Company Culture, Employee Wellbeing | Article

How to Ask Your Coworkers How They’re Doing

Check-ins help foster belonging and connection. But could there be a right (and a wrong) way to ask coworkers how they’re doing?

Humans have the innate need to feel like they belong. Employees that feel like they belong are more motivated, productive, engaged, and 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their fullest potential, according to research at CTI. Yet the EY Belonging Barometer study found 40% of respondents were feeling physically and emotionally isolated in the workplace. Could simple check-ins be the solution?

But there’s good news too – 39% of respondents said they feel the greatest sense of belonging when their colleagues check in with them. That means you have some influence over how your coworkers are doing! We’ve compiled a few tips for the best ways to check in.

5 Check-In Tips

1. Seize the small moments 

Be present throughout the workday. The smallest moments can build up to the strongest connections! Frequently ask your coworkers simple questions to check-in. It could be “How are you doing?” or “How was your weekend?” Listen authentically and ask follow-up questions to communicate that you truly care.  

2. Send an eCard 

Some employees prefer connecting digitally and, in the case of remote workers, some have no other option. Utilize technology such eCards to check-in with your co-workers. If they’re sick, send an eCard to ask how they’re doing. If you know they’ve been going through something tough, send an eCard letting them know you’re thinking of them. Sometimes it can more impactful to sit down and craft a message then send it. 

3. Check-in during meetings 

Set aside a small chunk of time during meetings to check-in. Especially one-on-one meetings! You don’t need to write it into the agenda or carve out too much time. But it’s important to consciously remind yourself to check-in with people whether they’re peers, direct reports, and managers. Already scheduled meetings are a great time to do so when things seem to get crazy busy. 

4. Keep an open mind 

Check-ins are meant to be a time for listening to others’ perspectives. A coworker may share something you don’t understand or agree with, but keep an open mind and don’t be too quick to judge. Avoid inserting your own opinion. Rather, ask them to tell you more. You’d be surprised how a little bit of extra listening can widen your perspective and help you connect with the person sharing.  

5. Assume the best

Similarly, believe your colleagues mean well. Difficult topics and issues can sometimes surface during check-ins. Assuming positive intent gives you more empathy. It also helps you pause, ask more questions, and connect more meaningfully.

6. Embrace vulnerability

Check-ins with coworkers won’t do a whole lot of a good if they don’t answer truthfully. People need to be able to trust you, and there’s no better way to foster trust than through vulnerability. Get personal and share how you are doing, too. You’d be surprised at how others reciprocate that vulnerability! 

The path towards creating belonging and inclusion at work is never ending. You’ll need committed and caring leaders along the way. Start with simple things like a check-in. All employees have the power to check in with one another regardless of position or rank. That means you (no matter who you are) can make a difference in your coworkers’ lives.