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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.

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








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








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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