How to Have A Good Quality Wellbeing Conversation

Managers are being asked to have conversations around performance, conversations around sickness and now conversations around wellbeing.

There is a strong link between each of these but ultimately, they are all about having a good quality conversation.

Opening a conversation by asking the question, ‘How are you?’, will often get a ‘Fine thank you’ response. But asking the question twice, ‘But how are you really?’ will get a more honest response that may lead the person being asked to disclose more of what is really going on for them.

Managers often worry about asking these questions because is can open the lid on a can of worms and everything pours out leaving the manager unclear of where to turn.

Here Are Our Tips

  1. Being prepared before you start a wellbeing conversation is key. Think about the setting you choose and the amount of time you allocate – somewhere quiet where someone could open up, show their emotions if they feel the need to and not be rushed through the meeting.
  2. Make sure you take the contact details of your Employee Assistance Program (counselling service) if you have one. These details may be of value for the employee to receive. Let them know what they can use the service in work time.
  3. Read your stress/mental wellbeing policyand procedure and be aware that the conversation could lead into an individual stress risk assessment.
  4. Use the HELP Model:
  • Hazards– identify any workplace or personal issues impacting on the employees wellbeing.
  • Empathise with the employee – try and put yourself in their shoes and understand how they must be feeling. Be careful not to allow it to trigger things in your own experience and keep the conversation focused on theirs.
  • Listen– listen to what the employee is really saying. Take note of what is being communicated both verbally and non-verbally. Use open and probing questions to enable the employee to explain more about their situation.
  • Partner– jointly discuss possible forms of support/solutions that both they and you can take to maintain/improve their wellbeing.
  1. Make a record of the conversation/actions and book a follow-up meeting to see how the actions taking are impacting on the employee’s wellbeing.

The HSE have recently produced a toolkit for Stress Talking Toolkit that you can find on our Resources page at

If you would like to know more about the range of workshops and consultancy on building resilience to change in your organisation, please contact Sara Rawstron
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