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“Psychological Wellbeing: Applying a risk management approach and developing better prevention strategies”

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Tuesday, September 01, 2015.

Dr Chris Stevens gives keynote addresses for the international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills’ Safety Leadership Series events in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.

With widespread recognition of the need to address workplace mental health there has been a proliferation of approaches, with quite variable effectiveness, adopted across corporate Australia. Not surprisingly, therefore, there were huge turnouts to hear Dr Chris Stevens put all this in perspective and give some practical, evidence-based guidelines.

The thrust of his talk was that organisations need to take a risk-management approach to actively promote workplace psychological health. Dr Stevens contrasted this with the current workplace emphasis on reactive community and not-for-profit based programs that are symptom and mental ill health oriented and which mostly take a tertiary, treatment and psychological injury approach.

Dr Stevens put the case very strongly that what is required is a commitment and capability to develop real early intervention capabilities, as well as adopting workplaces systems and processes that proactively address the psychosocial factors that influence psychological wellbeing in the workplace – not just ‘ticking the box’ with an EAP provision and a RUOK day. He made it clear that, the latter, while important, are insufficient as they tend to address symptoms not causes, and do not address psychosocial factors, culture, systems and practices that strongly influence wellbeing at work.

As reported in the Safety At Work blog, Dr Stevens addressed the need for organisations to develop a holistic approach when addressing psychosocial workplace hazards, and was critical of the common tokenistic approaches, which deliver little or no lasting benefit. (1) He also gave practical guidelines for actions and indications of what does work to minimise psychological risk, using case examples, including an emphasis on Safety and HR professionals working more closely together to address hazards that impact on psychological wellbeing.

In reality, a much more work-specific, strategic and evidence-based workplace approach is required – with an emphasis on early intervention and prevention and addressing the workplace systems and environment that influences psychological wellbeing.

If you would like guidance for your organisation in developing a more systematic approach to workplace mental health, get in touch with CommuniCorp on info@communicorpgroup.com or 1300 855 140.

(1) SafetyAtWorkBlog: http://safetyatworkblog.com/2015/08/17/psychologically-health-workplaces/



Where can You hear from CommuniCorp experts?

CommuniCorp have been invited to join the program of many Australian conferences being hosted over the next few months. This is your chance to meet the team and learn from our experts on best practice in workplace mental health initiatives, developed both here in Australia and around the world. See a list of events on our calendar here.

If you plan on attending any of these upcoming events please let us know, we would be happy to arrange a one-on-one discussion to review your workplace mental health strategy. Email us at info@communicorpgroup.com


Organisational Snapshot Review Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplaces

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Monday, August 31, 2015.

Over the last few years organisations have increasingly started to implement and adopt more initiatives and programs to help manage mental health issues in the workplace. With such a vast array of services being implemented, there is increasing pressure on organisations to ensure they are maximising their return on investment, that their approaches are integrated and evidence - based and achieving tangible outcomes for the organisation. It is easy for workplace mental health related activities to seem somewhat disparate and disjointed, and for unexpected and often minor policy, procedural or capability factors to limit the effectiveness of initiatives in place. Objective review and refinement of these initiatives is critical to their long term success, and typically results in significant cost savings and performance improvement across many organisational areas.

In response to this issue, CommuniCorp is offering a new service that provides an organisational snapshot of psychological health initiatives against recognised organisational psychological health frameworks, and looks at the balance of primary, secondary and tertiary factors, as well as the degree of integration of initiatives and actions. This service also provides corporate clients with recommendations about how to improve, embed and sustain initiatives to improve the psychological safety and health of the workplace. The review helps clients determine and enhance the effectiveness of their workplace mental health initiatives and maximise their return on investment and impact.

For more information about our Snapshot Review service and how it might benefit your organisation, please contact info@communicorpgroup.com or call our Head Office on 1300 855 140.


Where can YOu hear from CommuniCorp experts?

CommuniCorp have been invited to join the program of many Australian conferences being hosted over the next few months. This is your chance to meet the team and learn from our experts on best practice in workplace mental health initiatives, developed both here in Australia and around the world. See a list of events on our calendar here.

If you plan on attending any of these upcoming events please let us know, we would be happy to arrange a one-on-one discussion to review your workplace mental health strategy. Email us at info@communicorpgroup.com


New: Workplace Psychological Health Advisory Services

Posted by Laura Kirby on Wednesday, July 15, 2015.

New: Workplace Psychological Health Advisory Services

Let’s face it, sometimes managing workplace mental health related matters is tricky. At CommuniCorp, we recognise that organisations will not always have the internal capability to address inherently tricky, sometimes high-risk, people- management and psychological health related issues. It is quite common for senior HR/WHS personnel to feel ‘out of their depth’ or in need of a sounding board when it comes to managing complex workplace mental health related matters. To help remedy this, we are now offering organisations specialised workplace psychological health advisory services to extend internal HR/WHS capabilities.

 

Rather than EAP or Manager Assist type functions, these services provide ready access to CommuniCorp’s Principal Consultant Psychologists (telephone, or face to face) for:

  • Strategic advice on workplace psychological health and safety matters
  • Incident management
  • Program implementation support
  • Subject matter expertise on internal board/advisory panels

 

With CommuniCorp’s team on hand, organisations can significantly augment their existing strategic and operational workplace psychological health capabilities and can benefit from the decades of combined international experience in workplace mental ill-health prevention, early intervention and management. Our Workplace Psychological Health Advisory Services are available on a retainer basis, from 4 hrs per month. With the ever increasing costs and complexity of psychological ill-health in the workplace, psychological injury claims and increasing frustration as to the effectiveness of many providers and activities in this domain, it makes sense to have access to the best independent, professional advice available.

 

For more information about our Workplace Psychological Health Advisory Services, please contact info@communicorpgroup.com or call our Head Office on 1300 855 140.

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

Signs of Organisational 'Psychological Ill-Health'

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Tuesday, October 14, 2014.

In the first of a two part series, David Burroughs, Managing Director and Principal Psychologist at CommuniCorp discusses the red flags that indicate organisational Psychological Ill-Health'.

A psychologically safe and healthy workplace is one that not only ensures it meets WHS compliance/legal obligations when it comes to psychological health and safety, but one that has the requisite culture, policies, procedures and people capabilities that enable the overall organisation, its teams and its individual staff members to thrive.

While every organisation wants to sit at the upper end of the Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplace continuum and benefit from all the associated innovation, discretionary effort, robust feedback and overall performance, unfortunately getting to the thriving stage takes a lot more than just a clever values statement, mental health awareness, a lunch and learn happiness session or a quick course of coaching or mindfulness.

In truth, many organisations are still grappling with underlying workplace conditions, systems, capabilities and issues that are limiting their ability to transition to the point of flourishing and thriving. Recent media has been thick with metrics about workplace mental health return on investment, the issues of stigma, mental health disclosure, and the perils and costs of psychological injury, and there is a wealth of information about the types of metrics, tools, diagnostic approaches to quantifying workplace psychological health factors (contact CommuniCorp for more commentary in this area). But for those organisations not wanting to invest time and money in huge organisational psychosocial risk surveys, tools and analyses, what are some of the tell-tale signs that an organisation might be psychologically ‘unhealthy’?

Having consulted across dozens of organisations internationally, David Burroughs from CommuniCorp has provided the following anecdotal signs of workplace psychological ‘ill-health’:


Imposed Values

While it is great when an organisation has well defined and articulated workplace values that people understand, believe in and operate consistently with, the truth is you cannot simply impose a set of values on others and expect unilateral commitment and compliance (or even understanding). Similarly, if there is a disconnect between espoused values and the core beliefs and values that actually exist in work teams and workplaces, or values are not being modelled by the executive and/or people leaders, or aspects of the workplace (such as competitiveness, unaddressed incivility, under resourcing) prohibit workplace values being adhered to, an organisation’s potential to psychologically thrive will be seriously undermined.

Disconnected Executive

To develop a psychologically safe and healthy workplace, executive commitment is crucial, not just in terms of securing funding for program, but more importantly in their authentic and visible support for psychological health based initiatives. Developing a PS&HW takes time, effort and investment, if the Executive is not visibly seen to be involved, or is seen to be disconnected, misaligned, paying lip service to and unless they are not just endorsing but modelling best practice and exemplary behaviour in this area, organisations have a real psychological health problem. It is critical that all executives not just buy in to but understand the business case for workplace psychological health, and not just in terms of the feel good factor, or being a good corporate citizen, or doing the right thing/showing commitment things but just for one landmark day. It needs to consistent and ongoing with visible support and commitment.


Part Two of "Signs of Organisational 'Psychological Ill-Health" will be released in the coming weeks, discussing further indicators of psychological ill-health, including 'Incivility Tolerance' and 'Job Creep'.


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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