AccessEAP blog

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.

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.

Signs of normalised harassment

The three most common forms of sexual harassment are subtle, being: suggestive comments or jokes (55%); intrusive questions about one’s private life or physical appearance (50%); and inappropriate staring or leering (31%). These less obvious acts can be played down or attributed to simple misunderstandings.

Classic examples of this include statements such as: “I was only joking”, “what happened to your sense of humour”, “I was only asking” or “no one else seems to mind”, which all minimise a victim’s concerns.

In the same vein, approximately one in five (18%)[1] people have experienced behaviour which would constitute sexual harassment, based on the legal definition, but did not label or identify it as harassment.

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.

While some people believe the show allows for authentic conversations about suicide, others believe the series exposes viewers to harmful suicide messages. One disturbing possibility is that it portrays suicide as a way of exacting revenge, solving problems and conflict.

headspace has created a blog post on the headspace website, which is available now, and provides young people and parents with information to consider regarding the show.

The blog post includes:

- tips for discussing the show safely

Understand Your Strengths

Management is one of the most important factors in developing an engaged, productive team, as maintaining and improving performance can often be complex and demanding task. However, positive psychology, and in particular strengths coaching, provides a way forward.

Here, AccessEAP’s Clinical Services Director, Marcela Slepica discusses Virtues in Action (VIA), a prominent approach to defining personal strengths.

“VIA has been developed by leading figures in Positive Psychology and charts 24 traits that fall within six categories. By defining and focusing on these abilities, businesses can provide employees with more fulfilling roles and empower them to achieve their best work.”

WISDOM

Seeing things from a different perspective, looking at the big picture and the how or why things are done, as well as finding inventive solutions to problems are all signs of what VIA defines as Wisdom. As a leader, it’s important to support these employees with opportunities to use their analytical mindset and creativity.

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.

Eleni van Delft, Accredited Strengths Coach and Director of Relationship Management, at AccessEAP, a leading not-for-profit Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider in Australia, recently implemented a new positive psychology approach to team management. The results have driven team engagement, communication and productivity for the business.

Here, Eleni explains how using Positive Psychology during a period of impressive business growth, allowed her team to play to their strengths!

Defining the approach

Avoiding loneliness in the digital age

Loneliness is a growing problem in our modern world, despite the prevalence of digital technologies that allow us to stay in regular contact. Regardless of how many people we come into contact with everyday, whether physically or via social media, email and other technology platforms, we still feel alone. Rather than the amount of contact we have with others, it’s our sense of belonging, feeling connected to and valued by, others that instead seems to keep loneliness at bay.

This issue seems especially relevant now as more people work remotely from home, commute longer distances for work and live alone. Being more separated from colleagues, family, friends and community can negatively impact our mental wellbeing, often involving feelings of social anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and depression.

A recent Australian survey found that 60 per cent of us often feel lonely and more than 80 per cent believe that the feeling of loneliness is on the increase in our society.

Here are some useful tips to help employers and managers combat workplace loneliness;

Provide platforms for employees to develop inter-organisational networks, e.g. peer supervision, team meetings, toolbox talks, team projects, or working groups.Encourage colleagues to consult with each other, and acknowledge collaborative efforts and achievements.Acknowledge individual efforts publicly so that people feel seen, visible and like they belong within the organisation.Put practices in place that will ensure employees are supported and heard if they are struggling or need assistance.Promote opportunities for inclusiveness, e.g. whole team lunches so people who cannot stay back for drinks after work can still mingle with colleagues, or ensure that people working remotely are kept in the loop with regards to important communications.Ensure managers are regularly checking in with their teams, and that they know their staff well enough to see or hear if someone is not okay.Use technology to your advantage and make the most of facilities like video chat and teleconferencing with colleagues working remotely. It is difficult to build meaningful connections using only email and instant messaging.Have anti-bullying protections in place to prevent technology being used to intentionally isolate people in the workplace, e.g. by excluding people from communications, or using email to publicly criticise or ostracise someone.Create a work environment where employees feel able to ask for help if they are experiencing feelings of loneliness.

Consequences in the workplace for sleep deprived Australians

In Australia, sleep deprivation is highly prevalent with 40 per cent of Australian adults experiencing some form of inadequate sleep. The blurred lines between work and home, increased anxiety and the need to sacrifice something to fit everything in are some of the reasons for this. Surviving on little sleep has almost become a badge of honour but fatigue from sleep loss can result in sleepiness during the day impacting our productivity and performance at work which can lead to reduced alertness, concentration and memory capacity. With the new year welcoming positive change, it’s the perfect time to remember the value of being rested and recharged.

Having sufficient, regular, good quality sleep is essential to maintain a strong, robust immune system so we can function effectively in our busy lives. Constant fatigue can really start to impact our productivity, accuracy and efficiency in the workplace. This can become extremely dangerous for employees and their employers, especially those working with machinery.

Inadequate sleep can affect learning and decision-making as well as increasing the risk of mental and physical illness. In 2016, 3,017 deaths were linked to sleep deprivation including 394 deaths from industrial accidents or road crashes due to lack of sleep. Lack of sleep causes a large proportion of motor vehicle accidents – estimated to be 23% of the total.

Evidence suggests that sleep loss contributes to poor health outcomes such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and possibly even cancer. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that ‘sleep disturbance’ was the fourth most common mental health problem for Australians aged between 12 and 24, after depression, anxiety and drug abuse.

It can be an expanding circle; a lack of sleep creates fatigue which impacts physical and then mental wellbeing and getting between eight to nine hours sleep a night can be difficult to achieve. However, if we review our sleep pattern there are probably some small things we can do to make our routine healthier – and we’re likely to be surprised by the difference they make.

Profit for purpose funding Puberty Clues app

On behalf of the Curran Access Children's Foundation, we are pleased to announce that the Puberty Clues app is now complete and ready for download. The Foundation has funded this project since inception and its a great example of profit for purpose in action. 

AccessEAP distributes surplus profits directly to community programs and via the Curran Access Children's Foundation. Our purpose is to provide support for emotional, social and human related problems. Our commitment to providing generous and meaningful funding for often intensive and life-changing welfare programs is one of the reasons we strive to achieve absolute best practice in all we do.

The support we provide is two-fold. As advocates for mental health awareness and providers of workplace wellbeing programs, our services positively impact the lives of workers and workplace culture. The profits from this rewarding work are then distributed to help those most in need. In an indirect way, our customers can positively share in the knowledge that they are also helping to make a real difference to people’s lives. 

Puberty Clues is a safe, fun way for 10-12 year olds to learn puberty changes through interactive exercises illustrating the physical and emotional changes they experience and the impact it has on their personal development. There is general information and specific resources for boys and for girls, guiding them through the journey to become healthy, responsible adults. The app includes illustrations, educational resources and common questions. The resource is developed as an addition to classroom teaching for students, parents and teachers. The app can be used as a standalone resource for family interaction to use in their own time.The app is now available for free download at Google Play and the App Store.

Workplaces must play a role in preventing domestic violence

Domestic violence is a common problem in Australia with one in six women having experienced violence at the hands of a current or former partner. Violence against women is estimated to cost the Australian economy $21.7 billion a year. 94 per cent of employees agree that employers should take a leadership role in educating their workforce about respectful relationships between men and women. However, a National domestic violence and the workplace survey revealed that 48 per cent of respondents who had experienced domestic violence disclosed it to a manager and only 10 per cent found their response to be helpful. 

Workplaces have an important role to play in supporting women experiencing violence. Often, for these women, the workplace provides a sanctuary away from the abuser. The organisation has a duty of care and needs to have an action plan in place outlining how to handle domestic violence situations. With White Ribbon Day having just taken place (November 25th), it’s the perfect time to examine current policies and perhaps consider introducing a structured plan.

AccessEAP assists companies by providing White Ribbon approved training and by educating employees as part of a domestic violence action plan based around three elements; Recognise, Respond, Refer.

Recognise

When a woman is experiencing domestic violence, it is likely that her patterns of behaviour will change. Managers should remain connected to their team to be able to recognise any changes. Some behaviours to look out for may include;

Support, respect and the Marriage Equality Survey

The result of the Marriage Equality Survey will soon be known and regardless of the outcome it may be a stressful time for some people in our workplaces and communities. At AccessEAP we encourage a culture of respect, diversity and inclusion. This can be a great deal more complicated than it sounds. In order to respect another's belief system or point of view there generally has to be a level of understanding and knowledge and/or a willingness to to seek understanding. This process can take time and individuals experiencing distress may benefit from using their EAP. Sessions are confidential and may be organised at a suitable location and time.

It’s important to support anyone who is experiencing distress and, if possible, help them avoid difficult and confronting situations. A standard response for your employees when dealing with the public may be beneficial. Be aware that everyone will respond differently and everyone’s needs will be different, initially and over time. Being prepared to actively provide support for people will enhance and promote their personal coping strategies and resilience. Here are some ways to promote a supportive environment:

If needed, allow additional time at home to spend time with family and friends.It’s particularly important for Managers to reinforce or establish an open door policy that allows employees to seek the appropriate care when needed.Create an environment that allows people to talk amongst themselves about the correct information and their feelings. Openly sharing with others has been known to promote personal recovery. There is also comfort in a shared community supporting one another.Be mindful and respectful of individual needs. Some people may feel uncomfortable about sharing their feelings and concerns. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel.Encourage people to communicate their needs, rather than assume you know what their needs may be.Maintain communication if an employee or student is away for any length of time.

Employees can Make an Appointment or Email a Counsellor using this website or our EAP In Focus App. In addition, our Manager Support Hotline can assist Managers with how to manage employee’s reactions and how to help their teams find the best way to move forward as soon as possible. Please contact us on 1800 818 728 or speak with your Relationship Manager.

CEOs must lead by example on workplace mental health

Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace has dominated the agenda for many companies focused on developing a healthy, sustainable and productive culture for employees, but what is missing from this conversation is the same priority for business leaders and CEOs to support their own mental health.

The culture of any organisation starts at the top, with the behaviour modelled by a company’s leader or CEO filtering down to employees. While CEOs take the world of their business on their shoulders, we have to remember that they are also people – susceptible to feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the immense workload and responsibility of running an organisation. It is this susecptibility or vulnerability, which is often difficult for leaders to acknowledge and show, thereby impacting their mental health and ability to function effectively.

Reducing the stigma during Mental Health Month

A major source of stress for employees with mental health issues at work is fear of judgement due to the stigma which still exists around mental health. October is Mental Health Month and the campaign promotes the importance of early intervention practices for positive mental health and wellbeing and aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

Getting serious about mental health during October’s Mental Health Month

Suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44 with more than eight deaths by suicide and a further 180 suicide attempts every day. Suicide rates are at the highest they have been for ten years so it’s even more important than ever to be having meaningful conversations particularly if you notice that someone may be struggling.

Job design must be considered to reduce workplace stress

With more and more Australians reporting work to be a major source of stress and research suggesting that one in six working age person is suffering from mental illness, managers need to take more responsibility in an effort to reverse this worrying trend. Workplaces need to move beyond promoting mental health awareness, and focus on mentally healthy workplaces. This suggests thinking about the way work is designed and what changes can be introduced to prevent psychological harm to employees.

Women's Health Week - It's time to put ourselves first

It's time to put ourselves first. The two biggest barriers for women not maintaining a healthy lifestyle is ‘lack of time’ and ‘health not being a priority’. Women’s Health Week is the time to put ourselves first, for just one week, and start making positive changes that can last a lifetime. We know women are leading busier lives than ever before and we have a tendency to let ourselves slip low on our priority lists. However, the health of those we love starts with us. By investing more time in ourselves, we are better able to look after the ones we love and care about. Click on the image below to find out more and register.

Facing men’s mental health stigma head on

Half of all Australian men will have a mental health problem at some point in their life and 1 in 8 will experience depression, yet they are far less likely to open up about what is affecting them than their female counterparts. With a recent focus on promoting a healthy body and healthy mind, AccessEAP is doing its part in building awareness in some of the more male orientated workplaces such as construction sites and mines.

Talking about what’s affecting them and taking action are proven ways for men to stay mentally healthy but it’s still difficult to get men to take that all important first step. Often in male dominated industries, the macho mentality still exists where men are reluctant to show sadness or vulnerability for fear of the perception of weakness. If men don’t feel like they can open up and access help, it can have a detrimental effect on their mental health, physical health and overall wellbeing.

Toolbox talks

AccessEAP has introduced toolbox talks in an effort to raise mental health awareness. These sessions focus on increasing awareness of mental health issues and helping men to see that everyone needs help and that help is available.

AccessEAP 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. Often at the beginning of a session, we struggle to get men to talk but by the end, they can be reluctant to leave and AccessEAP has witnessed large scale discussion amongst participants about issues that may be affecting them in their personal or work life long after the session has ended. The toolbox talks are not only helping men to reach out for help, but also show them their organisation cares about them and values their wellbeing.

Australian workers name conflict as major issue

AccessEAP has released data showing conflicts with managers and colleagues are two of the top 10 issues facing Australians workers.

Read more

Published in Facility Management 15th June, 2017

Half of all Australian men will have a mental health problem at some point in their life and one in eight will experience depression, yet they are far less likely to open up about what is affecting them ...

Read more 

How to manage post-holiday financial stress

The afterglow of the holiday period is gradually fading as many Australians face the reality of their holiday spending spree. With Australians spending nearly $10 billion on Christmas presents last year1 and almost two million saying the festive season will leave them with worrying debt2, it is not surprising stress levels skyrocket post holidays.

Returning to work after the fun of the holiday period brings a dose of reality. Someone who has spent more than they planned can feel out of control and stressed that they haven’t managed their funds as well as they perhaps should have. While stress is a normal part of life, constant levels of negative stress, or distress, can affect many parts of a person’s life, such as health, family, marriage and work.

Supporting your employees during the tragedy of the Melbourne CBD incident

Traumatic events such as the shooting and car rampage in Melbourne CBD 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.