught that they are allowed to communicate and be open about their experiences, as well as how to communicate with those who may be suffering from real-life issues.
Of course, not everyone is expected to take on the role and skills of an office counsellor, but encouraging understanding and informing staff of the process in which a situation as such would be dealt with, will encourage them to be more open, and teach them how to respond to others. This type of communication and training could be implemented through workplace workshops or online training courses.
If you're looking to understand how to introduce being RAW into your workplace, The Great British Workplace Wellbeing sessions will be covering the topic, and why it is an important factor in making your workplace successful.
This session will cover topics such as addiction, eating disorders and other issues individuals may face - discussing how this can affect the workplace, and how management can implement best practices to support their staff. Taking place Wednesday 2nd March.
14:35-15:15 - RAW: Adressing real-life issues in the workplace
James Hitchen (He/Him) | Addiction & Eating Disorder Specialist