AccessEAP blog

Equipping your people

The events of the past year have had some unexpected outcomes. On a personal level, many of us have realised that we can do things that we hadn’t previously thought possible or that we “had it in us” to do. Similarly, for many organisations, the ability to move quickly and implement change when restrictions were in place was downright amazing. This realisation that we can rise to the challenge can be very empowering. As leaders, we know that some people in our team like to play it safe and are reticent when it comes to trying new things, but when given the right opportunity, they will exceed expectations. It can take time and effort to find the right development path to ensure they can contribute to the best of their abilities.

So how can we ensure that we give our people the opportunities to be their best at life and work? We're turning our spotlight on self-awareness and equipping your people with the information they need to make better recruitment and development decisions.

We've created a  Leader Tool that provides ways to harness information and apply reliability and validity to the development process to ensure you are setting your people and business up for success.  As well as a Personal Tool that focuses on self-awareness and making time to take stock of where you are after an unusual year. 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.

Focus on Self-Care and Connection

We've reached a milestone together. We are now 12 months into a global pandemic. It's no wonder that we have found ourselves talking about challenging times. When we pause and reflect on the pandemic's duration and ongoing nature, its influence on our work and personal lives will take years to continue to unfurl.

I'm sure everyone is looking forward to the Easter break and possibly school holidays. We recognise those affected by the recent floods, and this week we are aware that Queenslanders are faced with a new lockdown. As humans, we are more adaptable than we give ourselves credit for.  Whether you have been impacted directly or indirectly or feel the weight of media coverage of traumatic events, the break may be a good time to look after yourself and connect with family, friends and loved ones.

We're turning our spotlight to self-care and connection. Your personal tools are part of the 2021 Wellbeing in Focus Calendar, and now is a perfect time to highlight taking a good look at ways to practice self-care, connect and notice how you are travelling. Find the Wellbeing Calendar Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website as well as the AccessMyEAP App. 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.

Support through the NSW & QLD Floods

Australia is a country of extremes which can challenge us and impact our lives in profound ways. Twelve months ago, we were coming out of one of the worst bushfire seasons in many years, followed by floods and hail storms and then a global pandemic. Right now, parts of NSW and some parts of QLD are experiencing a 1-in-100-year weather event which is causing floods, losses and damage across the State. Natural disasters like the current storms and floods disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities.

It is important through times such as these to identify those of your people who may have been directly impacted by the storms and floods and provide assistance where possible. Storm and flooding events such as these can be challenging, as the combined uncertainty about the immediate situation as well as fear and concern for what may lie ahead over coming days and weeks as storm waters continue to rise can exacerbate our thoughts and feelings.

As a leader, your organisation plays a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting your people and their families in the immediate aftermath and moving forward. We encourage you to help your people feel they can focus on their immediate priorities, which is the physical safety of family, friends, loved ones and their homes and possessions. As a leader, take the time to check in with your people, and where appropriate, remind them that their EAP is available and able to help support them through these challenging times. Many people will want to be seen as “coping” so asking how they are going is really important. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.

  •  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.
  • 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. Keep talking to gain clarity on what assistance they need.
  • Do not catastrophise: It is common to reflect on the "what ifs" or "what might have been". Do not speculate on how much worse it could have been. Avoid comparison of stories as each person has a right to their feelings.

To support those that may have been affected by the event, we have included documents for individual strategies (download pdf here) and tips as well as information for managers and leaders (download pdf here). These tools are also available through the AccessMyEAP App.

If you have any questions or would like to better understand what you can do that will meaningfully support your team, the experienced clinicians on our Manager Support Hotline are able to help you help your people. As manager, your individual needs matter just as much. Reach out for support when and if you need it. We are here to help. Contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

AccessMyEAP, here to support your people

It’s been another difficult week for many people around Australia who have suffered physical losses and hardship, which will continue into the next week. A tough 12 months just got tougher for many people now affected by floods and storm damage. It is normal to feel sorry for ourselves and then do a quick check and rank our suffering. We’ve had some of our own people be directly impacted, or had their friends, family and loved ones be impacted.

No matter the scale of the impact to our lives, from wellbeing, physical loss through to hurt we still need to process our feelings, get some support (and maybe some empathy), put it in perspective and keep going. This can be easier said than done, but that is exactly where AccessEAP can help. We're turning our spotlight on the AccessMyEAP App and how it can help you and your people to recognise the importance of looking after your wellbeing and building it into your everyday.

We've created tools that highlight how taking steps to look after your wellbeing can be empowering, as well as suggesting ways to help your people proactively use the resources available to them as part of your EAP. 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.

For more information and support through the NSW & QLD Floods, see here.

Recognising fatigue

How many of us can truthfully say that we regularly feel fully rested and refreshed after the year we’ve had? Many people often underestimate the importance of sleep to our overall mental health and wellbeing. In the ‘busy-ness’ of our lives, in the general day to day, it is a common habit to prioritise and value an action bias. We value ‘go-getters’, envy those hyper-achievers who can operate on less than 5 hours of sleep every night and daydream of how much more we could fit into our days.

A month ago, we highlighted the large increase in Google searches for insomnia last year. With World Sleep Day last week, it may be just the opportunity to help your people who are struggling to get a good night’s sleep. A restful sleep balances our body and brain. It restores hormonal and chemical balance, and processes the events and experiences we have been through. As leaders, we can promote positive lifestyles and behaviours to our people through some simple messages and show that balancing and integrating work and life is important so we can be our best.

To stay strong and healthy for the next twelve months is probably going to take more self-management than it has in the past – simply because we are facing uncertainty. Self-care has a big part to play, so we will keep reinforcing its importance and offering practical applications. Looking at our sleeping habits is a vital component of a good self-care practice. We've created tools to highlight how to set yourself up for success by implementing good sleep practices, as well as outlining ways to recognise fatigue and start the conversation around the mental health impacts of a lack of sleep. 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.

Support through Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like floods, bushfires, droughts and 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 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.

Foster dignity and respect through the Wellbeing Calendar

Over the past few weeks, the media has been increasingly filled with challenging stories about allegations and reports of workplace misconduct. The overarching themes are around abuse of power, disrespect, inequity and fear. The recognition of Grace Tame as Australian of the Year 2021 may have encouraged many other women to draw courage and to come forward and tell their stories.  These testimonies are coming out in different types of organisations and industries and are challenging leaders to look at their own organisational culture and behaviours within. As leaders, we often look closely at team dynamics to help find ways to support individuals and teams to be their best. It's timely we're talking about the next Quarter of our Wellbeing Calendar, which emphasises positive behaviours in the workplace to identify issues early, raise awareness, build engagement, and embed behavioural change.

This week we turn our spotlight to launching the next quarter of the AccessEAP 2021 Wellbeing In Focus Calendar. We have also created an extra Leader Tool - Championing Dignity and Respect, to support your leaders. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.

The Wellbeing Calendar and associated tools have been created to help you. Your Wellbeing in Focus Calendar Toolkit includes a Q2 Leader Tool and How-to Guide as well as the Q2 Wellbeing Tools/Tip Sheets. They are available in the Employer Login Area as well as through monthly updates on the Employee Login Area and AccessMyEAP App.

We need to keep the conversation about mental health and wellbeing going. We know it isn't easy, but we are here to support you and your people. 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.

Celebrate and support diversity and inclusion

We're excited to talk about diversity and inclusion this month. With awareness days in general and Harmony Week in particular, it's easy to fall into a tick box routine, invitation to morning tea sent, social media post drafted and approved, and in our busyness to get on with the day to day, we can miss the opportunity for real reflection or discussion. The pandemic has leaders more than ever explaining the "why" behind what we do.

We're turning our spotlight on diversity and inclusion and the strategies we need to foster and develop to achieve real progress personally and in our organisations.

We don't have to look far to see the value in committing to diversity and inclusion in our teams. The benefits are evident when we get it right, but the wins don't always come easy in this area. What does Harmony Week mean for us 12 months on? As leaders, what more do we need to be mindful of when our experiences of workspaces and ways of working are so very different? How can we rise to the challenge of the shifts required to ensure that all of our people's needs are met?

Our leader tool we've created provides practical ways to ensure diversity and inclusion are part of how you and your teams work, while our personal tool provides day-to-day ways to support diversity and inclusion. 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.

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.

 

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

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 to Give Compliments

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Here are five ways to help you give and receive meaningful compliments that will lift the person you are complimenting as well as putting you in a positive mood. 

1. Be Specific

Detail is the heart of a great compliment. The fact that you have noticed something specific shows that you are attentive and engaged, you might even say mindful. Compliments that indicate you have paid attention or that the recipient has done something that has really made a difference will be much more valued.

2. Be Genuine

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.

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

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. 

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.