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Advocating for an advocate

Having someone to talk to in your workplace is important
Empowering your employees to support the mental health of their workplace peers can take your workplace wellness strategy to even greater heights.

By Christi Malthouse

Change comes from within.

And just like personal growth and development, for a workplace environment to become, and remain, positive and productive, change needs to be driven from within. 

Appointing an advocate from inside the ranks to support the mental health and wellbeing of their workplace peers, empowers them to create genuine change. 

It is also an extremely effective tool in a workplace wellbeing program. One that is unique to the Readiness platform.

Taking that extra step in your workplace wellness strategy, by encouraging peer involvement, tells everyone that you are all aligned to the same message: your employees matter. The mental health and wellbeing of your employees matters. A positive and supportive culture within your workplace matters.

The Readiness advocacy program allows for all employees to have an advocate or “buddy” to check in with. Someone to ask: how are you? and really listen to the answer. It allows your employees to be seen and heard. To know that their mental health is a priority.

The appointed peer advocate has the ability to review the self-assessment surveys, looking out for red flags. They can offer a safe space for concerns to be aired, drop a note via the in-platform messaging system, or instigate referrals and remediations.

According to The Wellbeing Lab 2020 workplace report: “Studies found that feeling safe to share struggles with others related to greater levels of engagement, performance, job satisfaction, organisational commitment and wellbeing.”

“Unfortunately, eight out of every ten Australian workers reported feeling unsafe sharing their struggles at work. Almost one in five workers indicated they would never tell anyone they were struggling with their wellbeing, with workers who were really struggling less likely than other workers to seek help.” 

“Workers who spoke to no-one were statistically more likely to report lower levels of wellbeing ability, wellbeing motivation and psychological safety.”

This is why Readiness places such importance on its advocacy program. In addition to the self-assessments, wellbeing reports, education and referrals within its platform, the advocacy program provides a closer contact option for monitoring the mental health and wellbeing of individuals within the workplace. 

Not everyone is comfortable speaking candidly and openly with their managers or to the Human Resources team, so who would make a good advocate within your workplace? 

The first misconception is that the advocate must be a mental health professional. This is not true, because the advocate is not there to diagnose or treat their peers, but rather to be a trusted monitor. Someone to be a sounding board, to keep an eye out for your employees, to look for warning signs of mental health or wellbeing issues, and to be at the ready to instigate the Readiness referrals and remediations.

Readiness has found a successful advocate is typically someone who is:

  • Approachable
  • Trustworthy
  • Emotionally intelligent
  • Discrete
  • Has a genuine care for others

This could be a peer or colleague, or a friend or family member. It could also be an independent advocate.

Mental Health issues are very real in the world right now. Close to home, 1 in 5 Aussies are dealing with a mental health issue. The cost to Australian businesses is over $10 billion a year.

As there are several factors that can contribute to mental illness it is not linear, signs can vary, and people can hide how they are feeling. Communication is fundamental in determining when there is an issue and how to find help. 

So checking in with your employees is not only important, but it is also necessary that the act of checking in is genuine, regular and thorough. 

The Readiness platform allows you to regularly monitor employee mental health by providing your advocates with the data to facilitate conversations and help responses with those they are advocating for. 

And this is the key to an effective workplace wellbeing strategy.

To discover more about how the Readiness complete wellbeing platform can support the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, click here.