Published on Jul 25, 2017

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RUOK? Nope I stuffed up.

Source: Wikimedia


What if your boss didn’t care if you made a massive stuff-up in your job? Would more flexibility around risk taking encourage you to be more creative, innovative, and more productive in your job?

If your boss comes down hard on mistakes, they might be inhibiting innovation in their workplace, but also impacting employee wellbeing.

New research suggests younger workers are the most affected by mistake related stressors at work.

Of those surveyed, 36% of 25-34 year old workers are concerned that a mistake at work will be held against them. Comparatively, only 12% of workers aged over 45 felt the same way.

In particular, younger workers in the study were more at risk of workplace stress as they found it significantly harder to ask for help from colleagues than the more mature workers.

The combination of social isolation in the workplace combined with discomfort of erring on the job means more needs to be done to protect the psychological safety of employees, particularly for younger workers.


The research by RUOK and iCare recommends businesses begin to implement policies to build greater interpersonal relationships and trust within the workplace with boundless benefits including increased productivity.

The study suggests businesses develop policies to ensure the “psychological safety” of employees in Australian businesses.

Asking RUOK at work

Aviation executive and former chief executive of Jetstar Australia, David Hall, has been working with RUOK to improve mental health in workplaces. He suggests businesses should prioritise empathetic and supportive conversations with employees.

“When people are supported emotionally, the payback you get is very large. Make the time, it is the best use of your time — people should value the time with their people and the productivity that comes with engaging with your team will pay back multiple times.”

RUOK recommends:


  • We can all make a difference to anyone who’s struggling by having regular, meaningful conversations about life up’s and down’s
  • If your gut says something’s up with someone you know, take the time to ask them how they’re going
  • You don’t have to be an expert to have a caring, meaningful conversation
  • Once you ask them “Are you ok?”, listen without judgement, encourage action and make sure you check in with them again soon
  • You don’t have to fix their problem or take away their pain, you just need to help them feel supported and show you really care by carefully listening to them

Thursday September 14, 2017 is RUOK Day, national day of action dedicated to encouraging everyone to connect with the people they care about. Help start more conversations this year, and make a difference. Visit for tips on how to start a conversation.