How to develop and increase empathy

Published in Human Resources Director New Zealand on 30th March, 2019.

Many people believe empathy is something reserved for home and family life, but the reality is it’s vital in business too, according to Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director at AccessEAP. Empathetic leaders often display increased emotional intelligence and are better at creating a more inclusive workplace.

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Support for customers impacted by the tragic events in Christchurch

Traumatic events such as the mass shootings in Christchurch 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 and their families in the immediate aftermath and in the days, weeks and months following this tragic event.

The immediate focus is to ensure that your employees and their loved ones are safe. At this present time, particularly with intense media coverage and access to information on the internet, it’s important to acknowledge that this is a heightened state of emotion for everyone involved. 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 people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.

What your people will need right now is (download pdf version here):

If needed, allow additional time at home to spend time with family and friends - this helps them to feel safe and connected, and reassure others of their safetyMake sure your employees or students have access to support information and numbers - specifically the EAP and any other services you may have in place.Give people assurance that affected families will be supported in some form or another.

The people of Christchurch have recently experienced and lived through the trauma of the earthquake. Many people are still dealing with the aftermath. This tragedy will have the potential to re-trigger feelings of trauma and loss and memories will surface. Over the coming weeks, it is important to reassure, support and connect with each other. Patience is required as everyone will feel and respond differently. People will need time, to acknowledge their responses and to process.

Over the coming days, and in time, what your people will need is for you to provide simple and accurate information on how to access services, specifically encourage, and make it easy for, employees/students to speak with a professional counsellor. Most people will not want to speak to a counsellor in the initial days or weeks as they support each other. It is in the longer term when people need support from a counsellor or their Employee Assistance Program.

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Creating a thriving workplace this Feel Good February – Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

 At AccessEAP we love curiosity, being curious is one of our values and can really help to create a thriving workplace. This morning I received a card (like the one below) with an anonymous, personal message from one of my colleagues. Themed GLAD it highlighted four positive things about me. I must admit it not only made me feel good - it made me feel happy, proud, humble and overwhelmed – it brought a tear to my eye. It was a deeply emotional experience. Around our state offices these cards were being opened and experienced by all our people. I have included some of the reactions below and pictured are some smiling members of our Client Services Team!

This Feel Good February initiative was the work of our Wellbeing Champions. Informed by feedback from our Employee Engagement Surveys and as part of our internal wellbeing strategy we have recruited a team of Wellbeing Champions. These champions represent each of our divisions so bring a wealth of clinical, marketing, service, financial and management experience to the table. There brief is to implement initiatives which are valued and enhance the wellbeing of our people.

Each month the Wellbeing Champions work with their teams, creating initiatives to remind us to focus on our own mental health and wellbeing. Not every initiative will hit the mark and that’s OK but when they do they have a powerful, positive impact on mental health and workplace wellbeing. We will share these gems with our customers via our Wellbeing In Focus Calendar.

Initiatives such as these increase engagement and satisfaction related to recognition for work accomplishments; relationships with coworkers and supervisors. Organisations that are the best in engaging their employees achieve earnings-per-share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors. Compared with business units in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile of engagement realise substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes.1.

1.Gallup Employee Engagement Poll. These findings are based on a random sample of 30,628 full- and part-time U.S. employees working for an employer from January to June 2018.

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Support through a natural disaster

Australia is no stranger to natural disasters, e.g. bushfires, droughts, cyclones and floods. These events impact entire communities, including organisations, their employees and families. The disruption to daily life can be significant. People may be forced to evacuate their homes and workplaces leaving cherished possessions behind as they turn their focus to survival. It is common to experience a range of intense emotions following a traumatic event like a natural disaster. The immediate loss of control and personal safety is frightening and can lead to severe or acute shock, distress and anxiety. People who have faced potential loss, injury, or even death from natural disasters will experience a range of feelings immediately, weeks and even months later. The memories and associated fear that a similar event will reoccur can be long lasting.

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.

3. 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.

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Tips to Keep Your Business New Year’s Resolutions on Track

The start of a new year is a great opportunity to take a fresh look at the goals you’d like to set for the next 12 months. For businesses this could range from financial growth to improved staff retention, or new service and product offerings. However, with only 8% [1] of people achieving their New Year’s resolutions, how can management and HR professionals hope to inspire entire teams to find year-long success?

The answer lies in effective goal setting says our Clinical Director, Marcela Slepica “It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of setting a new goal, without thinking about the big picture. While having a common goal is great for team morale and motivating employees, the goals you set need to be realistic and in line with your organisation’s vision and values.”

Here Marcela gives more details on some of the tips we use to help organisations reach their goals.

S.M.A.R.T Goals

Organisational goals are like personal goals in that they provide structure to help us move in the direction we want to take. Within organisations, it can be easy to come up with ‘big picture’ ideas or strategic direction, however setting goals can be more challenging. The S.M.A.R.T. model is a great way of keeping your goals on track and giving them the best possible chance of success.

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Breaking with Tradition

A message from Sally Kirkright - CEO, AccessEAP

The festive season is a time for tradition. What that looks like is different for every family, workplace, household and community.  At AccessEAP we have an annual gathering in December and the invitation extends to all our employees. It’s an opportunity for us to reflect and celebrate the year that was. It’s marked on the calendar early in the year and we plan ahead for the special event.

I enjoy festive traditions and the special atmosphere that goes along with them. OK, I can’t say I am happy when I hear carols in early November but putting aside the commercial aspects it can be an exciting time. There is certainly a change in pace as everyone is working to make sure end of calendar year goals and commitments are met. There is a sense of getting the job done and then enjoying celebrations before the holidays.

There is another side to the holiday traditions however that I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on. At times it seems that the invitation to celebrate becomes a source of stress, pressure, and expectation for people. There are often established ways of doing things in the family or group, and there can be resistance to suggestions for change. After all, that would be breaking with tradition.

The notion of accepting change is a broader challenge faced by individuals and organisations alike. During the festive season there may be expectations based on what was done previously and how things “should be”. Tensions can arise, for example, over who will be attending which event, people being excluded, responsibility for making or bringing food, what gifts if any will be exchanged, how much things will cost, dietary restrictions, and the list goes on.

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Government, mining companies fight against domestic violence

Published in Safe to Work, Australian Mining Online on 26th Nov, 2018

According to Marcela Slepica, the clinical director of a corporate psychology organisation AccessEAP, companies can play a role in supporting women experiencing violence at home, as work can often be a sanctuary away from abuse.

AccessEAP recommends businesses to recognise a case of domestic violence through a change in employee’s patterns of behaviour; openly extend support and encouragement; and refer employees to external assistance when required.

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How can HR build a mentally healthy office

Published in Human Resources Director Online on 6th Nov, 2018

Business leaders need to think about how they can look after their own wellbeing for sake of themselves, the employees and the company, according to Marcela Slepica, clinical services director at AccessEAP.

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AccessEAP Advocates for Better Mental Health in Trade Industries

Published in Electrical Connection Online on 24th Oct, 2018

AccessEAP Director Eleni van Delft has already provided tailored toolbox talks to organisations in the manufacturing, mining and construction industries and is amazed by the immediate effect it has had on participants.

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How to have an authentic conversation on mental health

Published in Human Resources Director on 15th September, 2018

The majority of adults spend around one third of their waking hours at work. Consequently, companies can play a pivotal role in providing key health information, according to Marcela Slepica, clinical director at AccessEAP.

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The inter-generational workplace

Sally Kirkright, CEO, AccessEAP recently presented a seminar on The inter-generational workplace - creating a safe and thriving culture at the Safety First Conference in Sydney. In this video recording of the event, Sally explains the issues workplaces face when, for the first time, we see up to five distinct generations in Australian workplaces. Focussing on communicatiuon styles and motivations Sally guides the listener through ways to effectively manage the challenges.

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Support for those impacted by drought

The deepening drought in New South Wales, north-west Victoria and eastern South Australia, in addition to the continuing drought in Queensland, has a far reaching impact on individuals, families and whole communities. These impacts are both physical and emotional; disrupting lives and resulting in great emotional distress. The longer the drought continues, waiting and hoping for rain slowly turns into feelings of hopelessness. Financial hardship increases and with it despair; family tensions may build along with the day to day trauma of watching livestock and crops fail seriously affecting mental health and the ability to keep functioning.

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Five tips for HR to help staff combat stress

Published in HRD Magazine on 19th July, 2018

“While workplace stressors may be changing, its apparent from the data that the effects are relatively similar, with the same impacts on output,” according to Marcela Slepica, clinical services director at AccessEAP.

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Perfectionism and poverty: why musicians struggle with mental health

Published in The Guardian on 20th June, 2018

AccessEAP is very proud to be supporting this groundbreaking helpline for the music industry. The Support Act Wellbeing Helpline, is specifically tailored to the unique challenges faced by artists and music workers. It will be staffed by AccessEAP's network of professional counsellors who will offer expertise in all areas related to mental health (e.g. depression, anxiety, addiction, suicidal ideation) as well as issues which can be mental health related (such as loneliness, relationship breakdown, financial worries, illness and workplace conflict). Read more

Welcome to Newport & Wildman customers

As of the 1st of July, 2018 Newport & Wildman will be proudly part of AccessEAP. This marks an expansion of our EAP and workplace wellbeing services into Tasmania.

For our Newport & Wildman customers this will mean business as usual, Tony Newport and the clinical team will continue to provide local clinical services. Tony will also work in the business to ensure the unique relationship you have with Newport & Wildman will be retained in order to best meet your needs.

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Does your workplace have a 'macho' culture?

Published in HRD Magazine on 14th June, 2018

Male dominated workplaces can hold a ‘macho’ culture, where opening up is perceived as a sign of weakness or vulnerability, according to Marcela Slepica, Director of Clinical Services at AccessEAP.

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Ending the Normalisation of Harassment with Courageous Conversations

Harassment is defined by the Australian Human Rights Commission as unlawfully treating a person less favourably on the basis of particular protected attributes such as a person’s sex, race, disability or age. However, harassment can be so deeply engrained into workplace culture that it has become normal.

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Headspace resources for parents and schools, 13 Reasons Why, Season 2

In order to support parents in the workplace and people working in education, we are sharing some important information and resources made available by headspace, National Youth Mental Health Foundation. The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why caused a great deal of concern in the school and wider community about this time last year. Season 2 of the series was launched last Friday. The first series, based on the novel of the same name, revolves around the aftermath of a teenage girl’s suicide. This series is graphic, making real and distressing reference to suicide, self-harm and rape.

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Creating a workplace for all ages

Published in Telegraph on 1st May, 2018

Organisations need to prepare for how best to manage a diverse workforce and promote an inclusive inter-generational culture, explains Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP.

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Case Study - Harnessing the Power of Positive Psychology at Work

The concepts of positive psychology can have many benefits in the workplace. This powerful tool is used to focus on employees’ personal strengths skills, and capabilities, as a foundation for developing their performance.

Recently, a global study found that workgroups that received strength based interventions showed an average increase in employee engagement of up to 15[1] per cent, reductions in staff turnover of up to 721 per cent, and 591 per cent less safety incidents.

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