Encourage Employees To Ask For Help

An African saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But if helping each other is so vital to success, why is it so hard to ask?


According to research, people are reluctant to seek help due to fear of rejection or not receiving useful support. Likewise, we don’t want to be seen as incompetent or feel obligated to return a favour.

However, forward-thinking leaders know seeking help not only makes business sense, but it’s also good for employees. A study determined those who seldom seek help were more likely to have low levels of job satisfaction, performance and engagement.

Plus, it’s in our very nature as humans to help. Giving make us happy. And good managers know, happy workers means a high-performing workplace.

But, how can you encourage employees to seek help? Here are five ways:

Identify and eliminate barriers

Be observant. Could someone in your team benefit from working more closely with others? What’s restricting them from seeking help? Does your team believe individual effort trumps teamwork?

The reasons for avoiding help will vary, whether it’s a fear of being labelled incompetent or not wanting to feel indebted, remove the barriers.

Offer and seek help

Lead by example. Offer support without expecting anything in return. It helps ease concerns that you buy into the ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ mentality. And be willing to accept help! Ask for help and let your employees see the value in sharing expertise and enjoying the results together.

Create opportunities for cooperation

Find out if team members have challenges they can’t solve alone. Then, suggest someone who might be able to help. You can even offer to give the person a heads-up, that’s particularly useful for helpers who are unacquainted or at different career levels.

Doing this builds trust. After all, workers trust people their leaders believe. It, in turn, eliminates doubt towards the quality of support or the person providing help.

Recognise helpers

Regularly highlight positive outcomes achieved by helping each other. Tie these achievements back to your organisation’s goals or mission to allow your team to see value.

Take it a step further and save a spot at your regular meeting, town hall or team catch-up to mention notable collaborations. It encourages asking for help because your people look to you as a guide for acceptable behaviour—including your attitude towards seeking and receiving assistance. Make it easy to ask

Finally, create channels for requesting help. In larger organisations, it’s not always easy to find the right people to help. So, try introducing a digital (or physical) ‘help needed’ board, on your intranet or in break rooms.

Don’t forget to make yourself available to your team members. If contacted for help, don’t delay in responding.