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Sharon Bent joins the CommuniCorp executive team

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Thursday, July 09, 2015.

CommuniCorp is excited to welcome on board Sharon Bent, joining our experienced team as a Principal Consultant Psychologist. Having consulted to CommuniCorp for several years, Sharon has now taken on an executive leadership position and will be heavily involved with national CommuniCorp operations and service delivery.
 
Sharon is a highly skilled organisational psychologist and coach with over 20 years experience facilitating groups and training programs in a wide variety of organisations including the NSW Parliament, Westpac, Herbert Smith Freehills, CSIRO, University of Sydney, National Measurement Institute, AstraZeneca, Telstra, Ageing Disability and Home Care, State Water, TransGrid, Australia Council for the Arts, National Prescribing Service, GE Finance, ING, University of Western Australia, Grand Pacific Health Pty Ltd, RailCorp, Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service, South Eastern and Southern NSW Area Health Services, and Sydney Airport Corporation to name a few. An expert coach and master coach trainer, Sharon draws on evidence-based tools from coaching and positive psychology to engage, motivate and inspire managers and leaders, to be and do their very best.

Sharon’s special interests involve developing a wide range of workplace and professional capabilities including high level motivating and influencing, organisational flourishing, resilience, management of complex people issues, psychological risk management, conflict savviness, high performance teams and maximising job-person fit. Her expertise in translating complex psychological principles into plain language practical strategies, coupled with her engaging and playful facilitation style, means that she is a highly sought after practitioner, particularly when the learning messages are challenging to receive and implement.

Sharon has a Masters of Applied Science (Organisational Psychology), Graduate Diploma in Applied Science (Coaching Psychology) and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Psychology Major. She is an Adjunct Supervisor (Placement) at Macquarie University and an active member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), College of Organisational Psychologists, Interest Group in Coaching Psychology and International Positive Psychology Association. She has also served on the Australian Psychological Society’s National Ethics Committee, contributing to the maintenance of high ethical and professional conduct amongst psychologists across Australia - a voluntary position for which she was nominated by her peers.


QUALIFICATIONS

  • Graduate Diploma Applied Science (Coaching Psychology) University of Sydney 
  • Master of Applied Psychology (Organisational Psychology) University of New South Wales 
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Psychology major University of Wollongong


PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

  • Registered Psychologist – Registration No. PSY0001138870  
  • Australian Psychological Society (APS): College of Organisational Psychologists 
  • APS Interest Group in Coaching Psychology International Positive Psychology Association 


PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • Senior Consultant Psychologist, CommuniCorp
  • Consultant Psychologist, Master Coach Trainer, Hudson Talent Management 
  • Organisational Psychologist and Mediator, Davidson Trahaire 
  • Consultant Psychologist, Industrial Psychology Consultants 
  • Executive Director, Cumberland Health and Research Centre, University of Sydney

Workplace Mental Health - the hidden risks of workplace incivility to psychological safety and productivity.

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Wednesday, July 08, 2015.

Australian workplaces face an often invisible yet increasing threat to productivity that, if not addressed and rectified, can compromise the psychological health of employees and the workplace. Incivility is an insidious threat that can lead to increased absenteeism, presenteeism, grievance claims, workplace conflict as well as increased workers’ compensation claims for psychological injury.


David Burroughs, Managing Director, CommuniCorp says “The increasing ‘casualisation’ of the workforce has contributed to this and, often, uncivil behaviours are unknowingly modelled by managers. Poor role modelling in the workplace can directly increase counterproductive workplace behaviours. Additionally, with everyone being asked to do more with less, with technology blurring the boundaries between home and work, with instant mass communication mechanisms that are often devoid of niceties and or context, and the increasing general levels of stress that appear inherent within Australian workplaces, it is easy to see how levels of civility can be eroded.”

Organisations that neglect to address the psychosocial risk factor caused by incivility may find themselves in breach of occupational health and safety legislation, since it is a foreseeable risk that can be managed.

There are a number of ways organisations can reverse the trend of incivility, including:

  • Ensuring good person-job-fit and equipping people with the psychological capabilities, not just the technical/professional competencies required to do their role;
  • Conduct workplace training to help all staff understand the impact of both positive and negative behaviours;
  • Require managers to model desired organisational behaviours and make them accountable;
  • Set a company standard for email communications, such as not sending time-sensitive information via email;
  • Reinforce workplace values, codes of conduct and behavioural expectations as well as creating expectations around zero tolerance to uncivil behaviour;
  • Developing workplace systems, policies and procedures that promote a psychologically safe and healthy workplace;
  • Be sensitive to cultural differences and expectations and ensuring all staff understand what is expected.


David Burroughs said, “It doesn’t seem like a big deal if people forget to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ but when this lack of manners continues it can lead to an environment where people feel undervalued and unimportant. This can undermine the sense of psychological safety within the workplace, and create the foundations for more problematic workplace psychological health issues to develop.”

“By contrast, a workplace that fosters good manners, citizenship and teamwork is much more likely to thrive and be successful.”

Modified excerpt from CommuniCorp article first published on Business Review Australia | September 2014



"System-Based or Symptom-Based? Approaches to Workplace Mental Health"

During August CommuniCorp is delivering a series of talks together with leading global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills entitled "System-Based or Symptom-Based? Approaches to Workplace Mental Health". This national series will focus on the clear and urgent need for more integrated, systemic approaches to workplace mental health.

Led by leading corporate psychology expert, Dr Chris Stevens, these talks will take a candid look at the complex issues around the mental health landscape in corporate Australia.


Register your interest to attend, and receive additional information regarding these sessions:

Email info@communicorpgroup.com
Phone 1300 855 140
Web www.communicorpgroup.com








Case Study: How does Optus Manage Psychological Health and Safety?

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.


Current estimates indicate that untreated mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces approximately $10.9 billion per year, the bulk of which is comprised of productivity loss due to absenteeism and presenteeism.¹ With the financial and social implications clear, many organisations are now turning to their Human Resources and Work Health & Safety teams to identify and implement relevant strategies that can help to address the risks and opportunities associated with Workplace Psychological Health & Safety. Optus is one such organisation.


What issues was Optus facing in terms of workplace mental health?

Like many organisations Optus had delivered to their staff basic “awareness raising” programs, but were not able to identify any tangible results in return. It became apparent that Optus needed to do more in this space not only to manage these risks, but to empower their employees to respond effectively to psychological hazards in the workplace.

Optus recognised that a much more considered, strategic, evidence-based, workplace-specific approach was required – with an emphasis on early intervention and prevention, and the workplace systems and environment that influence psychological wellbeing. Megan Kingham, Manager Workplace Health says “While awareness programs have their place they should not be stand-alone. As with all wellbeing programs Optus recognises the need to address both individual behaviour and the working environment. There is no point raising awareness of mental health issues and then expecting people to work in mentally unhealthy workplaces.”

With concerns around the efficacy of the traditional ‘awareness’ programs on offer within the market, Optus turned to CommuniCorp to deliver a bespoke solution. Geoff Hoad, Director Workplace Health & Safety said CommuniCorp was able to help us develop a strategy that is the foundation of how we manage psychological risk at Optus.


What has been done so far?

After securing the critical senior leader sponsorship for the strategy, Optus began implementing the CommuniCorp “Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplaces Framework”. The framework encourages organisations to not only focus on the key psychological safety factors that are part of an organisations’ legal and compliance responsibilities, but builds on these as foundations to implement policies, practices, systems and initiatives that maximise the potential for positive psychological health and wellbeing. Key initial steps in the Optus Healthy Minds strategy were:

  • Updating Work Health and Safety policies to reflect a focus on psychological health and safety;
  • Developing a Psychosocial risk register that sits within the WHS risk registers across the business,including a thorough list of psychosocial hazards known to potentially cause psychological harm or injury and how they might present in the workplace specific to Optus.WHS representatives then customised this register to each specific business unit, recognising the different impacts that the psychosocial hazards might have on the particular work areas and the nature of the work undertaken across the different units. These new risk registers then allowed consistent reporting and data collection across different business units;
  • HR and WHS personnel were identified as a priority for training given that they are considered internal experts on managing psychological concerns/injury/illness and felt that presently there was a gap in this knowledge base. Full day training sessions with all Optus HR and WHS personnel were undertaken, with a focus on increasing their knowledge, confidence and capabilities for identifying, intervening, managing and preventing psychological health concerns at Optus.

What have been the results?

“Healthy Minds is an ongoing initiative for which baseline measures have been achieved, and which should provide a comparison for ongoing measures. In particular, investigating the impact on psychological injury rates, grievance complaints, and safety issues will be used as indicators,” says Kingham

Metrics indicate a number of key improvements for the HR and WHS personnel as a result of the training:

  • Confidence discussing mental health issues in the workplace – 19% increase (66% to 85%)
  • Confidence intervening if a colleague shows signs of distress at work – 18% increase (68% to 86%)
  • Knowledge of where to go and how to access internal support resources –19% increase (74% to 93%)
  • Confidence in capability for what to do and not to do to support someone at work with a mental illness – 29% increase (54% to 83%)

Typically the benefits derived from workplace psychological health initiatives take the form of reduced absenteeism, presenteeism and lower numbers in compensation claims. Statistics point to a positive return on investment of a $3 return for every $2 spent on successful actions.¹

Kingham says “whilst we are in the first stage of implementing the Healthy Minds Strategy at Optus, all indications are that there will be substantial return to the organisation.”


What’s next?

"We’re extremely pleased with the results from the first phase of our Workplace Psychological Health & Safety strategy. All indicators point to greater confidence within the WHS and HR teams when addressing these psychological health and safety issues and we are keen to see these skills developed more broadly within Optus. The next priority in terms of a capability gap identified is the people leaders"  says Megan Kingham, Manager Workplace Health.

Optus WHS are assisting all business units to undertake training for all people leaders, which takes the form of a full day training session focusing on the identification, intervention, management and prevention of psychological injury and illness for individual team members as well as the psychosocial safety of broader teams. Training is customised to business units, to reflect the day-to-day work scenarios faced by leaders across the different work areas. A big focus is on practical training elements, ensuring that Optus people leaders genuinely develop greater confidence and capability in relation to psychological health in the workplace.

“This is an emerging trend and increasingly important. We will continue to expand our skills and knowledge in order to create a work environment that supports our people,” says Hoad.


1. “Creating a mentally healthy workplace | Return on investment analysis” PwC March 2014

"The role of work-life boundaries and mindfulness in a psychologically safe and healthy work environment"

During June CommuniCorp is hosting a series of Senior Executive Business Forums entitled "The role of work-life boundaries and mindfulness in a psychologically safe and healthy work environment". These 2 hour breakfast forums hosted in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will be free of charge for eligible senior HR/WHS executives from large (300+ FTE staff) government and commercially focused organisations. To ensure a genuine peer based learning environment, attendance is limited to those directly responsible for developing and implementing practical strategies for workplace psychological health.

Led by leading corporate psychology expert, Dr Chris Stevens, these senior executive forums will take a candid look at the complex issues around work-life boundaries and the rise of workplace mindfulness in the corporate world. They will not only address the business case/benefits of developing capabilities in these domains, but also look at dispelling the myths surrounding these concepts, practical considerations around organisational readiness, critical success factors as well as how to maximise your program effectiveness in these areas.


Register your interest to attend, and receive additional information regarding these sessions:

Email info@communicorpgroup.com
Phone 1300 855 140
Web www.communicorpgroup.com








The Rise of Mental Health

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Monday, April 27, 2015.


There is a unique range of complexities and challenges associated with improving mental health in the workplace. In this article, David Burroughs, Managing Director and Principal Psychologist at CommuniCorp, discusses the rise of workplace mental health issues.

Associated with the challenges of improving mental health is the increasing recognition of the importance of a psychologically safe and healthy workplace: "That is, workplaces that promote individual, team and organisational psychological wellbeing and prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to employee mental health," says Burroughs.

"This type of approach is somewhat of an evolution from traditional approaches that focus on physical wellbeing and on mental health awareness/clinical disorders, in that it focuses on psychological health from a practical, systemic and workplace-specific perspective," says Burroughs, who notes that almost every organisation is asking its people to do more with less resources, is undergoing some degree of rapid workplace change, and has staff grappling with the blurred lines between work and home life.

"Many corporates are now driving their workplace psychological health initiatives out of their OHS areas, and they are focusing on psychological risk, moving away from community-based and diagnosis-based/medicalised approaches to ones customised for the idiosyncrasies of their own workplaces, business units and job types." There is a growing appetite for outcomes to be more than just awareness or participation, but to have discernible impact on human resource metrics and business indicators, and consider the sustainability of impact, according to Burroughs.

While the whole workplace mental health area can seem incredibly complex for many organisations, he says some of the biggest challenges they face in this area is getting the right strategy in place. "We are still seeing an over-reliance on EAPs or tertiary-type approaches that kick in after an issue has arisen, rather than a genuine focus on early intervention and prevention of psychological issues and approaches that address the psychosocial factors that contribute to psychological ill-health," says Burroughs.

"For many organisations, there is still a misguided sense that having an EAP in place, or doing R U OK? Day, or participating in Mental Health Week is all that's required. While R U OK? Day/Mental Health Week are great ideas and can be an incredible opportunity for launching more strategic initiatives, by themselves they are generally not sufficient to make a sustainable impact on workplace psychological health."

Many organisations grapple with the issue of how to move beyond awareness-raising to build real workplace mental health capabilities and how to build and implement practical solutions to complex workplace mental health issues, when much of the information is of an academic or community mental health nature, he says. "Of course, getting executive buy-in for adopting a more strategic, evidence-based initiative still remains a challenge," says Burroughs


It is critical that organisations understand the "business case" for developing mental health, as it applies to their organisation, according to Burroughs. "There is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to workplace mental health - some organisations want to contain workers compensation costs, others want to ensure WHS compliance, others want to improve customer outcomes, drive productivity, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, while others want to be an employer of choice," he says.

Defining what you want to achieve is important, as it helps guide the approach taken and helps define the metrics/measures you would use to help evaluate the success of the initiatives being put in place."

Understanding the psychosocial priority areas of an organisation is also a key part of the process. This can be done by having a closer look at existing HR metrics - such as absenteeism, psychological injury rates and so on - and identifying "hot spots", running targeted focus groups; alternatively, deploying one of the many psychosocial risk assessment tools now on the market, some of which are free to use. "In reality, though, all you need to do is ask most internal HR/WHS team members which business units are most under pressure, or look at the roles with the most uncertainty and change or scrutiny and you will often have a good indication of where your priority areas are," says Burroughs.

It is also important that organisations have a look at what they have done already, what resources they have in place, what psychological health-related policies and procedures they have already and how effective they are. "No one wants to reinvent the wheel. Most organisations have some psychological health-related infrastructure in place, and especially in times of limited budgets, it is important to build on what is already in place," he says.


If an organisation implements practical initiatives to develop the psychological health and safety of their workplace, there are a number of benefits that can be realised, says Burroughs. "this can include improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, reduced number of psychological injuries, greater engagement from employees, reduced bullying/harassment grievances, and improved teamwork and interpersonal relationships. Of course, it also relies on organisations capturing these metrics before and after initiatives, and on an ongoing basis.

"From research done to date, there are estimates of an ROI figure of upwards of 15, with greater benefits documented for smaller business. However, similar results would most likely be seen at team or business unit levels for larger organisations, should initiatives target the psychological health needs of the organisation at these discrete levels. With increased capability of people leaders and WHS/HR leaders, it is also more likely that opportunities for intervention and proactive management of psychological health issues are undertaken, and the outcome is likely to be far better than if no action had been taken. Through identifying and acting upon psychosocial risks impacting on their workplace, organisations will also be far better equipped to prevent psychological injury or illness, thereby supporting and building the psychological health and safety of their workplace."

This article first appeared in OHS Professional magazine, a Safety Institute of Australia publication. www.sia.org.au



"The role of work-life boundaries and mindfulness in a psychologically safe and healthy work environment"

During June CommuniCorp is hosting a series of Senior Executive Business Forums entitled "The role of work-life boundaries and mindfulness in a psychologically safe and healthy work environment". These 2 hour breakfast forums hosted in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will be free of charge for eligible senior HR/WHS executives from large (300+ FTE staff) government and commercially focused organisations. To ensure a genuine peer based learning environment, attendance is limited to those directly responsible for developing and implementing practical strategies for workplace psychological health.

Led by leading corporate psychology expert, Dr Chris Stevens, these senior executive forums will take a candid look at the complex issues around work-life boundaries and the rise of workplace mindfulness in the corporate world. They will not only address the business case/benefits of developing capabilities in these domains, but also look at dispelling the myths surrounding these concepts, practical considerations around organisational readiness, critical success factors as well as how to maximise your program effectiveness in these areas.


Register your interest to attend, and receive additional information regarding these sessions:

Email info@communicorpgroup.com
Phone 1300 855 140
Web www.communicorpgroup.com








Strategic Planning for Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplaces

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Monday, March 02, 2015.

SENIOR EXECUTIVE BUSINESS FORUMS (2 hrs and Free of Charge)

SYDNEY, MELBOURNE, BRISBANE, ADELAIDE & CANBERRA | MARCH 2015

With growing recognition that awareness and diagnosis based initiatives are largely ineffective in stemming the rise of workplace psychological health concerns, many organisations are investing more time, in up-front planning and in ongoing program review, to ensure they are maximising their impact in this area. As such, this seminar is specifically designed to help guide senior HR/WHS executives in terms of identifying sustainable, strategic approaches for developing psychologically safe and healthy workplaces – where not only compliance issues are addressed but where the benefits of a flourishing workplace can also be achieved. It outlines the various policies, procedures, systems and people capabilities required to positively influence workplace psychological health at the individual, team/business unit and organisational level as well as options for identifying priority areas and quantifying program outcomes.

By dedicating time to strategic planning, and to ongoing refinement and review of programs already underway, organisations can maximise their return on investment, not just in terms of reduced psychological injury claims, and reduced absenteeism and presenteeism costs, but in terms of discernible improvements to engagement, corporate performance and productivity.

CommuniCorp’s team of senior psychologist have been working to achieve positive outcomes for corporate clients in this area for over a decade, drawing on and defining best practice approaches internationally. These highly applied sessions are based on our real world experience and will enable executives to make an informed assessment of what they already have in place, what they can leverage from, and what capabilities/action points can be developed in-house. Participants will also receive access to practical checklists and strategy guides, as well as a wealth of practical information on:

  • The practicalities of Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplaces (PS&HW)
  • System, policy and procedural considerations
  • Determining organisational specific ‘business cases’, psychosocial hazards and priority areas – action, strategies and tools
  • Roles and responsibilities – introduction to Necessary and Sufficient Skills Gap Analysis
  • Determining program effectiveness - what, how and when to measure and what to expect


Cost: Free of charge. Limited to 12 places. Maximum 1 representative from any single organisation. Eligibility and cancellation/non-attendance provisions apply*

To register your interest for this forum, please contact, visit www.communicorgroup.com, phone us on 1300 855 140 or send an email to info@communicorpgroup.com *eligibility criteria applies

*ELEGIBILTY CRITERIA

This seminar is designed for senior HR/WHS executives with strategic/operational responsibility for psychological health related initiatives from larger organisations (300+ FTE staff). The content, methodologies and activities/action points within the session are typically only applicable for those with strategic HR and WHS oversight in this area and not applicable to those in Injury Management/Rehabilitation/RTW roles.

For Injury Management/Rehabilitation/RTW professionals and those in HR/WHS Advisory/Consultant or Business Support/Partner roles, please visit the CommuniCorp website or the Psychologically Healthy Workplaces Australia Linked In Group for information on relevant seminars and workshops when they become available.

Given the very limited places available, attendance at this event is by invitation and through expression of interest only (contact info@communicorpgroup.com). Preference will be given to attendees/organisations who have yet to attend a previous CommuniCorp event and/or are not currently CommuniCorp clients. Representatives and staff from, or affiliated with, corporate training organisations or psychological service providers, HR, WHS/OH&S and management related consultancies are ineligible to attend. Attendance is at the sole discretion of CommuniCorp


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