Tips on Managing Diversity

Businesses can maximise the productivity and efficiency of their diverse workforce through:

 1. Developing an understanding of employees and embracing difference

 Seek first to understand before being understood - get to know what really makes your team tick. Ask respectful questions with the intention to better understand someone. Recognise and appreciate team members by knowing and using their full range of skills and talents and remove obstacles to their effective participation.

 2. Building cohesive teams through open communication

 Recognising that we all have biases shaped through our own life experiences which affect our perception of others. As leaders, it is important to raise awareness of these biases to help build tolerance, understanding and acceptance amongst employees. Understand that we have to adapt our communication to meet individual team members' needs. Culture informs our communication - facilitate a respectful and curious discussion about this in your workplace.

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Celebrating Harmony

Harmony Day is about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values. Held every year on 21 March. The Day coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

For more information, please check out the Harmony Day Website which has so many resources for you to host your very own event.

At AccessEAP we hold a Harmony Day Lunch where everyone brings a dish and shares the background behind it. It is such a wonderful opportunity to learn something new about your colleagues and of course try some amazing food!

Don't forgot to check out our Tips on Managing Diversity.

 

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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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AccessEAP Case Study: The Bourke Street Incident - Risk, Response and Recovery

It’s just before 1.45pm on Friday 20th January, 2017. Lunches are still being enjoyed as school holidays bring extra children to the city on what is a pretty normal work day in Melbourne CBD. The city is the workplace of some 387 000 people, 15 000 businesses. It’s pretty typical for 177 000 visitors from nearby suburbs and another 80 000 visitors from interstate and overseas to swell the streets of this buzzing city. In an instant it all changes from the familiar hustle bustle of a pedestrian shopping mall to the mayhem caused when people know they are in danger but can’t quite understand why. Just a short while later, five people are dead, another fatally injured – two of those lost are young children. Thirty one people are hospitalised and countless others will bear the scars of the trauma for some time to come.

This tragedy happened to shoppers, visitors, and workers. It happened right outside the workplaces of many retail workers, some were not allowed to leave their workplaces due to emergency services processes and police investigations. Frontline managers had to react and in-act the procedures they had in place to handle a crisis such as this. People were suffering, albeit in different ways, and they needed help.
 
Unfortunately these incidents are becoming a more common occurrence in our lives and will inevitably affect the people organisations and leaders are responsible for in our organisations. Most leaders take this responsibility very seriously and put measures in place to look after employees should a crisis occur and reduce the associated risks for the business such as having a Critical Incident Management Plan (CIMP), Training key employees/leaders in Critical Incident Management and a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

In this particular incident the first responders were the public and then emergency services. AccessEAP received a large number of calls from our customers in and around the Bourke Street Mall. We initiated Critical Incident Response and Management processes to deploy counsellors to help workers onsite and over the phone. A few of our customers were right in the centre of the incident and their internal processes in responding to the incident meant that AccessEAP were able to fully support the employees and provide onsite mental health first aid within half an hour of the request for assistance.

Robust Risk Management is essential for business leaders and ensuring the risks are identified, managed and mitigated where possible is essential. In regard to critical incidents having a well thought out CIMP or BCP, including managing for a situation where there is a lock down, i.e. inaccessibility due to emergency services closures, is the first step to manage the risk associated with a critical incident. Secondly, the timely provision of support makes a great difference to the long term outcomes for the individuals affected. Support and education are essential to managing the risk associated with critical incidents. Unfortunately given the unpredictability of these incidents we cannot transfer or mitigate the total risk. We can however plan and manage through a crisis. Here are some quick thoughts to assist:
  • Educate managers on how to respond appropriately to different reactions
  • Group and individual sessions through your EAP, within a few days post event, allows people to share their experience, to be heard and hear others and to promote a culture of support and understanding
  • Onsite sessions help to minimise the disruption to the workplace and promote organisational sense of wellbeing
  • Educate managers and employees on how to identify changes in workplace behaviours that might signify a lack of coping in self or in other staff
  • Encourage employees to support one another throughout the working day as people resume their normal activities
  • Encourage communication between staff whilst acknowledging the difference in styles – some people want to talk, others may not 
  • Reinforce the importance of support networks outside the workplace
    Do not expect normal productivity as people process the incident and accommodate changes to workload, work routines, access to leave
  • Symbolic gestures to acknowledge the event, such as setting up a donation fund to support the victims, good to consult employees what they would like
  • Provide training/education forums around trauma to normalise experiences and highlight the availability of support structures
  • Revisit the impact three to six months after the event through training and information sessions
  • Promote physical activity and healthy eating habits in the workplace. Encourage ongoing professional assistance for those individuals in need.
Finally, as leaders our self-care is fundamental to being able to support our employees. Ask yourself what are you doing to cope? Who can support me? Am I looking after myself? Take a moment to consider how you can be at your best to support your people during these unpredictable and traumatic events.
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Information to help organisations during the cyclone crisis

At a time such as we are now experiencing, support for our clients and their employees is paramount. Over the coming days situations will change dramatically and people will feel the need for support at different times. Some may not feel the need for support at all.

We have provided the information below to assist organisations. We have also put together some information to assist your employees which you may find useful to distribute to as many people as possible. Please also remember to remind people that if they need counselling services to call 1800 81 87 28 where someone will be on hand to help.

Natural disasters like 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 need s 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.

  • If needed, allow additional time at home to tend to family matters.
  • Establish an open door policy that allows employees to seek the appropriate care when needed.
  • Create an environment that allows employees to talk amongst themselves about fears and hopes related to the disaster. Openly sharing with others has been known to promote personal recovery.
  • Be mindful and respectful of individual needs. Some employees may feel uncomfortable sharing their feelings. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel.
  • Encourage employees to communicate their needs, rather than assume you know what their needs may be.
  • Promote self-efficacy by engaging people in meeting their own needs by helping them regain their confidence and ability to manage their current and future situations.
  • Maintain communication if an employee is away from the workplace for any length of time.
  • Give employees assurance that affected families will be supported in some form or another. A disaster such as the floods has the power to entirely consume everyone involved, especially when it has an impact on one’s family.
  • If possible and when appropriate try to establish normal routines as soon as possible. This aids recovery by providing employees with an opportunity to be active and return to a sense of normalcy.
  • Provide simple and accurate information on how to access services, specifically encourage, and make it easy for, employees to speak with a professional counsellor from their Employee Assistance Program. 

How to access the Organisational Support services

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Hiding behind technology?

From time to time we all encounter situations where we dislike a person’s behaviour and we feel we need to say something, but actually having the conversation is a different story. With the integration of technology into the workplace it is much easier to avoid a potentially uncomfortable conversation by sending a quick email and ‘dealing with it later’.

Whilst these conversations are necessary the immediate impulse for many of us is to avoid, avoid, avoid. Hiding behind technology may seem like a good idea at the time but communicating with the absence of tone and body language may make the situation worse.

Once you have decided to have a courageous conversation, consider your approach. Learn more from our CEO's monthly feature article, Timing is Everything.

 

Here are some tips for initiating a potentially difficult conversation whether it’s face to face or over the phone:

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Emotions in the Workplace

To create a thriving workplace leaders are encouraged to focus on mental health and wellbeing and to better understand the importance of harnessing emotions in the workplace.

Emotions in the workplace and organisational culture

Today workplaces need to engage and motivate their employees by understanding what employees need from their work. We know employees want to grow, want to be valued, involved, and to feel part of the organisation. Each generation may have differing needs and not factoring in employees’ values, needs and expectations leads to strong emotions at work which can lead to decreased productivity.

Emotions and customer experience

Acknowledging the emotions and impact of a challenging customer interaction and working towards a resolution is more effective than deciding who is right or wrong. This requires a skill set involving de-escalation and staying calm. We can support you to manage angry or disgruntled customers, respond in a way that builds relationships, learn how to make customers feel heard and meet their emotional needs.

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De-escalating or diffusing a situation

Have you or your staff been in a situation where you had to manage challenging behaviours when dealing with the public? An understanding of your own response as well as some skilful moves may help to improve the outcome.

 AccessEAP’s Tailored Trainings aim to provide information and tools to assist staff to keep psychologically safe whilst working with the public.

Participants will learn to assess the level of psychological risk present in any given situation by better understanding their individual stress signature and signs of distress so as to identify what sort of action to take during an incident. They will learn techniques to de-escalate or diffuse a situation to the best of their ability, and will identify when best to walk away from a situation and seek additional support. Participants will also have an opportunity to look at ways to build resilience and manage their wellbeing generally, particularly following a confronting incident.

Please contact your Relationship Manager for more information or to book in this training.

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Timing is Everything

The theme of our wellbeing calendar this month centres on having courageous conversations. There are many contexts in a workplace that require us to find courage and have discussions that feel uncomfortable. An example which comes to mind is a manager providing feedback on an employee’s work performance or behaviour. Whilst these conversations are necessary the immediate impulse for many of us is to avoid, avoid, avoid.

How appealing is it to think that if we just ignore it, and carry on as if nothing is wrong, the issue will eventually resolve itself? The reality we see at AccessEAP is quite different. People begin to feel resentful when issues are left unacknowledged or unresolved. Tensions often build up and people ‘blurt out’ their frustrations at inappropriate moments and in an unconstructive manner.

It is tempting to want to avoid hurting or upsetting the person we are speaking with, by blaming someone or something else. While this may seem like a gentle approach which may take some of the heat out of the discussion, often the other person can detect the lack of honesty in our response. It takes courage to have a genuine and transparent discussion around sensitive issues or concerns as they may respond with anger, tears, or distress.

One of our role’s here at AccessEAP is to guide and coach people how to have brave workplace discussions which require honest and clear feedback. What I have learned from our clinical professionals is that timing and planning of conversations is crucial to their success. Grabbing a moment with someone as you pass them in a corridor, for example, or at the end of stressful working day is almost inevitably going to set you up to fail. Arranging a time, preparing for the conversation, choosing the right words, reflecting on the outcome I want to achieve and managing my emotions so they will not limit me are all necessary for a successful conversation.

I am reminded of the phrase to ‘test the waters’ when entering into one of those potentially tricky discussions. What this means, is to get a sense of the emotional state of the person I’m speaking with and to check in with myself. Emotions are powerful and can derail conversations. It is vital that a conversation is had sooner rather than waiting too long although it’s never a good idea to talk to someone if you feel angry. We cannot always avoid angry feelings; the other person may become defensive and upset, so equipping oneself with techniques to de-escalate or manage angry responses is worth considering.

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Let's talk to each other

With the new year upon us why not take the opportunity to get to know your peers. Welcome a new employee or get to know a person in a different department.

If you're stuck for ideas, why not try the below activity.

  • Leave "Conversation starters" in lunch/break rooms to help encourage discussion between colleagues. "My first ever job was…" "My favourite holiday destination is…"

This could be a new question each week or a once off activity to get people talking around a certain topic or time of year! Awareness days provide a great opportunity to start these kinds of conversations.

Coming up in March:

Don't forget to get creative with technology to connect those who can't be present physically.

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

Published in HASHTAG, a NewsCompany.com.au publication on 19th Dec, 2018

The answer lies in effective goal setting says Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director of AccessEAP. 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.

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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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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
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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.