How can I support my colleagues?

Looking out for one another at work is always a good thing. 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. 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 working from home 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.

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 or worries about family or friends, can help to remind colleagues that they are not alone in this and it is normal to find things 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, 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 difficult situations.

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.

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