A Manager’s Guide to Employee Check-ins


March 15, 2024

Taryn Hart

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X min

5 min

A comprehensive checklist to help build stronger manager-employee relationships.

Table of Contents

National Stress Awareness Month, observed every April, is dedicated to raising awareness about stress, its effects on our mental and physical health, and how to manage it effectively. This observance is crucial, especially in the context of workplace culture and well-being.  

How stress impacts the workplace

Stress significantly impacts employees' health, productivity, and overall quality of life. Stress can lead to a range of health issues, including anxiety, depression, heart disease, and a weakened immune system, among others. It can also become costly for organizations if employees are taking leave or turning over, due to high levels of stress and burnout.  

To acknowledge Stress Awareness Month and better support your employees, workplaces should encourage managers and leaders to adopt better stress management techniques. By providing your managers with the right tools and resources for their teams, they can learn more about their people’s workloads, how to manage it and address sources of high stressors before it’s too late.  

What are employee check-ins?

Employee check-ins are regular, one-on-one meetings between a manager and an employee designed to discuss the employee's performance, challenges, workload, well-being, and any other work-related issues. Unlike traditional performance reviews, which are often formal and may occur annually, check-ins should be frequent, informal, and conversational.

The frequency and format of check-ins can vary depending on the organization's culture, the nature of the work, and the preferences of the manager and employee. However, the underlying goal is to create a supportive dialogue that promotes employee engagement, well-being, happiness and productivity.  

How to check-in with your employees

Regular check-ins with employees are a critical component of effective management, particularly when focusing on employee well-being and workload. These meetings provide a dedicated space for open, honest communication, allowing managers to understand the challenges their team members face and offer necessary support.  

Managers should ensure these conversations are consistent, focused, and tailored to individual needs, to build trust and demonstrate a genuine commitment to their team's well-being and professional growth.  

We’ve put together some best practices in a comprehensive checklist to help guide you through your employee check-ins:

Pre-Meeting Preparation

  1. Review Previous Meetings: Quickly go through notes from past meetings to track ongoing issues or progress.
  1. Gather Feedback: If applicable, collect feedback from colleagues who work closely with the employee to understand their current work dynamics.
  1. Set an Agenda: While focusing on mental health and workload, prepare to be flexible if the employee brings up other concerns.
  1. Create a Welcoming Atmosphere: Start with a casual conversation to make the employee feel comfortable.

Employee Mental Health Check-In

Here are some examples of questions about mental health you can ask during employee check-ins. It's essential to approach these discussions with empathy, recognizing the unique circumstances and needs of each employee.

  1. "How are you feeling lately, both inside and outside of work?"
  1. "Have there been any recent changes in your life affecting your well-being?"
  1. "What aspects of your job are currently causing you the most stress?"
  1. "How manageable do you find your current work-related stress?"
  1. "Do you feel supported by your team and the broader company?"
  1. "Are there additional supports or resources you feel could help you manage better?"
  1. "How are you finding the balance between work and personal time?"
  1. "Are there any challenges you're facing in maintaining a healthy work-life balance?"

Workload Assessment

Here are questions you can ask about your employee’s current workload:  

  1. "How do you feel about your current workload?"
  1. "Are there specific tasks or projects that feel overwhelming or unmanageable?"
  1. "Do you need help with prioritizing your tasks?"
  1. "Are there any deadlines that are causing concern?"
  1. "Do you have the resources and tools needed to effectively manage your workload?"
  1. "Is there any additional support from the team or myself that you need?"
  1. "How are you finding the tasks assigned to you? Are they aligned with your skills and interests?"
  1. "Is there any task you wish to delegate or share with a team member?"

Closing the Meeting

  1. Actionable Steps: Summarize the main points discussed, any actionable steps and timelines for follow-ups.  
  1. Open Door Policy: Reiterate your availability for support and encourage the employee to come forward anytime they need assistance or wish to discuss further issues.
  1. Schedule Next Meeting: Agree on a preferred day and time for check-ins to occur regularly.  

Improving manager-employee relationships

Strong manager-employee relationships built on mutual respect, trust, and open communication serve as the foundation for team cohesion, employee engagement, and overall job satisfaction. When managers and employees have a solid rapport, it leads to a more transparent exchange of feedback, allowing for constructive discussions on performance, expectations, and growth opportunities.  

How to measure manager-employee relationships

Organizations should conduct regular pulse surveys to assess the impact of initiatives like encouraging regular manager-employee check-ins. Understanding the feedback your employees provide can help reassess workloads, improve communication and working arrangements, and foster a supportive and inclusive environment.

Effective manager-employee relationships can significantly reduce workplace stress, enhance problem-solving capabilities, and facilitate easier navigation through organizational changes.  

Investing in these relationships not only boosts individual and team performance but also contributes to a more resilient and adaptable organization. By prioritizing the development of strong connections with their employees, managers can unlock the full potential of their teams, driving innovation and success.  

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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