How can I support my colleagues?

5 min read

Looking out for one another at work is always a good thing, and is particularly important right now.  Working in a supportive and cohesive team can protect us when we’re working in high stress and high pressure environments. 

Do your best to maintain the routines and structures, both formal and informal, that work for you and your colleagues in normal times. Protect time for team activities; formal meetings and informal coffee breaks, either in real life and virtually. If Wednesday was the day you all had a breakfast roll together, then try to still do this. These routines and this informal social support are at the heart of what keeps us well at work. 

Remember to include colleagues who are self -isolating or shielding as it will help them to continue to feel informed and a part of the team. If you have new colleagues, take time to get to know them. For people who have been shielding and are now coming back to join you in the workplace, here are some tips put together by our colleagues in NHS Forth Valley: Supporting colleagues returning to the workplace after shielding. 

It’s likely that you may be feeling similar emotions or struggling with similar things to your colleagues so it can help to have informal chats either before/after or during your shift. Sharing some of what you’re experiencing, for example, stress, missing the routine you used to have, worries about family or friends, or talking about ways you have adapted to life at the moment, can help to remind colleagues that they are not alone in this and it is normal to find thing difficult. It may also help to inform colleagues of support that is out there, for example this website. 

If you would like more information on how to effectively support those around you during this time, click here for a presentation on Psychological First Aid (PFA). PFA is based on a set of principles that we know help people to cope with and recover from ongoing situations like those arising from COVID19. There’s an e-learning  module designed to teach the principles of PFA to anyone who is delivering health or social care which you can access here. 

You might notice that a colleague seems more stressed than usual and see changes in their mood (irritable, tearful) or their behaviour (making mistakes at work, not joining in with banter). If you think a colleague is having a difficult time, it is important to know that there are many things you can do, that don’t need to take up much time in order to do them. 

You could ask if they would like a tea break and simply ask something along the lines of “how are you doing at the moment?”, or say something like “things are a bit stressful at the moment aren’t they?” They may not open up there and then, and that’s OK, but it will let them know that you are someone they can turn to if they want to in the future. If they do open up to you, you do not need to try to counsel them or solve their problems. Listening is powerful in itself, and sometimes just knowing that someone cares is enough.  Remember you can signpost them to this website for tips on coping and/ or to find information about sources of help. 

If you would like more information on how to effectively support those around you during this time, click here for a presentation on Psychological First Aid (PFA). PFA is based on a set of principles that we know help people to cope with and recover from ongoing situations like those arising from COVID19. There’s an e-learning  module designed to teach the principles of PFA to anyone who is delivering health or social care which you can access here. 

Welcome to the Hub. We hope you’ll find the support you’re looking for. To help us improve the site and make it relevant to you, please take a minute to answer a few quick questions. Thank you.

Give us feedback