Newsletter

Building Resilience

Resilience refers to the process of adapting while facing adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or other sources of stress. Resilience is not a trait people are born with, rather it involves behaviours, thoughts and actions which can be learned and enhanced.

10 Tips for Resilience:

1. Make and maintain connections

2. Remember that some things are beyond your control

3. Accept change is a part of life

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Parent Resources

We understand that work and family challenges impact each other. Here are some resources to help navigate the ever changing landscapes of parenthood.

iParent- Where you can learn about the digital environment and how to help your child have safe and enjoyable online experiences.

Reachout- Helping parents support their teenagers through everyday issues and tough times.

AccessEAP offers a Supporting Working Parents Workshop specifically designed to assist participants to address the challenges and benefits of being a working parent, understand the impact of high stress levels on parenting and to identify practical strategies and skills to manage these competing roles. The workshop can be organised by contacting your Relationship Manager and is ideal for up to 15 participants.

De-stress exercises

Work place stress can present in physical symptoms and manifest as fatigue, headaches, indigestion, insomnia and anxiety. Managing stress can be a key factor in feeling more productive and enjoying your work. A helpful technique that can easily be used is defusing thoughts that can lead to exasperating stress.

Research has shown that quietening the mind requires repetition and practice of various techniques to change thinking patterns. Negative or obsessive thoughts can increase stress and be unhelpful or destructive to an individual’s well-being. The exercises can use methods of visualisation, and thought awareness to assist being present. This can help to recharge energy, taking time out or simply to feel refreshed. Taking a few big deep breaths can be useful to relax the mind. Here are some simple exercises that can be incorporated into everyday life for a number of minutes from 3 to 30 minutes depending on the time possible.

  • Thought patterns

Practice changing negative thinking into positive by saying to yourself “in this moment if everything was going to feel perfect exactly the way it is, how would that feel, how would I see things at the moment and what would I be telling myself ?” “what would happen if I imagined that exactly what is happening at the moment is something that I planned” ie. Instead of saying to yourself “I don’t want this to happen, why is this happening”, etc imagine you are in control and it is actually your choice the way things are happening.

Stress can be exaggerated when we think about things that will probably never happen. Ask yourself “how in this moment can I focus on what is happening in the here & now, because it is unlikely that any of the thoughts I am having will ever happen. Perhaps I can trust myself that I can deal with whatever it is when the time is needed”.

  • Taste exercise

Sit at a desk with a cup of tea, coffee or juice initially smelling the aroma or scent as you take big breaths and then look at the colour of the beverage. Take a sip as if it is the first time in your life that you are tasting the beverage. Allow your thoughts to concentrate on the experience making it as pleasurable as possible. This exercise can easily be used in the same capacity when you eat.

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Tips to Save Time

We've put together a list of some ways to save time in our everyday lives. Not all will suit everyone but you may find one or two that can make a difference!

1. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to tasks that can be done in under 5 minutes, just get up and do it.

2. Make important decisions early in the day when you are fresh rather than trying to do this at the end of the day.

3. Play an up tempo playlist to get you moving and up the pace. It can reduce boredom and add some fun.

4. Keep distractions at bay – if you need to focus on a task turn off your sound notifications and put your phone out of sight.

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Providing support, reassurance and caring

This month’s newsletter theme focuses on stress and how to manage it. However, in light of recent tragic events in Christchurch, my attention is lamentably drawn to how we manage stress and grief relating to events far beyond our control.

On behalf of everyone here at AccessEAP, I would like to extend our sympathies to everyone affected by the tragic events that took place in Christchurch on Friday, 15th March. 

Later that Friday afternoon, when the enormity of what was happening in Christchurch became evident, my team went to work establishing what was happening on the ground and getting support to our customers as soon as possible/practical (due to lockdown). Our aim was to remind our customer’s that we are here to support their workplace wellbeing every day but especially when devastating events such as this challenge all involved. We were able to provide an outline of what would be happening over the next few days and also provide guidance on how to support employees initially and over time.

The messages are becoming more familiar to us all as we partner with our customers through drought, floods and bushfires as well as man-made traumatic events. Everyone processes trauma differently and even if we consider that we know each other well there are still events that will trigger unexpected responses. The guidelines we provide are intended to give room for all such responses. Within the AccessEAP team, we have New Zealander's and those with very strong ties with New Zealand and particularly Christchurch, a city that has had more than its fair share of adversity in the last few years. Their grief and sadness is very real and they are being supported now and will continue to be – there isn’t an expiry or end date to all this – it does, however, get better. What we are looking to do is to create the environment to proactively support employees and encourage them to process and work through the trauma to aid in recovery.

Often 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. Here are a few messages I would like to recap from our recent communications:

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It's Time to be Curious

One of our values at AccessEAP is curiosity, this is particularly relevant when it comes to good relationships, mental health and diversity in workplaces. It’s easy to make quick judgements about people based on stereotypes. Psychologists say that its common for people to jump to conclusions about others, as it provides a short-cut for our thinking processes and means we can focus our mental efforts on other things.

There are many ways that mental health issues can manifest in a workplace, and some of these behaviours can be very challenging. This can create misunderstandings, assumptions and even conflict between people. For instance, someone who is frequently absent from work or irritable when they are at work, will most certainly have an impact on their team and the people responsible for managing them. It’s easy to become frustrated with this type of behaviour and label a person as “difficult” or “hard work”.

The challenge for all of us is to stop and ask questions, to be curious about the behaviour. It takes time and effort to look below the surface of someone’s behaviour. An analogy which psychologists commonly use to encourage us to better understand one another is the iceberg. Often we only see that which is above the water surface, the proverbial tip of the iceberg. We don’t see what lies beneath, and we certainly won’t understand what is under the surface if we don’t ask questions. This is where an attitude of curiosity becomes important.

If someone in your workplace is behaving in a way that bothers, frustrates or concerns you, take a pause to try to understand what’s going on. Remember our tendency to take short-cuts in thinking. Next time you find yourself doing this, pause and ask if there could be alternative explanations. Our own biases tend to come into our interpretations and assumptions. The only way to really understand why someone is behaving a certain way is to ask.

Look around at the people in your work environment and try to name three things that you know about them based on conversation or questions you have asked. What do you know and understand about them as a person? Recently we used a technique during Feel Good February. All employees were invited to use G.L.A.D as a guide to write something anonymously to another employee. G -what am I grateful for about the other person? L- what have I learned from this person? A - what do I appreciate? and D, what delights me about the person or their behaviour. Employees could write something about one or all of these. This exercise was rewarding especially because it was anonymous and a great way to inspire curiosity and to focus on the positive in each other. For more information see our G.L.A.D. blog post here.

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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.

 

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.

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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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
.

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.