Why eliminating start and finish times is the next workplace revolution

Published in ABC News 15th December 2020

Clinical Services Director at AccessEAP Marcela Slepica says that COVID has shown that working remotely has been successful for many industries and types of businesses, although notable exceptions include essential and frontline workers.

"The transition into working from home has taught organisations about the possibilities and productivity of employees in roles which do not have fixed start and finish times," she says.

"These learnings can be adapted to accommodate employees with disabilities and chronic illness."

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Clear Communication - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

In recent newsletters, I’ve highlighted a consistent theme – clear and kind communication. In 2020, being clear about what we require from those around us is what moved us forward in this year of uncertainty.

As 2020 gets ready to shuffle off into history, it’s time to cast a glance around at what has been important this year. Putting people first in terms of protecting their health, safety and ability to keep working has been front and centre for most organisations. Organisations who have staff working away from their offices tell us about prioritising team connections while being separated. Not just employee briefings but also birthday celebrations and family moments, and re-creating informal time where smaller groups log in with a cuppa and just talk. Like people used to do informally in the lunchroom.

Thank goodness Australia’s response – and particularly the bravery of Melbourne – has led to some sort of normality returning. Most of our offices have been welcoming staff back in – in staggered at-work and work-from-home rosters. It’s such a relief to hear laughter in the lunchroom again.

This feels like a time to reflect on how important kind, as well as clear communication, is. How you talk and write is as important as what you say or write. Emotion is transmitted as we communicate. Think how heated conversations about masks, protests, and overseas elections can become. So taking the time to pause and consider the emotional understory of our communications is paramount.

Caring communication is not just about what you say. It benefits people when you just listen. If someone is struggling, ask how they are, and just listen. A lot of us want to fix things – give people a solution to a problem that they still might not fully understand. Rather than give advice, just let them tell their story. Our clinical staff often say that their best work happens in the sessions where they talk the least. Letting someone talk though issues allows them to understand their situation. Understanding and relief follow.

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Support through the Festive Season 2020

AccessEAP wishes you all the best for the Festive Season. We appreciate the opportunity to work with you and look forward to a brighter 2021. We would like to thank you for continuing your partnership with us. Through supporting your people through this challenging year, you have helped make the lives of more than just your people a little easier.

For more information about the H.O.P.E. Program, supporting vulnerable children & families, see here.

Please be assured our counselling and onsite services are available 24/7, 365 days a year however our other business functions observe the Australian public holidays and a short break from 25th December to 8th January 2021.

Managing Loneliness

Why is it that we can feel lonely in a crowd? How can we feel lonely when we have so many “friends” on social media or apps? The fact is, feeling connected to others depends on the quality of our relationships and how we think about them – loneliness is perceived social isolation. It is normal to feel lonely sometimes, just as it is normal to feel sad or anxious or tired or hungry. However, loneliness becomes a problem when it causes us distress or impacts our ability to get on with everyday life. Although simply “getting out there” and meeting people may be enough for some, for others this may not be enough. Many people live with chronic loneliness and may require a more considered approach in order to feel more socially connected.

1. Accept that sometimes feeling lonely is a normal part of life. Loneliness is a feeling. As with any feeling, loneliness serves a purpose. Rather than viewing loneliness as something bad, we can interpret it as a signal – it motivates us to maintain or repair our relationships. Once we acknowledge that loneliness is a signal and accept it as a normal part of life, we can then attempt to get on with everyday life despite feeling lonely.

2. Monitor your loneliness in different situations. Keep a diary, recording how lonely you feel at different points throughout the day (give it an “intensity rating” out of 10). After a week or two, you may notice patterns in terms of how lonely you feel across different situations.

3. Recognise the power of thoughts. Reflect on the thoughts that run through your head and how they may influence what you do or how you feel. 

4. Be aware of your own behaviour. If you feel anxious about social situations or believe you need to keep your distance to protect yourself, you may tend to avoid forming new social connections. Even though it may feel uncomfortable, try doing something different – talk to your neighbour, join a club, go to a party, eat your lunch in the common area at work.

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Harness Flexibility

COVID-19 continues to surprise us with how quickly things can change. Last week, our government leaders were talking about bringing down all interstate travel restrictions in time for Christmas. Now, as Melbourne emerges from their extended physical distancing, our thoughts are with those people in South Australia as they go into their own heightened physical distancing. The stand-out lesson for all of us throughout the year is a constant need to adapt quickly to what's going on around us. Our ability to cope with change, be resilient and deal with uncertainty and the unknown have been front and centre for everyone.

Appropriately, flexibility is a word with many meanings.  What flexibility means to you and your people is important to discover and define. Everyone can benefit from building their flexibility, as being be flexible helps us draw on our other strengths, such as resilience. As leaders, demonstrating that we are flexible and responsive to each of our people and teams, and drawing on this strength improves our people's work/life balance, levels of trust, creativity, productivity and ultimately retain and grow our people. We've created two new tools that highlight the benefits and challenges involved with strengthening flexibility across a number of personal and organisational areas. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

Earlier this month we turned our spotlight to highlighting the real issue of domestic and family violence, I would like to acknowledge the observance of White Ribbon Day this month and a very special announcement - AccessEAP has received White Ribbon Accreditation. To achieve accreditation, we successfully met 15 criteria under three standards and are now recognised as a workplace that is taking active steps to stop violence against women. Learn more here.

To say workspaces are evolving in response to the pandemic is probably an understatement. Flexibility is just one aspect which has been accelerated. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

 

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels
 

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AccessEAP is now a White Ribbon accredited workplace

AccessEAP is proud to announce that we have successfully completed the White Ribbon Australia Workplace Accreditation Program.

The program, facilitated by community service organisation Communicare, involves a whole of organisation commitment to address issues of gendered violence and sexual harassment against women.

It’s a great honour to be a White Ribbon Australia Workplace and to play our part in responding to and ending violence against women. We took part in the accreditation process because we wanted to equip our staff with the knowledge and resources to better understand what gendered violence is, how to identify it and what they can do to prevent it. Whether in the workplace, or broader community, we all have a responsibility to stand up and speak out against behaviours that contribute to gendered violence, support women affected by it, and hold perpetrators accountable.

At AccessEAP, we strive for an inclusive and safe working environment for staff at all levels of our organisation. The White Ribbon Australia accreditation process has strengthened that internal culture.

To achieve accreditation, we had to meet 15 criteria under three standards to create a safer and more respectful workplace which is taking active steps to stop violence against women. The program is internationally recognised and to date has reached more than 600,000 employees nationally. As explained by White Ribbon Australia Executive Director Brad Chilcott, “Violence against women impacts on the health and safety of employees, their wellbeing and their productivity. It also has a negative impact on workplace culture, organisational reputation and bottom-line profit and loss."

At AccessEAP we are proud to join more than 240 Australian workplaces who have achieved accreditation. We stand by White Ribbon Australia who urges all Australian workplaces to undertake the accreditation process and demonstrate a culture of zero tolerance of violence against women. White Ribbon Australia is a part of a global social movement working to eliminate gendered violence, striving for an Australian society where all women and children are safe, including in our workplaces.

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Senior Clinician - Sydney based

  • Relationship development focus
  • Let your passion and commitment shine

Due to continued growth, we are expanding the clinical services team and need a passionate and committed professional to help ensure the provision of best practice counselling and ancillary services that meet or exceed customer and client expectations.

Your role will be to develop strong relationships with key customers to understand their needs and work on tailored solutions to solve specific or complex people issues.  You will provide a range of clinical services including: Face to Face, telephone and emergency counselling, mediation, manager support, critical incident response, EAP briefings and webinars. Additionally, you will work with the broader team to build relationships and provide quality services such as consulting, coaching and reflective supervision.

With a degree in Psychology or Social Work and professionally registered, your track record of success will reflect your impartial and insightful thinking capabilities. You will be adept at engaging with a broad range of people, comfortable working autonomously, and respond well under pressure to balance multiple priorities.

Your key skills will include your rapport building, analysis, judgment and outstanding interpersonal skills. Most importantly you will enjoy working in a team environment that is driven by respect, collaboration and accomplishment. AccessEAP takes the health of employees seriously and you will be working in an environment that genuinely cares about the wellbeing of all employees.

For more information call David Williams on 0414 551 795 or to apply to send your resume to dwilliams@kurtispaige.com.au.

NAIDOC Week 2020

This year due to the pandemic NAIDOC Week was celebrated from November 8-15th; however, some groups decided to celebrate at the usual time in July. We are certainly in need of reasons to celebrate and NAIDOC week provides a great opportunity for all Australians. NAIDOC Week marks an important time for First Nations Peoples as it’s a time of celebration and connection with each other, community and country, symbolising respect, sharing of culture, a time of reflection, healing and pride for all Australians.

Non First Nations leaders in Australia can feel unsure and worried about how to develop cultural sensitivity and ways to learn and nurture relationships with cultural respect. With Cultural Awareness, listening, learning and making a commitment to increasing our knowledge and cultural sensitivity are important steps toward building confidence and cultural competence. It is a journey and requires commitment, patience and effort with great rewards.

This week the spotlight is turned on strengthening understanding of the rich cultural history, heritage and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and celebrate together with First Nations Employees or organisations. Our new tools focus on how you and your people can move forward in the area of cultural competence at an organisational level but also on a very practical personal level. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

As part of our journey toward cultural competency at AccessEAP non First Nations Employees completed Arilla Cultural Competency training earlier this year. We found that straight away we were better equipped to understand that cultural competency is an ongoing journey. This led to the launch of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Dedicated Support Line, which I encourage you to make use of and learn more about here

     

Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.

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Complex Conflict

There is undoubtedly a sense of relief as we see our friends and colleagues in Victoria getting many of their freedoms back. We have seen a rise in feelings of optimism and more positive emotions replacing feelings of disempowerment, isolation or hopelessness experienced in recent weeks. What we’re also seeing is a rise in more complex conflict and to a greater degree than what’s been experienced before. Conflict over more issues simultaneously, and increasingly shifting from person to person to team-based conflict.

Great leaders know how to foster and manage conflict in ways that help individuals and teams realise that conflict when engaged in positively, can be enormously empowering for individuals and teams. However, left unchecked and unresolved, it can lead to frustration and reduced productivity. As a leader, when to step in and when to let the team learn and grow from conflict is not an easy call to make.

As a leader, it is vital to role model positive behaviours, manage your emotions, listen to your people, understand what is driving stress and be open about what those drivers are. You are then better equipped to have open conversations, try to simplify the issues and use conflict situations to move forward. We have spoken recently about harnessing conflict for positive change; however, this week’s leader and personal tools address team-based conflict and strategies for your people to apply in situations where complex conflict is becoming a problem. We've created new Tools focusing on team-based conflict and strategies for dealing with conflict. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

If we can take something positive from the events of this year, it may just be that we have had to adapt quickly and take a good look at the way we work; what works and what we can leave behind when we imagine the new work environments we will create post-COVID. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Responding to Domestic and Family Violence during the Pandemic

When I think about the statistics on domestic and family violence, it’s hard to understand the numbers. It’s even harder to think about the real-life impact of what has occurred and is occurring right now. If at least 1 in 61 women is affected, there could be victims and perpetrators somewhere in any of our workplaces or personal lives. Could it be that they are very good at hiding what is going on? How do we make sure that as leaders we are doing all we can to ensure that those impacted by domestic violence feel psychologically safe and able to seek support? Last week our spotlight was on trust. Trust is vital in helping support our people who may be impacted by domestic and family violence. Our role is to facilitate support, we are not expected to have all the answers, and in many cases there will not be a solution.

This week we turn our spotlight on supporting people across all organisations to respond to domestic and family violence during the pandemic.

The 25th of November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with White Ribbon Day on Friday, 20th November.  At AccessEAP, we strongly support these awareness days, particularly with the severity and frequency of domestic violence reported increasing as a result of the pandemic2. Often the workplace is known to provide a safe place for victims of domestic and family violence. Working from home and other restrictions has increased isolation and the natural circuit breaker that leaving the home provides for both victim and perpetrator. Organisations have a vital role to play by raising awareness of this issue, understanding when and how to offer support, and addressing attitudes in the workplace which perpetuate domestic violence. 

We recognise that this is a topic which causes unease and we appreciate you taking the time to think about this very hard topic. However, there are things you can do that will help and make it easier for victims as well as those supporting victims, we've created two new tools to assist you. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

At AccessEAP, we are sensitive and equipped to deal with the complexities of all forms of violence (domestic, family and intimate partner) that may occur. We encourage you to reach out for support, especially at this difficult time given the unique pressures created by the pandemic. We offer Psychological Counselling and 1-1 Support, as well as Domestic and Family Violence training offerings.  Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

 

References

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/domestic-violence/overview
https://www.aic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-07/sb28_prevalence_of_domestic_violence_among_women_during_covid-19_pandemic.pdf

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Cultivating Trust

This week we are really pleased to see restrictions eased in Victoria. We want to acknowledge the sacrifices that people have made, as it has been a very challenging time. It’s also important to call out the strengths that people have shown throughout this - resilience, endurance and trust. Victorians in workspaces across the state have had to reach out for help and trust that their colleagues including those in other states would be there for them. 

This experience in particular, and the pandemic in general, highlights the importance of trust. We have seen world leaders rated in terms of trust and the success of their efforts fighting COVID-19 directly relate to whether their people trust that they are equipped to successfully lead them. We have seen how invaluable having the trust of your people is when uncertainty and change are the only constants.

We're turning our spotlight on trust and building trusting teams.

The positive traits are great foundations to build upon. Optimism, realism, hope, self-belief and trust are traits that help us survive and then thrive. Trust is a critical leadership lifestyle and one that can not be switched off and on. As leaders, we need to consistently support an environment where our people can trust us and each other. Allowing people to be their natural best, displaying vulnerability and asking for help when they need it builds on the strength and potential of individuals and teams.

We've created new Tools focussing on ways to build trust and the importance of self-trust. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

At AccessEAP, we work hard to ensure we are trusted to provide confidential support in a safe environment where people can be their authentic self and ask for help without fear of judgement. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

 

Photo by fauxels from Pexels
 

Navigating Change - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

The amount and pace of change in the world is accelerating. Every leadership book talks about how the pace of change will continue to increase, and organisations who do not embrace change will be left behind. This is also true for those of us who have transitioned to working from home at a rapid rate. Now almost all people that we talk to can log onto a Zoom session and speak to their doctor via the phone.

As leaders, we need to think about our own responses to change and our employee's responses, and plan for both. There are change management courses and consultants for a reason, and that is because change is hard. We are told communicate your vision, communicate the changes and to take employees on a journey – all great advice – but most people think "what does the change mean for me?" and that will dictate their response. How we as leaders respond to their response will impact on how successfully the change is negotiated.

In organisations, the landscape is constantly evolving so we use change management models to create, plan out and communicate our vision to adapt to developing markets or new regulations. Steven Covey, of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote that we need to "Begin with the end in mind" but I would add that we need to be ready to pivot in the face of developments and redesign the plan, reconsider what that 'end' goal looks like. Being fast and flexible is more than ever, a key component of change as organisations and employees are being asked to reconsider what normality is on a daily basis. At AccessEAP, we increased our Executive Leadership Huddles to daily briefs at the height of the pandemic to allow for this fast and flexible approach.

While we know that communication is always key to effective management, we have heard the stories where organisations faced restructures or changing markets but didn't see the staff as the first port of call. Effective change management requires you to be the information conduit, understand the vision and why it is required, and ensuring that everyone involved has a comprehensive picture of where you are all heading.

As leaders, we have responsibilities to our own managers, boards and shareholders, so they need to know where we are moving our organisation. They pay the piper, and so of course we need to show them how their investment is moving to the most secure and profitable future. But our biggest investment is the people on who we rely on to be on this journey with us.

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Self-Care and Managing Stress

See our 10 Tips on Self-care and Managing Stress below. 

It is important to remember that feeling anxious, fearful, stressed, angry or irritable are common and normal feelings during uncertain times like these. It is important to monitor your own physical and mental health.

For assistance or more information on our Stress Awareness and Building Resilience Training offerings, speak with your Relationship Manager today. To download a copy of this Wellbeing Postcard and more visit the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.

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AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away
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indig_flags.jpg

AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away.