Keeping pace with change

One of the elements that underpin personal and organisational resilience is planning. Planning done right means that we have taken the opportunity to think clearly about the environment our organisation currently operates in and where we are heading into the future.  When we take stock of our organisational strengths, culture, people and teams, we can identify those areas where there are gaps to grow into.

We've turned our spotlight to managing through change. How can we as leaders, identify the areas within our control that we can positively support growth and balance the needs of individuals, teams and our organisation?

Our new tools highlight the importance of a “life audit” and offers some practical tips to identify whether we are working towards those goals that are important. They also explore strategies to help your people achieve their goals while recognising the ever-present need to keep pace with change. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

Being proactive when planning and preparing our people for change can quickly move the dial into positive territory. More and more, we are talking about the importance of a growth mindset, both personally and professionally. Our Organisational Development Team are experts in this area and are here for you. If you have any questions or require support, 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.

 

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Leadership for a bright 2021

Last year leadership styles were put under the microscope as world leaders battled the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Leadership styles and the differing focus on priorities were on display, as leaders sought to balance competing needs. There was a leader who captured the world's attention demonstrating empathy, kindness and "love on full display"1. How leaders responded to the threat has shaped the outcomes. Once again, leaders and their people in Victoria have had a difficult week. We've heard how the snap lockdown affected leaders and their people, personally as well as professionally.  What can we learn from how they have faced the challenge using their strength and resilience?

For us at AccessEAP and from what we have seen in our data, a leadership style that prioritises people's wellbeing, supports their performance and helps people and organisations thrive has been instrumental in helping people, teams and organisations rise to the challenge of constant change.

We've created new tools which highlight key leadership traits that have helped us throughout the pandemic and beyond as well as address what our people should expect from us as leaders. There is a dual responsibility to recognise and nurture to get the most from these relationships. 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.

 

[1] https://info.accesseap.com.au/e/872921/ics-jacinda-ardern-leadership-/4y6gv/165849879?h=3nKlTTbLC431Z9zOpMcMxV7bCY7TAwxY-SfFmXy777o

Education organisations poised to provide mental health support to parent teachers

Published in Education Today 15th February 2021

As most educators are aware, mental health conditions can have long term, direct and indirect effects on a child’s development including impacts on social skills, the ability to absorb information and their enthusiasm for learning. This makes it vitally important that parents know all of their options for assistance.

So, what help is there for teachers who are experiencing childhood mental health issues in the home and what can they do? Most organisations will have an Employee Assistance Program in place and teachers can confidentially access this support for themselves and family members.

Marcela Slepica AccessEAP Director, Clinical Services.

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Are you a good listener?

Communication has been a major theme over the past year and indeed every year for us at AccessEAP. Our Wellbeing in Focus Calendar dedicates a month and often a quarter to the theme each year. Anything on courageous, difficult or constructive conversations is very well received, and the feedback we get from our customers is that you are looking for more. A major part of communication is listening. We spend a lot of time talking about listening, and how important it is to demonstrate active listening, how important it is to “be heard”. Listening is a crucial part of what happens when you ask “R U OK?” or invest in diversity in your teams. Being present, having empathy and risking missing out by putting down your phone and giving someone your undivided attention, is easier said than done. Yet it is fundamental in gaining understanding, having meaningful conversations and establishing or nurturing connection. It is a skill that few truly do well, but when we find a good listener, they are often a very valuable person in our lives.

If we are good listeners, how do we do it? If we are poor listeners, how do we improve? If we are somewhere in between, can we do better?

Listening is so much more than just hearing, or waiting your turn to speak (without interrupting), it is an active skill and as a leader, you become highly attuned to your people and where they are at. Practice active listening by paying attention, asking questions and taking in behaviours as well as what is being said out loud.

Our Leader Tool focuses on ways to improve your listening skills and why its such an essential part of being a good leader. Our Personal Tool covers good listening skills and how listening skills can help parents. 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. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Reset and commit to 2021

The beginning of the year may have felt a little different this year. By now, most of your people are back in their workspaces and in the swing of things. We have encouraged our people and teams to take some time to reflect on the year that was and the year ahead, and do the thinking and planning that can sometimes be hard to find in the day to day rush of work. It can be hard to feel confident in a plan that is so susceptible to what’s happening around us in the pandemic. As a leader, how can you help your people and teams be nimble, agile, flexible, resilient and able to pivot through change in a way that fosters mental health and wellbeing?

We're turning our spotlight to continuing and committing to good wellbeing habits throughout the year. By now, many of those new year’s resolutions that have been made have already been discarded. We’ve put together some tips on how to reconnect with and ensure work and personal intentions can become good habits.

We already started (or continued) conversations about what our people want to focus on or achieve this year. We’ve encouraged taking the time to stop, pause, think, ask the right questions before doing the doing. It’s a practice that can help restore or support mental balance when things feel frenetic or out of our control. What it looks like for each person, or each team can differ greatly. As a leader, be mindful you work for your people, help them fulfil their aspirations, find what motivates them and so you can help focus on the things that matter to them.

We've created tools that focus on strategies that you could already be kicking goals with, just starting to talk about, or there may be ones that need a complete overhaul.  Whatever is the case, starting the year with a clear idea of where you want to go will help to set you and your people up for success. 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. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Positive start to the school year

Being our best in life and work can be thrilling, exciting and also at times incredibly challenging. Those of your people who have or care for children will have experienced a different side of the pandemic and witnessed the impact it had on kids and teenagers. An important part of any employee experience is how their organisation recognises and supports their family responsibilities outside of the workplace. We saw for the first-time large scale online learning in our schools, with many parents and carers adding a new role as teacher in the home.

Our clinical team, and more broadly mental health experts of all types, predict that we will be dealing with the mental health and wellbeing impacts on children and teenagers for years to come with anxiety as a leading issue impacting kids. It's important to state upfront that kid and teen mental health is best approached through a system or network of support. This includes clinicians, parents, schools and support organisations. Your organisation, and how you support your people, can play a positive role to support your people and their children's and teen's mental health. 

We've created new tools that address how leaders can better support those people in their teams and organisations with kids and teenagers and for those with kids and teens some tips on supporting their mental health and wellbeing. EAP is a great way to truly support your people to be their best in life and work, and help you bring your employee experience to life. 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.

How Project Managers Can Prevent — or Cause — Employee Burnout

Published in The Uncommon League 19th January 2021

Burnout has often been associated with caring professions (such as nurses) and first responders (such as firefighters), says Marcela Slepica, clinical services director at employee assistance program AccessEAP. But it certainly isn't restricted to jobs that involve saving lives.

Any environment can become a burnout incubator. And often, managers play a role in creating the perfect setting for employee stress.

6 easy steps to help you end feelings of isolation

Published in Kochie's Business Builders 20th December 2020

How to take care of yourself and harness positive psychology.

"When there is a shared sense of purpose in the workplace, people tend to feel more satisfied with what they are working towards. Business leaders should consistently communicate to their team about their role within the organisation and how it contributes to the vision and mission of the business, providing a sense of meaning to the work they do." Marcela Slepica, AccessEAP Director, Clinical Services. 

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Support for the changing restrictions over the festive season

As we enter the holiday period, the countdown to Christmas day and the end of the year, we are experiencing another setback with the cluster on the northern beaches of NSW. This is significantly impacting many people and families, and their plans to reconnect with loved ones either with large gatherings or with travel to other states both into NSW or out of NSW. This can create understandable feelings of disappointment and sadness. There is also an amazing sense of care and positive action as record numbers turn out to be tested – a very open demonstration of the desire to look after each other and help NSW Health to contain the spread.

We have seen how resilient we all are, and have focused on hope and connecting with our loved ones virtually, and it looks like we need to draw on this for a while longer. We have also experienced how difficult this year has been and we can take strength and hope from Victoria who endured a prolonged lockdown. We encourage you to reach out to those you know are isolated and offer a quick check-in or words of support.

We wanted to remind you that our counselling services and onsite services continue to be available 24/7 – please reach out on 1800 818 728, connect with us via our App, AccessMyEAP or our website for additional resources.

We would also like to express our best wishes and gratitude to all those who are continuing to provide essential services.

Wrapping up 2020 with Self-Care

We’re coming to the end of a year that has changed the way we work, view the world and go about our lives. We wanted to firstly say thank you – we’re grateful for the opportunity to work with you and your people. We’re also grateful for you helping us continue to fulfil our social purpose and provide meaningful, life-changing support to vulnerable children and families, particularly at this time of the year.

We can all acknowledge it’s been a tough year. The holiday period has its own challenges for many people even in the best of times, let’s be even more mindful this year. This week we turn our spotlight to managing expectations during the festive season, as this is an important part of self-care. We've created two new tools for you, Self-care is for leaders too and Managing Festive Expectations. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.

We would also like to share with you the power of giving, especially at this time of the year when people less fortunate than ourselves often do it tougher than usual. Our social purpose is to support programs to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families. Over the past year, the primary beneficiary of our charitable giving was the H.O.P.E. Foundation. Please watch these short videos to learn more about this amazing program through the stories of the young mums who have changed their lives and the lives of their children.

Watch the stories of two brave new mums who have come through the H.O.P.E. Program.

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Support through Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like floods, 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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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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Take control of your wellbeing journey and access support your way

At AccessEAP, our vision is for each person to be their best at life and work. It’s important to us, and we have developed a program of works to ensure we can support this vision by working with you and your people. This includes empowering our people, connecting with people and excellence in all we do. These strategic themes guide our pathway for innovation and bring innovation to life for us every day.

We partner with you to create mentally healthy and thriving workplaces and communities. Our latest wellbeing innovations directly support our vision and mission by allowing us to strengthen our partnership with you and connect directly to you and your people wherever they may be.

I am very excited to announce the launch of our new app AccessMyEAP, alongside our online Booking Portal and AccessChat instant messaging service.

This trio of online services put you and your people in control of your wellbeing journey.

AccessMyEAP app

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Introducing your new app - AccessMyEAP

Get to know your AccessMyEAP App

It's brand new and just released for free download via Google Play and the App Store. We’re making it easy for you to access your own EAP and wellbeing services with our intuitive and dynamic app.

  • Put yourself in control of your mental health and wellbeing.
  • Make a booking to speak with one of our counsellors.
  • Read tips, strategies and new ways to support your mental health and wellbeing journey.
  • Choose your own wellbeing tools and resources based on your preferences, goals and interests.
  • Take your Wellbeing Check regularly. The questions are based on the positive psychology PERMAH model. 
  • Monitor your results with your personal Wellbeing Tracker.

This free service is provided to you by your employer as part of your EAP services. 

We’re here to help you be your best at life and work. Get started today. 

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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
 

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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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.

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

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.

 

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