AccessEAP blog

Leadership Series – Positive Psychology: Taking a Strengths-Based Approach

Shari Walton, Organisational Development Consultant

Professor Martin Seligman, one of the world’s leading researchers in positive psychology identified that leaders who role-model positive psychology encourage a flourishing workplace, where scientific research is translated into improved leadership, better mental health, increased wellbeing and higher performance and satisfaction for individuals, improved employee engagement and retention and higher overall organisational effectiveness.

The way we work has shifted dramatically recently with hybrid working, remote teams and virtual interactions making positive workplaces more important than ever before. The ability of leaders to focus on strengths is crucial to achieving wellbeing.


Humans are hardwired to pay attention to negative experiences, and we have a propensity to learn from and use negative information more than positive information. Individuals may be unaware of what influences happiness in their life from one day to the next. At the heart of positive psychology lies the belief that people can lead happier, more meaningful, and fulfilling lives by moving their focus away from the negatives toward a more balanced perspective.

Many positive psychology exercises, such as gratitude journaling, lead to positive outcomes and the below exercise will help leaders find meaning and value from their own experiences by exploring their strengths and how they can utilise them to achieve desired goals and develop a sense of meaning and fulfilment.

Leadership Series – Resolving Conflict Constructively

Shari Walton, Organisational Development Consultant

Conflict is a continuum. Not enough can lead to apathy, artificial harmony, individuals suppressing their wants and needs and too much can lead to loss of self-confidence, disengagement, depression, break-down of work relationships or lack of productivity.

As a leader, how you manage smaller conflicts will impact how many escalate into serious conflicts such as severe employee relations issues, staff turnover, low employee engagement, and even legal claims.

Conflict may arise due to a range of factors including miscommunication, lack of information, conflicting goals, different values or unequal power and access to resources. Whilst conflict is a natural workplace phenomenon, if managed well it can be beneficial for an organization as it can stimulate diversity of thought, development of more mature and meaningful interpersonal relationships and contribute to innovation.

Consider a recent conflict you may have found yourself in and self-evaluate your response using this checklist:

Support through the Floods

Australia is a country of extremes which can challenge us and impact our lives in profound ways. Right now, parts of the country are experiencing floods which are causing 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.

LGBTIQ+ Support Line

What can you expect?

Our counselling services are conducted in an inclusive and non-judgemental space utilising the specialisations of our counsellors, psychologists, and social workers to the very best advantage. Our LGBTIQ+ Support Line is answered by trained and supportive consultants. We will be using pronouns to identify ourselves and we’ll be asking our clients how they would like to be addressed. We go a step further as AccessEAP will also provide ACON’s Pride in Health + Wellbeing Program training and support for all of our people, to ensure that communications, policy, documents and procedures are in line with best practice.

Those calling the Support Line will be offered counsellors that we have verified as being trained and/or have experience working with the LGBTIQ+ community, not only for issues related to gender and sexuality but also a broad understanding of the barriers, obstacles and generally different issues that LGBTIQ+ community experiences. Please feel free to make specific requests in order for us to find the most suitable counsellor. Our Customer Services Consultants will work hard to use culturally appropriate language and we welcome feedback to continually learn and improve our service.

We want people to feel they can be who they are and feel they belong.

Call the LGBTIQ+ Support Line on 1300 349 950.

NAIDOC Week – Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up

It’s another NAIDOC week celebration. The theme for this year – 2022 is as depicted in the above poster. It is a fitting theme as it encourages everyone that believes in what NAIDOC stands for to embrace just that, to GET UP! STAND UP! AND SHOW UP! on all that we have decided to achieve for our people and our communities. The fact is we cannot afford to rely on others to bring about much needed changes we so desire. Any desired achievements lie squarely on our shoulders, both old, and young emerging leaders of our Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people. As the theme calls us to do, Let us all - Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up where and when it matters most.

Now is the time to consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, organisations and community on the services and resources that best meet the needs of our people.

The tides are slowly moving and as the slogan says, we must be prepared to Get UP! Stand Up, and Show Up for without a united front we will remain standing where we find ourselves today.

 Lydia Gah, Holistic Counsellor and Coach

 

Support through a tragic event

Traumatic events 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 tragic events.

The immediate focus is to ensure that everyone is safe. At this present time, particularly with intense media coverage and access to information on the internet, it’s important to acknowledge that this is a heightened state of emotion for everyone involved. It’s important to be aware that everyone will respond differently and everyone’s needs will be different, initially and over time. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.

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

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

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

Create an environment that allows people to talk amongst themselves about fears and hopes related to the tragic events. Openly sharing with others has been known to promote personal recovery. There is also comfort in a shared community supporting one another.

Leadership Series – Growth Mindset

Jenny Kahn, Learning & Development Consultant

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So sail away from the safe harbour. Explore. Dream. Discover” Mark Twain

A mindset is much like a mental lens through which we view the world, which drives what we do and why. Mindsets are patterns of thoughts and behaviour, shaped and influenced by several factors such as our past experiences, temperament, learned behaviours and beliefs. Whilst mindsets help us identify opportunities, they might also trap us in self-destructive cycles. The good news is that they can be transformed.

When we have a fixed mindset, our lens can become very narrow. When we adopt a growth mindset our lens becomes wider, enabling us to have a more open, expansive perspective.

Renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck1 coined the concept of fixed and growth mindsets. She says that success comes from mindset– or the way people approach life’s challenges, rather than talent, education, and intelligence. People with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe they have innate and unchangeable intelligence, skills and abilities. People with a ‘growth mindset’ embrace challenges because they believe they can learn from experiences, develop skills, and improve if they practice and persevere – which can lead to greater achievement.

Welcome to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Dedicated Support Line

Welcome to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Dedicated Support Line: part of your EAP, provided by your employer and delivered by AccessEAP.

Facilitating a culturally safe experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People is the purpose of this dedicated Support Line. We recognise a need to offer the opportunity to speak with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Counsellor or a Culturally Sensitive Counsellor who has experience with individual, families and community and who understand the challenges you may face. By working together we aim to find the most appropriate support for you. Referral to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services can also be arranged.

Support when you need it: 24/7 365 days.

Our Client Services Team members are available to speak with you. Please call to make an appointment between EST 8am - 6pm Monday to Friday or outside these hours for urgent requests.

At AccessEAP our Cultural Wellbeing Team includes both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counsellors and Culturally Sensitive Counsellors. If appropriate our Cultural Co-Ordinator is able to assess and understand any individual circumstances and will work with you to identify the most culturally safe options for you or your organisation.

Together we find ways to provide culturally appropriate support that works for you, sharing knowledge in a respectful, confidential and safe space. Having a chat can help with the day to day challenges at home or in the workplace such as;

Video: Using the AccessMyEAP App

Presented by: Heaven Campbell & Anthony Bui
Duration: 4 minutes 40 seconds

Leadership Series – Manage Change

Samantha Dounis, Learning and Development Advisor

“There is nothing permanent except change.” - Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

In the workplace and indeed in life, change is a constant! Change interrupts the flow, up-ends the status quo and very often leads to conflicts. Effective leaders embrace change, recognise diversity, and manage it well by encouraging inclusion and helping the individual, team, and organisation to thrive. 

Organisations are impacted by changes from various sources - external factors we have no control over, including globalisation, changes in legislation or the economy, as well as internal factors like technological improvements, operational efficiencies or changes in products and services. Resistance to change is natural and should not be discouraged, but rather discussed and understood, bringing in diverse voices to work through the issues.

There are various models that can be successful for managing change in the workplace. John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and world-renowned change expert, laid out an eight-step change process.

The Great Resignation - Is it real?

The Great Resignation is a label first coined in the United States to describe the way that people were reassessing their priorities and looking for purpose after the new experience of working from home and being faced with the challenges of the global pandemic. This reassessment often resulted in people leaving their current job for another one or choosing a completely different path. Although we may not be seeing the same trend in Australia, there are certainly indications that workplaces are facing pressure from their people to provide more in terms of flexibility, benefits and remuneration.  This pressure is due to three main reasons:

  1. Burnout and Languishing. Burnout is characterised by chronic depletion, and energy depletion resulting in the inability to function. Languishing is characterised by “feeling less”. Less motivated, less productive, less engaged, less enjoyable overall. A general absence of wellbeing.
  2. What is referred to as mortality reality. When faced with a global health crisis we question what is important and why we do what we do. Most often we look for purpose and meaning.
  3. Flexibility and agency. A taste of greater control over the workday was achieved due to the work from home experience and consequently people want more flexibility.

Not all workplaces have the same challenges

Some industries are comprised of a mix of essential workers who have remained in their workplaces while other roles have moved to work from home or a hybrid of the two. Back in 2018, there was a buzz around “flexible work”. However, there was a fear amongst managers and leaders that productivity would decline, and people may take advantage. The worldwide pandemic put the theory to the test with overwhelmingly positive experiences. People were trusted to work from home and by and large rose to the task, exceeding expectations and maintaining productive working remotely. Of course, over time variations in productivity based on several factors may emerge.

Hybrid is now the buzzword

 Almost 75% of people want to be in the workplace some of the time but most wanted a hybrid of work from home and work in the workplace.

Leadership Series – Deep Work

Kristen Carroll, Organisational and Learning & Development Consultant

In a world that seems to uphold “multitasking” as a virtue, it can feel uncomfortable or downright rebellious to work counter to this. However, bouncing between your phone, inbox, instant messaging, and meetings is not the way to get ahead! Explore the concept of Deep Work as a means of tapping into your full potential.

What is Deep Work?

Cal Newport, an author and computer science professor at Georgetown University, defined Deep Work as: “Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” He explained that if you are not intentional about how you spend your time, you risk wasting hours of your day to what he describes as “shallow work”: “Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”

Build a Deep Work Routine

Video: Burnout - The Butterfly Hug

AccessEAP In The Moment Video Series: Burnout - The Butterfly Hug

Presented by: Julie Chalmers & Annie Panow
Duration: 4 mins 50 secs

 

Embedding Link: https://vimeo.com/692036908

Leadership Series – GROW Model

Shari Walton, Organisational Development Consultant

During 2021 we identified the value in organisations investing in building and nurturing strong, resilient leaders to enable their workplace to prosper.

Our Wellbeing Model is specifically designed to build positive mental health and a psychologically safe environment. Focusing on the leadership sector of the model, transformational leadership consistently encourages the relational components of leadership resulting in employees feeling valued and empowered.  

Transformational leadership is invariably associated with a greater sense of general wellbeing impacting a range of metrics including stress, burnout, sick leave, absenteeism, employee engagement and overall productivity.  

To support our customers, we will be publishing a monthly Leadership series blog covering each of the main transformational leadership capabilities. This series will include a snapshot of the relevant theoretical framework along with practical tips to apply the skill.

Video: Manager & Leader Hotline

AccessEAP Video Series: Manager & Leader Hotline

  • Presented by: James Austen
  • Duration: 3 mins 11 secs

Embedding Link: https://vimeo.com/672172696

Support through Floods and Natural Disasters

Australia is a country of extremes that can challenge us and impact our lives. Right now, parts of Australia are experiencing floods which are causing losses and damage across the east coast. 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.

Self-care in the festive season

As we reach the end of 2021 there has been an increase in cases in some parts of Australia. We appreciate that for many people this may be a time of heightened emotions, particularly as festive celebrations commence and for some, plans will need to change. We, as always, are here to support you through this. Tools and resources can be accessed via our website to support your mental health and wellbeing through the Employee and Employer login areas. Additional resources, including our Wellbeing Check, are also available on our app, AccessMyEAP.

It is important to remember that feeling anxious, fearful, stressed, angry or irritable are common and normal feelings during uncertain times like these. It is important to monitor your own physical and mental health during these times. Download our Self-care and Managing Stress Postcard for signs to watch out for and self-care strategies. 

If you do need support, reach out to us 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.

 

2022 Wellbeing in Focus Calendar

The AccessEAP 2022 Wellbeing in Focus Calendar has launched!

The AccessEAP Wellbeing in Focus Calendar is a great way to plan monthly activity around the areas that may be of particular importance to your organisation while making sure you are aware of a wider range of topics. Our Annual Planner gives a great overview while the quarterly themes help you to deliver information in manageable parts, highlighting importance and focusing attention.

This year we will have expanded our offering with an additional quarterly Wellbeing Spotlight and Connection Tool.

Our 2022 Wellbeing in Focus Calendar is available through the Employer Login Area of the AccessEAP website. The Wellbeing Tools will also be added to the Employee Login Area and AccessMyEAP App.

 

Fulfilling our social purpose - supporting the H.O.P.E. Program

The H.O.P.E. Program continues to be the main recipient of our charitable funding for vulnerable families and children. At AccessEAP, we are very proud of the donation of more than $1,000,000 for HOPE and programs to support vulnerable families, which was announced last month. Our contribution has been able to grow substantially each year, and AccessEAP would like to recognise the support of our customers in making this donation. Through partnering with AccessEAP, you not only support your employees’ wellbeing but you also directly contribute to our chosen welfare programs in Australia.

Renee's Story

"My name is Renee, I'm 24 years old and I’m a single mum to my baby boy Rory. The H.O.P.E. program has been so wonderful for me. It has given me such great support and has helped me to be a better mum to Rory. They set me up in a house to help me get on my feet, helped me with budgeting, food planning and set me and my mum up with counselling to help our relationship."

Read more about the H.O.P.E Program and Renee's story here.

We are pleased and proud to report that over the past 12 months, the H.O.P.E. Program and other vital support programs continued to exceed targets, and these are very special targets because they are about helping more mums, bubs and families. 

The Power of Positive Relationships

Relationships do many things, but the research is clear – they extend the length of our life. Close personal connections promote health in a variety of ways, for example, a reduction in stress, increase in personal growth and healthy activities (e.g., better diet and more exercise). 

Within our workplaces, we all have our favourite colleague/s that we naturally gravitate towards. They become our 'go-to' person. Whether we have been affected by restrictions or not, connecting with our colleagues and nurturing these relationships is important to our development and success. Developing these skills can also help us with our personal relationships outside of formal work settings.

We've created Personal and Leader Tools that reinforce the power of positive relationships. The Leader Tool highlights the power of connection for teams and how to make improvements. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.  

The above postcard can be found in COVID-19 Support under AccessEAP Wellbeing Postcards in the Employer and Employee Login Areas.

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
.

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.