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Employer Response Post-Siege Incident

Posted by David Burroughs on Sunday, February 22, 2015.

Post-siege: Essential information for Employers

On Monday 15th December the daily routine of many Sydney office-workers preparing for a busy week at work unfolded in a completely unexpected and terrifying way. As news spread of the siege in the Lindt café, Martin Place, individuals commenced their own very personal journey in trying to make sense of the siege both intellectually and emotionally within the context of their existing world view.

How could someone intentionally hold another against their will and threaten their life?

How could such an event occur in a safe setting like a café as people went about their normal life?

How could something like this be allowed to continue for so long and still result in the loss of life of two innocent people? Why wasn’t it resolved sooner and without the loss of life like I often see in the movies?

Is it safe for me to work in the city? To go out in the city?


These are but some of the questions many everyday office-workers are still grappling with. There will also be some individuals whose journey is made more difficult. For those who have experienced traumatic events in the past such as an armed hold up or assault, the siege may trigger distressing memories. Others may know a hostage or be one of the hostages! Others may have been evacuated from a building or in ‘lock down’ to protect them against a very real threat, and this may have caused distress for some people.


Before sharing some tips about what to expect and how to help people should they require support, it is important to remember a few key points:-

  • Humans have a remarkable capacity for resilience! Many people have been through significant challenges in their life, some traumatic, and the fact that they have managed to lead productive and fulfilling work, family and social lives afterwards, is proof of this resilience. The same coping strategies that have helped these people overcome adversity in the past, can be deployed now to reduce the impact of the siege on them.
  • There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to trauma. It will have different impacts on different individuals and so the best way to support them will also vary.

The science does however does provide us with some general guidelines about what we can expect following a traumatic event like the siege, and how to best support a person should they require help.


To receive the full "Employer Response Post-Siege Incident" white paper, including What to Expect and How to Help following a traumatic event, email info@communicorpgroup.com or call 1300 855 140

Rethinking the Intersection between Work and Life

Posted by David Burroughs on Thursday, February 19, 2015.

For those of us who thought we had the work-life balance brief covered, it is time to reconsider.

The boundaries between work and life have never been more blurred than they are today. Our new work norms, including 24/7 digital connectivity, dual-earner households, and the growing use of flexible work arrangements, have left many of us struggling with how to ‘switch off’ from work and ‘show up’ in our personal lives (and vice versa).

While there are many benefits to this new reality, the costs of work-life conflict are high and take a toll on both individuals and their work organisations. Research has demonstrated that work-life conflict is linked to lower job satisfaction, organisational commitment and increased turnover, impaired physical and psychological health, and even higher rates of divorce. Finding innovative ways to help people integrate their work and their life is of strategic importance to organisations intent on attracting and retaining valuable employees.

As organisations seek proactive and protective solutions, it is increasingly understood that the concept of work-life balance is doing more harm than good. The concept of balance, just like the recently debunked myth of multi-tasking, is seen as setting us up for failure. Despite the best intentions, the metaphor of the scales is for many unhelpful. Michael Gilbert says in his post

Good Fences....

In regard to this exploration of “work-life balance,”… we have been using the word “balance” when what we really seem to mean is “boundaries.” Boundaries keep things in their place. Balance suggests the same amount of two things on either side of a scale.

Offering a more sustainable substitute encourages us to rethink the intersection between work and life in terms of what a recent Harvard Business Review article has called ‘boundaries not balance.’ By learning to set healthy limits we empower conscious choice and personal responsibility that improves our lives, making us more effective at work and at home.


To translate this re-think into practice, a three pronged approach is required:

  1. Policies and practices that reflect the changing nature of work and are aligned with both legal obligations and best practice;
  2. Managers and supervisors who are adequately trained to support and model a culture of integration; and
  3. Employees who are given the skills to be able to set healthy limits that are right for them and their work organisations.


BALANCE TO BOUNDARIES

Finding ways to integrate work and life that minimise conflict is of strategic importance to organisations committed to attracting and retaining valuable employees. To help organisations understand better the strategic implications of managing the intersection between Work and Life CommuniCorp have recently released the new workshop "Balance to Boundaries" (delivered under licence from Transitioning Well). This workshop is a great addition to CommuniCorp highly acclaimed workplace mental health and practical resilience training and tools. Details and the workshop outline are available here.


To learn more about CommuniCorp, and our programs, contact us on:

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

Psychological Health & Safety - Safety Professionals Workshop (Half Day)

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Monday, December 01, 2014.

Workplace psychological health is a critical issue affecting organisations internationally. Up until recently there has often been a reluctance to adopt proactive approaches to psychological health and safety, a tendency to avoid or minimise workplace mental health related issues and at times confusion as to who was responsible for mechanisms to ensure a psychologically safe and healthy working environment. With the current prevalence and costs of work-related psychological injuries, greater research into the costs of broader workplace mental health related concerns and clarity around known psychosocial risk factors, Safety Professionals have an increasingly important role to play in developing mentally healthy workplaces.

Safety Professionals have significant responsibilities in determining, actioning and sustaining preventative initiatives for psychological health and safety. However, ensuring psychological health and safety is not as straightforward as simply overlaying traditional physical safety models and approaches, and most safety related training does not adequately cover psychosocial elements.

The PSHW Safety Professionals workshop is designed specifically for WHS/OHS and corporate safety professionals to help develop capabilities specifically around identifying, controlling and preventing workplace factors related to psychological health concerns. This session provides an overview and guide to assessing psychosocial risk and implementing psychological health and safety initiatives for organisations.

Based on international best-practice and evidence-based principles, this half day in-house workshop covers:

  • Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplaces (PS&HW)
  • The business case for Psychological Health and Safety
  • Legislative/compliance requirements for Psychological Health and Safety
  • Roles and responsibilities for ensuring a psychologically safe and healthy workplace
  • Understanding psychosocial risk factors
  • Psychosocial Risk Assessment - Tools and Techniques
  • Mitigation actions – what to do and when
  • Prioritisation and action planning

This workshop develops essential capabilities for safety professionals to proactively respond to the increasingly business-critical workplace psychological health landscape.


"Psychological Health & Safety - Safety Professional Workshops" are available for delivery In-House across Australia. For more information or to schedule a session please contact CommuniCorp on 1300 855 140 or info@communicorpgroup.com


FREE "Strategic Planning for Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplaces" Senior Executive Business Forums

MELBOURNE | SYDNEY | CANBERRA | BRISBANE

CommuniCorp is hosting a series of Senior Executive Business Forums focussed on 'Strategic Planning for Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplaces' in February 2015 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.

As an introduction to the "Psychologically Healthy Workplaces Strategic Planning" Half Day Sessions 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


These sessions are hosted free of charge for eligible registrations, and expressions of interest to attend are now open. Full details of these session, and registration, is available here.



To learn more about CommuniCorp Group, and our programs, contact us on:

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

Psychologically Healthy Workplaces Strategic Planning Session (Half Day)

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Thursday, November 27, 2014.

One of the key issues faced by workplaces wanting to ensure they are building and sustaining psychologically healthy workplaces is knowing what really needs to be done and what initiatives are going to be most effective. This session, delivered by senior, experienced workplace psychologists, is specifically designed for senior WHS and HR leaders to initiate targeted refinement of attendees’ thinking around workplace mental health, strategic action planning, initiative prioritisation and discussions and planning as to evaluating program effectiveness.

In CommuniCorp’s experience, by spending dedicated time in this area, there are considerable cost savings that can be achieved in service delivery as well as greater consistency in workplace mental health efforts and identification of priority areas for an organisation to focus on. The session enables attendees to make an assessment of what they already have in place, what they can leverage from, and what capabilities/action points can be developed in -house.


Utilising CommuniCorp’s evidence-based Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplaces framework to guide the session and action points, this half day strategy/planning session covers:

  • Introduction to Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplaces (PS&HW)
  • The PS&HW Continuum – where do we sit?
  • Policies, Procedures and Systems – accessibility, utility and refinements required
  • Roles and Responsibilities - Gap Analysis
  • Priority Areas and Action Planning – Where to start and what to do
  • Outcomes and Metrics – Options for evaluating program effectiveness
  • Summary Reporting (optional)


"Psychologically Healthy Workplaces Strategic Planning Sessions" are available for delivery In-House across Australia. For more information or to schedule a session please contact CommuniCorp on 1300 855 140 or info@communicorpgroup.com


FREE "Strategic Planning for Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplaces" Senior Executive Business Forums

MELBOURNE | SYDNEY | CANBERRA | BRISBANE

CommuniCorp is hosting a series of Senior Executive Business Forums focussed on 'Strategic Planning for Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplaces' in February 2015 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.

As an introduction to the "Psychologically Healthy Workplaces Strategic Planning" Half Day Sessions 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


These sessions are hosted free of charge for eligible registrations, and expressions of interest to attend are now open. Full details of these session, and registration, is available here.



To learn more about CommuniCorp Group, and our programs, contact us on:

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

Presenteeism in the Workplace

Posted by Laura Kirby on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

Presenteeism is a workplace issue that has been receiving increasing attention for having a significant and costly impact on businesses, although this is just one key indicator that an organisation may not be psychologically healthy. It can be helpful to think about organisational psychological health as similar to an individual’s psychological health in that it operates on a continuum, ranging from ill-health, to healthy, right through to flourishing, with a range of different psychosocial indicators of where an organisation or a business unit or work team sits on the spectrum. Indicators that commonly reflect that a business may not be psychologically healthy include: increased interpersonal conflict; reduced team cohesion; increased psychological injury claims and rates; incivility amongst staff; escalated bullying/grievance reports and issues; poor engagement reports; high job demand and limited control and; poor person-job fit. Ultimately, all of these indicators tend to reflect a poor psychosocial climate within a business. Conversely, teams, business units and organisations at the flourishing end of the spectrum are charactered by a psychosocial climate of high engagement, high discretional effort, robust communication and innovation.

The Impacts of Presenteeism

Presenteeism and psychological health issues are likely to be seen at all levels of a workplace – across individual, team, and organisational levels. At an individual level, we may see worsening health, disengagement, and performance degradation that may ultimately lead to an individual being unable to perform the inherent requirements of their role. These effects then have a multiplier effect at the team and overall business level; at these levels we’re likely to see increased conflict and stress placed on team members who may perceive they are “picking up the slack” for employees displaying presenteeism, reduced team morale and effectiveness, and overall performance breakdowns and inefficiencies. The loss of productivity and associated effects result in significant cost and bottom line impacts for a business overall, not to mention the negative mental health impacts being experienced by the individual(s) in question, given how important ‘good work’ is to mental health.

One of the main factors contributing to employees coming to work when they are unfit to do so is work-related stress and perceived pressure to attend work, which in an organisational climate of “doing more than less” that we’re seeing currently, I’d suggest this is going to be an ongoing issue with significant short and long term impacts. Present estimates indicate that by 2050, the total cost of presenteeism will increase to $35.8 billion(1).

Negative impacts of presenteeism on individuals within a business include:

  • Worsening health with no opportunity for recovery
  • Greater performance degradation
  • May ultimately lead to an individual unable to perform inherent requirements of their role


The individual effects have a multiplier effect at the team and overall business level:

  • Impact of reduced individual productivity on team members, with others ‘picking up the slack’ and perceived unfairness, which may also directly lead to a heightened experience of stress
  • A contagion effect, including physical health conditions and negative attitudes across team members
  • Reduced team morale and effectiveness
  • Performance breakdowns and inefficiencies

What can be done?

A whole range of factors contribute to the prevalence of psychological health problems in the workplace, however, irrespective of the cause, implementing preventative measures is the best way to manage and minimise workplace psychological health issues. Which means businesses should be looking to create and maintain a psychologically safe and healthy workplace. This doesn’t mean implementing “feel good activities” around wellbeing but rather looking at strategic and practical ways to tackle root cause issues around psychological health issues at different business unit levels.

This may include implementing policies/practices that support psychological wellbeing in the workplace, increasing values alignment, encouraging good self-care and help seeking behaviour and managing person-job fit to ensure this is not exacerbating work-related stress, which is a significant contributing factor to psychological health issues. Importantly, there is an increasing trend for organisations to equip their HR, WHS and People Leader staff with the capabilities to identify and respond to factors that contribute to workplace psychological health and safety risks, so that we are intervening early and potentially preventing issues around workplace psychological ill-health.

Where presenteeism is an existing issue, some steps businesses can consider to address the problem:

  • recognise your business has a problem with presenteeism and openly communicate the importance of providing a psychologically safe and healthy workplace;
  • investigate and understand what kind of psychological health and safety issues are affecting your employees, which may differ across teams and divisions;
  • develop strategies to mitigate, reduce and prevent these root cause issues;
  • provide all levels of staff with the requisite capabilities to identify and address issues and concerns around presenteeism; this includes supporting staff to be proactive in managing their health and to seek professional help to address health issues, particularly psychological health issues, as well as providing staff with an understanding of the available workplace supports.

Looking to the Future

It’s difficult to determine whether workplaces ignore presenteeism, or whether it’s actually a case of workplaces not detecting that it’s a problem. Australian businesses need to be educated further about presenteeism and how to implement measures to ensure it doesn’t become an issue. Workplace leaders, including HR and WHS employees, should be equipped with more knowledge and skills around identifying and mitigating issues associated with presenteeism.

Ultimately, this will improve productivity, and in the long-term, generate a positive impact on businesses bottom line, along with the many aspirational benefits of providing a psychologically safe and healthy workplace.

1) Medibank sick at work report (2011)


FREE "Developing Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplaces" workshops

MELBOURNE | SYDNEY | BRISBANE | PERTH

CommuniCorp is hosting a series of full day ‘Developing Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplaces’ Capability Based Training Workshops in October and November 2014 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.

This practical evidence-based workshop is designed to help HR/WHS decision makers make sense of the increasingly complex workplace mental health landscape, understand psychosocial hazards, determine psychological health and safety priorities, and undertake a gap analysis to determine the current baseline early intervention and prevention knowledge and capabilities across various job roles. It is led by one of CommuniCorp’s Principal Consulting Psychologists and is a unique opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and skills from a recognised subject matter expert in workplace psychological health.

These sessions are hosted free of charge for eligible registrations, and expressions of interest to attend are now open. Full details of these session, and registration, is available here.




To learn more about CommuniCorp Group, and our programs, contact us on:

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

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