Positive approaches to wellbeing

One of the things we’ve found ourselves talking about a lot more recently is positive wellbeing and wellness. We’re actively sharing the things that bring us joy – and for us, that means lots of sharing photos of pets, wellbeing tactics that we’ve found valuable and our old or new creative hobbies.

We are all looking for new ways to not only genuinely support our people but to help them to thrive. We're turning our spotlight to looking outside the box to different ways to positively approach wellbeing. We’re talking about the positive power of creativity and the creative process! We've created tools on fostering creativity for thriving teams as well as a Postcard on Creativity for Wellbeing. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

The above postcard can be found in COVID-19 Support under AccessEAP Wellbeing Postcards in the Employer and Employee Login Areas.

Encouraging creativity has a number of beneficial effects on employees that can drive positive change in workplaces. If you have any questions or require support on how to approach this, reach out to us here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

R U OK? Day, Feat. Additional Parent Resources

It’s really timely that we are coming up to a series of wellbeing and wellness events. Women’s Health Week is at the start of September, along with R U OK? Day and then into October for the various states and territories’ Mental Health Week or Month. We can all do with a little bit of extra wellbeing support right now! What we’re hearing is a general sense of people doing their best to get by – and that’s the best any of us can do! What we’re really encouraged by is many of us have made R U OK? an everyday thing through the pandemic.

When we talk about Women’s Health Week, we often focus on prioritising and making time to look after ourselves. In a pandemic, this can be difficult as there are often many demands on parents, employees and caregivers (and these are just some of the roles that women play). Right now, parents of Year 12 students are experiencing the stressful trial exam period in the lead up to their final exams and the end of 13 years of schooling. These are emotional milestones and are being experienced under very difficult conditions for students across Australia and New Zealand.

The pandemic has highlighted to many people the need for everyone to maintain their wellbeing and connect with others. We're turning our spotlight to building on R U OK? Day in ways that support wellbeing for all of your people. We've created tools to help keep the R U OK momentum going as well as added a postcard to the new Parents tile in the Employer Login Area. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.  

Reach out to us here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Communication, keep it clear and simple

The ever-changing situation we face as leaders, be it lockdowns, a lack of clear timelines or increased restrictions, impacts all of us. We often talk about great leaders being forged, a process of transformation which hardens and strengthens. Is this a leadership approach that holds true anymore? What do our people and teams need? A leader who gets stronger and harder through the ongoing pressures of the pandemic? Or a leader who embraces their own humanity and acknowledges that it’s ok not to be ok and ask questions and listens to help find a way forward together? 

Throughout the pandemic, we have often found that if there is one thing we need to get right, it’s communication. Clear is kind, concise is kind. Clear, simple messages are often more appreciated as there is enough complexity and uncertainty in people’s lives. Mixed or conflicting messages can cause confusion through to distrust.

We've created Personal and Leader Tools that reinforce the importance of knowing your people and how they like to receive information and being clear and concise with messaging. The Leader Tool focuses on making sure you continue to be brave and have the important conversations that need to be had. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.  

Depending on the type of work we do, we may be spending 50-70% of our time in conversation with colleagues, customers, stakeholders and suppliers. It’s easy to forget what we know is best practice when we are stressed, anxious or tired. Reach out to us here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

The Power of Communication

Around the nation we continue to experience different levels of COVID related restrictions. We acknowledge how difficult it is for many Australians facing emotional and economic hardship and particularly the uncertain situation in NSW. With so much happening all at once, it’s timely to discuss what makes our communication good, or even better, great. Making sure that our messages are clear and our communication effective has been paramount during the pandemic. 

How amazing is a brilliant conversation? You feel connected, you feel you’ve been heard, progress was made, possibly a resolution reached, or outcome achieved. You may have moved from a place of unfamiliarity to understanding. There’s a real sense that something amazing happened. You also know when a conversation hasn’t gone well. You may feel remorse, regret, lost opportunity, fear of having to return to unfinished business. So how do we ensure we have more great conversations and less of the not so great? Is there a formula? Can we learn? Thankfully the answer is a resounding yes!

We're turning our spotlight to effective communication and why it is particularly relevant as we continue to face pandemic related challenges. It is also the next topic of our Wellbeing in Focus Calendar’s Communication quarterly theme. We've created tools that look at best practice and the various communication styles that are commonly used, and how to be aware when stress and anxiety affect styles. Each tool explores the topic from an individual and leader perspective. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.  

Reach out to us here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Counteracting unconscious bias in the workplace

Published in Echo Chamber Escape 23rd June 2021

Marcela Slepica, AccessEAP Director, Clinical Services explains, identifying your own unconscious biases is the first step to creating better inclusivity.

While we may think we are making decisions based on logic, as humans, we all make assumptions about other people. In fact, it only takes a tenth of a second for us to begin to form an opinion about someone we’ve only just met. 

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People In Focus: Film-maker Justin Rhys Grant creates video on healing for NAIDOC Week

At AccessEAP we are committed to developing cultural competency across our business. For us, that means providing the best possible experience for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers. By increasing our cultural awareness and knowledge of historical events impacting the nature of trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees today, we offer the opportunity to develop more culturally appropriate EAP holistic support services. In order for us to authenticate our commitment, AccessEAP is investing in the ongoing development of cultural sensitivity within our workforce by offering online Cultural Competency Training for all employees and through consulting with people such as Justin to increase our knowledge and understanding.

Justin Rhys Grant is a Walrpiri/Jawoyn man, a highly acclaimed and awarded actor, writer, producer and film director. Justin was born in Katherine, in the Northern Territory, and grew up listening to his Elders sharing their Dream Time stories from a young age. They always taught that a story is gifted to you and you must honour it’s life and respect it as a gift to you in your life journey.
Through his own company, Witchenini Entertainment, Justin brings his role as a story teller to life in film and television. Witchenini Entertainment offers proper Indigenous protocol training for all staff in order to gather and collect traditional stories in the right way, following the laws of communities and community engagement. “We hold high the Cultural Protocols and respect for each and every Indigenous People treating them as individuals”, Justin confirms.

Justin is working with AccessEAP on a number of projects and offered to create this short video to put into practice the ideas behind this year’s NAIDOC Week theme: Healing Country! It is a very personal sharing of his grandfather’s storytelling regarding ‘respect for differences of each culture’. His message is to find ways to work “on” Country for healing together. Justin’s manner is quiet and peaceful as he shares his personal experience and encourages us all to see how we can connect.


Please take some quiet time to watch this video and feel free to connect with Esmé Holmes our Senior Clinician/Cultural Inclusion & Diversity Consultant. You may also like to learn more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Dedicated Support Line.

Support through the Sydney stay-at-home order

As you are probably aware, NSW Health has issued a stay-at-home order for 4 Local Government Areas, including the City of Sydney. As a result of this notice, we have already implemented our business continuity plan to ensure we continue to provide support for our customers and their people.

We would like to take a moment to acknowledge the impact that organisations and people may be experiencing after today’s update from the NSW Premier. We appreciate that for many people this may be a time of heightened emotions, particularly as school holidays commence and for some, plans will need to change. We, as always, are here to support you through this. Tools and resources can be accessed via our website to support your mental health and wellbeing through the Employee and Employer login areas. Additional resources, including our Wellbeing Check, are also available on our app, AccessMyEAP.

Face to face appointments in our Bondi or Sydney office will be rescheduled and alternative arrangements will be provided for other face to face services, such as learning and development sessions. Critical incidents and onsite support will be assessed based on an individual basis to determine the best mode of support. 

Reach out to us here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Men still face stigma around getting help for mental health at work: Study

Published in Human Resources Director 24th June 2021

Speaking to HRD, Marcela Slepica, Clinical Services Director at AccessEAP, said despite positive progress, it’s clear that societal barriers to accessing support still exist and they’re particularly strong for men. The classic Aussie idiom of men ‘doing it tough’ only perpetuates the idea that asking for help is a sign of weakness – when in fact, it is often the bravest step a person can take.

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Leading through challenging times

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” This famous quote by author and educator Charles R. Swindoll, who was born in 1934, emphasises the importance of our attitudes in life, and how each morning when we wake up, we have a choice as to how we will approach the day. This is particularly relevant as we dig deep into our resilience reserves and face news of an extended lockdown in Victoria. It is natural for levels of anxiety to increase, but we can draw on the support we have in place and the great track record of our health departments. We have a choice as to how we will react to different and changing situations in our life.

There are ways to improve and adapt how we approach challenging situations if we find that we are not able to move forward. Positive psychology is the study of what makes life most worth living. It focuses on our strengths, building on what works and is good. When applied to change, it gives us an approach and a set of questions that help us to flourish. We've created tools that provide helpful tips when applying positive psychology to change and the essential leadership skills which will help navigate change in your organisation. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.  

Reach out to us here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Support through the Victorian Lockdown

The current situation in Victoria calls for recognition and support. If you are in Victoria, I’m sure you have already got a whole heap of texts, phone calls and emails. Messages from colleagues, loved ones and family members saying how sorry they are that we are in lockdown again or to offer personal support. These are anxious times for everyone as we all work together to avoid loss of life and economic hardship. We acknowledge that Victorians are bearing a heavy load right now.

For those offering support, if you aren’t entirely confident in your empathy skills, you may want to refer to these tips shared by our Melbourne team:

  • Avoid saying, “you’ve got this”.
  • Although your own lockdown experience gives you something to say, it can deflect from the person you are trying to support and let’s face it Victorians are kind of experts in this area.
  • Reminding people to count their blessings is unlikely to go down well. As Brene Brown puts it, “hurt is hurt”, and there are times when people need to have permission to complain about whatever they are missing out on.
  • Lastly, telling someone how to feel or what you think is going to happen next probably won’t be welcomed right now – Victorian’s are entitled to feel whatever they feel about this.

Lockdown means that some companies, organisations and industries put things “on hold” until the lockdown ends.  We encourage everyone to increase efforts to reach out and connect when you are able.  From a mental health perspective, social distancing should mean physical distancing rather than a lack of connection. 

To recognise this current tough lockdown, we are turning the spotlight on maintaining connection through the lockdown. One of our Clinical Psychologist's in Melbourne has created a personal tool to help support you - Let’s Make Lockdown Living Easier.  Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.

Leaders in lockdown also need to remember to look after themselves so that they can help their people, these tips are for you too. Reach out to here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Business leaders must keep mental health awareness top of the agenda

Published in Newcastle Herald 26th May 2021

Sally Kirkright, AccessEAP CEO

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Personal and Professional Growth

We would like to start by recognising the COVID situation in India and how that impacts family and friends in Australia. We would like to remind you that AccessEAP can be accessed in challenging times to help you with wellbeing and coping strategies.

Wellbeing has many facets. At AccessEAP we’ve created a Wellbeing Model based on our years of experience supporting mental health and wellbeing. A key element of our Wellbeing Model is what we call Professional and Personal Growth. This is all about your learning and development. We know that learning can take many different forms, such as training, coaching, mentoring, reading, watching educational videos, on the job learning, and much more. Skills, personal confidence, motivation and self-awareness all impact on our capacity to perform well in work. Positive mental health is a critical component of how we develop ourselves and our relationships with others. Personal and Professional Growth is about evolving and is the continuous process of growing yourself to realistically achieve your greatest ability. It is vital to your mental health, success, and happiness.

We're turning our spotlight to the important theme of professional and personal growth. We've created tools outlining our new Learning in Focus approach highlighting the mental health and wellbeing topics available to you. As well as a personal tool focusing on the value of lifelong learning and prioritising your personal and professional development. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.  

If you would like to explore this area further, our Organisational Development Team can help. Reach out to us here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Lead with Emotional Intelligence

The words emotional intelligence can cause a little nervousness in some people, while others can’t wait to delve into the topic and let you know how high their EQ is. But what does it mean? It means we actively try to improve our people skills. We work hard on being better communicators. We try to be better listeners. We always seek feedback from people on how we are going and ask the question, what more can I do to help you be successful?.  Even if we are ‘born’ emotionally sensitive or attuned, we will still find ourselves on the journey to becoming a more emotionally intelligent leader. We may improve with age and experience, but we can definitely train ourselves to become more emotionally intelligent sooner. Why would we? Well, major studies have found a strong link between high emotional intelligence and success in leadership, relationships, resilience, and life in general!

We're turning our spotlight to emotional intelligence (EQ) and why it is a very relevant topic in our Wellbeing in Focus Calendar’s CHANGE quarterly theme. We've created tools that look at what EQ is, why it’s important and how we can improve our EQ, from the individual and leader perspective, respectively. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

Emotional intelligence can be measured but feedback and cues from those you interact with will generally let you know how well you are progressing. If you would like to explore this area further and use emotional intelligence in leadership development and team dynamics, our Organisational Development Team can help. Reach out to here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Equipping your people

The events of the past year have had some unexpected outcomes. On a personal level, many of us have realised that we can do things that we hadn’t previously thought possible or that we “had it in us” to do. Similarly, for many organisations, the ability to move quickly and implement change when restrictions were in place was downright amazing. This realisation that we can rise to the challenge can be very empowering. As leaders, we know that some people in our team like to play it safe and are reticent when it comes to trying new things, but when given the right opportunity, they will exceed expectations. It can take time and effort to find the right development path to ensure they can contribute to the best of their abilities.

So how can we ensure that we give our people the opportunities to be their best at life and work? We're turning our spotlight on self-awareness and equipping your people with the information they need to make better recruitment and development decisions.

We've created a  Leader Tool that provides ways to harness information and apply reliability and validity to the development process to ensure you are setting your people and business up for success.  As well as a Personal Tool that focuses on self-awareness and making time to take stock of where you are after an unusual year. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. Reach out to here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Focus on Self-Care and Connection

We've reached a milestone together. We are now 12 months into a global pandemic. It's no wonder that we have found ourselves talking about challenging times. When we pause and reflect on the pandemic's duration and ongoing nature, its influence on our work and personal lives will take years to continue to unfurl.

I'm sure everyone is looking forward to the Easter break and possibly school holidays. We recognise those affected by the recent floods, and this week we are aware that Queenslanders are faced with a new lockdown. As humans, we are more adaptable than we give ourselves credit for.  Whether you have been impacted directly or indirectly or feel the weight of media coverage of traumatic events, the break may be a good time to look after yourself and connect with family, friends and loved ones.

We're turning our spotlight to self-care and connection. Your personal tools are part of the 2021 Wellbeing in Focus Calendar, and now is a perfect time to highlight taking a good look at ways to practice self-care, connect and notice how you are travelling. Find the Wellbeing Calendar Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website as well as the AccessMyEAP App. Reach out to here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Support through the NSW & QLD Floods

Australia is a country of extremes which can challenge us and impact our lives in profound ways. Twelve months ago, we were coming out of one of the worst bushfire seasons in many years, followed by floods and hail storms and then a global pandemic. Right now, parts of NSW and some parts of QLD are experiencing a 1-in-100-year weather event which is causing floods, losses and damage across the State. Natural disasters like the current storms and floods disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities.

It is important through times such as these to identify those of your people who may have been directly impacted by the storms and floods and provide assistance where possible. Storm and flooding events such as these can be challenging, as the combined uncertainty about the immediate situation as well as fear and concern for what may lie ahead over coming days and weeks as storm waters continue to rise can exacerbate our thoughts and feelings.

As a leader, your organisation plays a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting your people and their families in the immediate aftermath and moving forward. We encourage you to help your people feel they can focus on their immediate priorities, which is the physical safety of family, friends, loved ones and their homes and possessions. As a leader, take the time to check in with your people, and where appropriate, remind them that their EAP is available and able to help support them through these challenging times. Many people will want to be seen as “coping” so asking how they are going is really important. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.

  •  Normalise reactions: Accept that people will experience a range of emotions and that it is normal. Once the event is over, it doesn't mean people's feelings go away. Acknowledge their feelings and reassure people that their intense feelings are normal given the disaster.
  • Ask how you can help: Ask if there's anything that you can do to assist employees or if there is anything they need? e.g. flexible hours, transport or belongings. Keep talking to gain clarity on what assistance they need.
  • Do not catastrophise: It is common to reflect on the "what ifs" or "what might have been". Do not speculate on how much worse it could have been. Avoid comparison of stories as each person has a right to their feelings.

To support those that may have been affected by the event, we have included documents for individual strategies (download pdf here) and tips as well as information for managers and leaders (download pdf here). These tools are also available through the AccessMyEAP App.

If you have any questions or would like to better understand what you can do that will meaningfully support your team, the experienced clinicians on our Manager Support Hotline are able to help you help your people. As manager, your individual needs matter just as much. Reach out for support when and if you need it. We are here to help. Contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

AccessMyEAP, here to support your people

It’s been another difficult week for many people around Australia who have suffered physical losses and hardship, which will continue into the next week. A tough 12 months just got tougher for many people now affected by floods and storm damage. It is normal to feel sorry for ourselves and then do a quick check and rank our suffering. We’ve had some of our own people be directly impacted, or had their friends, family and loved ones be impacted.

No matter the scale of the impact to our lives, from wellbeing, physical loss through to hurt we still need to process our feelings, get some support (and maybe some empathy), put it in perspective and keep going. This can be easier said than done, but that is exactly where AccessEAP can help. We're turning our spotlight on the AccessMyEAP App and how it can help you and your people to recognise the importance of looking after your wellbeing and building it into your everyday.

We've created tools that highlight how taking steps to look after your wellbeing can be empowering, as well as suggesting ways to help your people proactively use the resources available to them as part of your EAP. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. Reach out to here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

For more information and support through the NSW & QLD Floods, see here.

Recognising fatigue

How many of us can truthfully say that we regularly feel fully rested and refreshed after the year we’ve had? Many people often underestimate the importance of sleep to our overall mental health and wellbeing. In the ‘busy-ness’ of our lives, in the general day to day, it is a common habit to prioritise and value an action bias. We value ‘go-getters’, envy those hyper-achievers who can operate on less than 5 hours of sleep every night and daydream of how much more we could fit into our days.

A month ago, we highlighted the large increase in Google searches for insomnia last year. With World Sleep Day last week, it may be just the opportunity to help your people who are struggling to get a good night’s sleep. A restful sleep balances our body and brain. It restores hormonal and chemical balance, and processes the events and experiences we have been through. As leaders, we can promote positive lifestyles and behaviours to our people through some simple messages and show that balancing and integrating work and life is important so we can be our best.

To stay strong and healthy for the next twelve months is probably going to take more self-management than it has in the past – simply because we are facing uncertainty. Self-care has a big part to play, so we will keep reinforcing its importance and offering practical applications. Looking at our sleeping habits is a vital component of a good self-care practice. We've created tools to highlight how to set yourself up for success by implementing good sleep practices, as well as outlining ways to recognise fatigue and start the conversation around the mental health impacts of a lack of sleep. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. Reach out to here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Support through Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like floods, bushfires, droughts and cyclones, disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities. Organisations play a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting their employees in the immediate aftermath and in the days, weeks and months following a disaster. It’s important to be aware that everyone will respond differently and everyone’s needs will be different, initially and over time. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for your employees will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience. The following information may also be of assistance:

For individuals, see our tips and strategies (download pdf here).

As a manager, there are a few things you can do to support your employees (download pdf here):

1. Normalise reactions: Accept that people will experience a range of emotions and that it is normal. Once the event is over it doesn't mean people's feelings go away. Acknowledge their feelings and reassure people that their intense feelings are normal given the disaster.

2. Try to keep calm and lift spirits through community involvement: Provide reassurance that "we will get through this together" and focus on the things that were managed well, e.g. the brave responses of emergency services. People feel united in the shared experience and can support and comfort each other. This connection and sense of helping is critical to coping.

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Foster dignity and respect through the Wellbeing Calendar

Over the past few weeks, the media has been increasingly filled with challenging stories about allegations and reports of workplace misconduct. The overarching themes are around abuse of power, disrespect, inequity and fear. The recognition of Grace Tame as Australian of the Year 2021 may have encouraged many other women to draw courage and to come forward and tell their stories.  These testimonies are coming out in different types of organisations and industries and are challenging leaders to look at their own organisational culture and behaviours within. As leaders, we often look closely at team dynamics to help find ways to support individuals and teams to be their best. It's timely we're talking about the next Quarter of our Wellbeing Calendar, which emphasises positive behaviours in the workplace to identify issues early, raise awareness, build engagement, and embed behavioural change.

This week we turn our spotlight to launching the next quarter of the AccessEAP 2021 Wellbeing In Focus Calendar. We have also created an extra Leader Tool - Championing Dignity and Respect, to support your leaders. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.

The Wellbeing Calendar and associated tools have been created to help you. Your Wellbeing in Focus Calendar Toolkit includes a Q2 Leader Tool and How-to Guide as well as the Q2 Wellbeing Tools/Tip Sheets. They are available in the Employer Login Area as well as through monthly updates on the Employee Login Area and AccessMyEAP App.

We need to keep the conversation about mental health and wellbeing going. We know it isn't easy, but we are here to support you and your people. Reach out to here at AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.