Tuesday, 03 October 2023 15:45

The Check in Conversation

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), line managers play a key role in supporting long-term absence in 61% of organisations and supporting short-term absence in 70% of organisations*.

Last week, we shared with you that sickness absence in the UK is currently the highest it has been for ten years. Minor illness is most commonly responsible for short-term absence while mental health, and stress are among the leading causes of long-term sickness absence.  

The CIPD equally states that a lack of manager skills and confidence are the most common challenges for employee wellbeing. Although they are responsible for supporting sickness in organisations, line managers appear to be lacking the confidence to fulfil their role.

Often, employees experiencing mental health challenges are struggling silently. It’s often the responsibility of their line manager to provide support and create a safe space for them to open up. However, this can be intimidating for the line manager to initiate such conversations. Equally, the employee might not be in the right frame of mind to open up.

A check in conversation is a simple method to demonstrate support. Whether the employee is ready for it or not, most will appreciate the line manager’s care and support for trying to start the conversation in the first place.

We would recommend:

  • Choosing a private and quiet place to have the conversation avoiding interruptions.
  • If you are unsure how to open the conversation, use “are you okay, I’ve noticed that…”.
  • Ask open and non-judgmental questions.
  • Encourage the person to talk, maintain good eye contact, listen actively.
  • Focus on the person and not the condition.
  • Seek advice and escalate if you need to.
  • Ask what support the person may need from the line manager.
  • Remember to follow up with the person through another meeting or catch up.

We would avoid:

  • Making assumptions.
  • Trying to guess what symptoms someone has or diagnosing illnesses.
  • Using phrases such as “it can’t be that bad, cheer up, don’t worry about it”.

In all cases, if the person is in a state of crisis. Call 999 or go directly to A&E if they are experiencing serious suicidal thoughts or feelings, thinking about harming themselves or someone else or experiencing symptoms of an acute underlying medical condition.  

Initiating check in conversations might be daunting but through empathy, understanding and support, line managers can help create a workplace culture that promotes good mental well-being and fosters a sense of belonging for all employees.

Equally, it is important that the managers receive adequate training to conduct regular check ins. Understanding the personal and professional challenges they can face can aid better overall support. Click here to take a look at our collection of mental health training for managers and the team to foster a mentally healthy culture. Alternatively, give us a call on 01452 331331 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


*Health and Wellbeing at Work, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Read 357 times Last modified on Tuesday, 03 October 2023 15:50


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