By Julie Goh

Having difficult conversations with employees is never easy, what more if it is about the issue of mental health. These conversations require sensitivity, empathy, and a supportive approach. Here are some tips to navigate these conversations effectively:

  1. Choose the Right Setting: Find a private and comfortable location where the employee feels safe and at ease. Ensure no interruptions during the conversation.
  2. Plan Ahead: Prepare for the conversation in advance. Make notes of your concerns and key points you want to address to ensure you cover everything you need to discuss.
  3. Show Empathy and Understanding: Begin the conversation by expressing genuine concern for the employee's well-being. Use empathetic language and assure them that you are there to support them.
  4. Use Active Listening: Allow the employee to share their feelings and experiences without interruption. Practice active listening, maintaining eye contact and acknowledging their emotions.
  5. Avoid Making Assumptions: Avoid making assumptions about the specific issue the employee is facing. Let them share their story without judgement.
  6. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Use open-ended questions to encourage the employee to share their thoughts and feelings more openly.
  7. Be Non-Judgemental: Be non-judgemental and refrain from offering unsolicited advice. Your role is to listen, support, and provide resources, not to diagnose or solve their problems.
  8. Offer Support and Resources: Let the employee know about available resources, such as mental health services or counselling services, and explain the support the company can provide.
  9. Respect Confidentiality: Assure the employee that their conversation will remain confidential, except where necessary for providing support or complying with legal requirements.
  10. Follow Up: After the conversation, check in with the employee to see how they are doing and offer ongoing support, if needed.
  11. Offer Flexibility: If possible, provide the employee with flexibility in their work arrangements to accommodate their needs during their recovery or treatment.

Remember that your role is to listen, support, and guide the employee to appropriate resources. Approaching difficult conversations with empathy and compassion can make a significant difference in supporting an employee's well-being and fostering a culture of care and understanding in the workplace.