Great leaders create a culture of genuine care

20 August 2018

R U OK?Day is a great way to ensure people check in with and care for their colleagues’ mental health each September. But the best workplaces – and best leaders – make sure their organisation supports their workers’ mental health for all 365 days of the year.

Workplace mental health can be profoundly impacted by its leaders, so it’s important that managers create and constantly maintain the R U OK?Day culture of care including trust, respect and fairness. R U OK?Day is the perfect starting point for conversations about whether your workplace is mentally healthy and checking that people are being looked out for every day.

To do this, leaders need to ensure they are creating a psychologically safe workplace, which protects employees’ mental health and prevents mental injury. Psychologically safe workplaces allow workers to feel comfortable and confident to speak their mind and express any new ideas or concerns they may have, without fear of being ignored, spoken down to or retribution. This is so important, Google rates psychologically safe workplaces as the number one business success indicator.

Creating such a workplace starts with good leadership all year round. Leaders need to be accessible, acknowledge their mistakes, show workers how to learn from failures and encourage requests for help and feedback.


Handy tips to be a leader who creates psychological safety at work:
  • If you already do workplace physical safety checks, add in psychological checks as well. Under the Workplace Health and Safety Act, workplaces have a duty of care to manage risks arising from work that could result in physical or psychological harm. This could be as simple as spending five minutes every morning talking with your team about the hazards and risks in your workplace, and how to prevent harm
  • Actively promote your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and any other internal resources
  • Provide mental health and wellbeing training for your workers, including all managers to support their understanding of workplace mental health and supporting each other at work
  • Attend mental health seminars, lectures, events and training to understand workplace mental health
  • If employees come to you with a mental health initiative, actively support them to see it through to fruition
  • Let your employees know that they can come and speak to you about any mental health issues, anxiety or stress


According to Canada’s Simon Fraser University, the number one psychosocial organisational factor that impacts organisational health, the health of individual employees and the financial bottom line is psychological support, even ahead of organisational culture and clear leadership and expectations. Their website provides question-and-answer fact sheets about psychological risk factors in the workplace to be aware of. These will help you to see a clear link between the psychological wellbeing of workers to an organisation’s wellbeing.

R U OK?Day and other events like National Safe Work Month can be fantastic places to start when considering the psychological safety of your workplace, and what you can do to ensure your employees feel safe and supported at work.

If you’d like to have some resources around the workplace on the day, you can request hard copies of SuperFriend’s Peer Support Booklet and Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Workplace through our resources page.

R U OK?Day and other mental health awareness days can be difficult for people experiencing mental illness. We encourage you to consider these tips when planning for and speaking about your workplace event.


National 24/7 Crisis Support numbers
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 22 4636
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78


Youth Specific Services
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Headspace 1800 650 890


This article was featured in our monthly e-Newsletter SuperFriend News which provides practical advice for employers to in creating positive, cohesive and productive environments for all employees.