How can employers create a sense of purpose?

Published in Human Resources Director NZ 8th November 2019.

A sense of purpose can significantly improve psychological wellbeing, said Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director, AccessEAP.

Poor mental health and a lack of purpose in work can negatively impact employees and could make them feel worse.

White Ribbon Australia closes but the important work continues

Although White Ribbon Australia have made the very difficult decision to close their doors, they have advised the following, ‘For all those who are already planning for White Ribbon Day, we encourage you to continue with those plans alongside the international White Ribbon movement. Continue to raise your voice.’ 

With White Ribbon Day at the end of November and many organisations in the midst of White Ribbon Accreditation, there is a level of uncertainty with how to proceed. Here at AccessEAP, we are currently going through the accreditation process ourselves. We will continue with our accreditation and our commitment to the process as we recognise the important work that White Ribbon was trying to accomplish. Violence against women is a pressing and prevalent issue within our society and our commitment to continue with the accreditation process stands firm. 

We are a White Ribbon approved training provider and we will continue to provide Domestic and Family Violence Awareness Training. We have received positive feedback from organisations that we have supported in achieving their accreditation and raising awareness on this matter. For organisations that are considering the accreditation process or are in the process of doing so, AccessEAP encourages all organisations to continue with their commitment in addressing and raising awareness of such an important issue. 

At AccessEAP we are sensitive to the complexities that surround Domestic and Family Violence, and our aim is to continue to support you via training and organisational consultancy. At AccessEAP our mission is to create thriving workplaces and hope that you will join us in supporting increased awareness and education involving violence against women. 

If you or your organisation needs further advice please contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

Leaders to Challenge Stigma of Mental Health

October 10th Marks World Mental Health Day

Employees with mental health issues report that that they are unlikely to tell their managers about their issues for fear of being judged. There is still a stigma around mental health is some workplaces. This fear and not speaking out creates more stress for employees and possibly impacts on absenteeism and presenteeism. While many companies are making an effort to move mental health and wellbeing to the top of the agenda, a lack of time and resources are often used as excuses for not following through.

The 10th October is World Mental Health Day and encourages us to unite in efforts to improve the mental health of people around the word and challenge the misconceptions about those experiencing mental illness.

According to research, 45% of Australians have experienced mental health issues in their lifetime[1], and while the workplace is not the main reason for people developing a mental health issue, it is definitely a contributing factor. Long hours, stressful workloads, job insecurity and lack of engagement are sometimes normalised within companies, yet they affect the mental wellbeing of employees and can lead to issues such as anxiety or depression.

“As a manager, you are in a unique position to promote positive mental health at work, explains Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director here at AccessEAP. “Given the prevalence of mental health issues in Australia, it is likely that at any given time someone in your team will either be experiencing symptoms or will be vulnerable to developing symptoms.

“There are so many ways in which you can actively challenge stigma and help a person in your team remain connected, stay productive and feel valued at work, whilst they experience mental health concerns. One simple action that organisations can take is to nominate a mental health or wellbeing ambassador, someone within the team who can have peer-to-peer conversations with colleagues about mental health issues and encourage them to seek help.”

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This simple life change will make you more productive at work

Published in Lifestyle 9th August, 2019.

“We’ve become an ‘always-on’ society and while it may seem like a win for businesses, what they gain in hours is lost in efficiency,” says Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director at AccessEAP.

“Keeping our phones and laptops within arm’s reach at all times to work at any given time has a significant impact on our mental and physical health. In this fast-paced environment, something has to give, and for many it’s sleep. We are in a dangerous cycle of not getting all of the work done because we’re sleep deprived, and not sleeping because we’re not getting all of the work done,” Marcela tells.

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Ask "R U OK?" on September 12th

Published in Safety Solutions 3rd September, 2019.

Ahead of R U OK? Day on 12 September, we at AccessEAP are advising workplaces to focus on mental health issues, to normalise and have meaningful conversations to try to identify, help and avoid potential incidences of suicide. And while the day marks the starting point of communication within the workplace, it’s imperative to consider that a long-term commitment to suicide prevention is vital and should be instilled within every workplace.

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It's Here! Women's Health Week 2019

Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week is a week dedicated to all women across Australia to make good health a priority. The two biggest barriers for women not maintaining a healthy lifestyle is ‘lack of time’ and ‘health not being a priority’. Women’s Health Week is the time to do something for your health and start making positive changes that can last a lifetime! Click the below calendar for the more information about the daily activities.

With so many competing demands and expectations, the struggle to keep up with both work and home commitments can be extremely stressful. When stress persists to a point that a person feels they aren’t coping, it can affect the functioning of their day-to-day life as well as their overall wellbeing. The stressors of too much ‘juggling’ together with trying to do things well and be ‘good’ at everything is impacting on women and their ability to sleep, think clearly and make decisions.

For more information about Women's Health and Wellbeing contact your Relationship Manager who can go through our Women's Wellbeing Training and Webinar options.

 

R U OK? Day: How can HR prepare?

Published in Human Resources Director 22nd August, 2019.

Over the course of an adult’s life, they will spend up to 4,821 days at work.

This creates an opportunity for managers and HR leaders to start a dialogue with their staff, according to Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director at AccessEAP.

Employees may be struggling to cope and employers can play a role in creating an environment of acceptance and to normalise asking for help. “Managers can ensure they are providing helpful information and the support structures which employees may need.”

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The key to being more productive at work? Sleep on it

Businesses dedicate significant funds to initiatives that drive employee performance, but one basic, yet crucial element may be overlooked, warn leading workplace psychologists. A study has shown that 39.8 per cent of Australians [1] are not getting enough sleep and that sleep deprivation is equating to productivity losses of $17.9 billion.

We’ve become an ‘always-on’ society and while it may seem like a win for businesses, what they gain in hours is lost inefficiency. Keeping our phones and laptops within arm’s reach at all times to work at any given time has a significant impact on our mental and physical health. In this fast-paced environment, something has to give, and for many it’s sleep. We are in a dangerous cycle of not getting all of the work done because we’re sleep-deprived, and not sleeping because we’re not getting all of the work done.

Lack of sleep negatively affects our ability to think clearly, learn, concentrate and retain important information, which affects efficiency in the workplace. In a recent study, employees who reported ‘almost always’ feeling tired during the day had 4.4 times more productivity loss than those who reported ‘almost never’ feeling tired [2].

Insufficient sleep also impacts our mood and emotional wellbeing. Whilst extreme lack of sleep can induce serious psychological effects such as paranoia and memory loss, more subtle consequences such as anger and impatience can also prove challenging in a professional environment. Teamwork and cooperation play an essential role in business success, so when short tempers flare, relationships between colleagues become strained. 84% of people feel more irritable as a result of poor sleep [3], and with a volatile work atmosphere, staff members can become disengaged and negative, which contribute to poor team culture and low morale.

Inadequate sleep also kills more than 3,000 Australians each year [4] due to workplace and road accidents, and the total cost of work-related injuries and fatalities as a result of poor sleep is estimated at $2.25 billion [5] per year. These risks of fatigue are more prominent in businesses where shifts are common or employees are on call, such as factories, constructions sites and hospitals. In these industries, fatigue-related errors could have serious consequences for not only the workers but others around them.

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Support Act’s Wellbeing Helpline marks first anniversary

Published in The Music Network 6th August, 2019.

Support Act Ltd’s Wellbeing Helpline celebrates its first year of operation – and with some encouraging statistics. The free, confidential phone counselling service has been used by 150 artists, road crew and music workers from all genres to talk about any aspect of their mental health or wellbeing.

“We are very happy with the take up rate, and the feedback from service users has been extremely positive,” said Clive Miller, Sydney-based CEO of Support Act. “Having a dedicated helpline that is staffed by friendly, qualified clinicians who understand the challenges of working in the music industry can be an enormous help to someone who is struggling with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction, suicidal feelings; or issues which can be mental health related such as loneliness, relationship breakdown, financial worries, illness and workplace conflict.”

The Helpline is implemented by AccessEAP.

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Defusing challenging behaviours in the education industry

Published in the Education Review 1st August, 2019.

Educators play a vital role in the community and we collectively need to support them so they can do their job. Learning the skills to respond to emotionally charged situations is crucial for today’s teachers. To tackle this, AccessEAP has designed training programs for frontline employees who may face situations where they could potentially be at risk of physical or psychological harm, to learn skills to know how to respond. 

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Our Continued Support of the H.O.P.E. Program

H.O.P.E. continues to be the main recipient of our charitable funding for vulnerable families and children. At AccessEAP we are very proud of the donation of more than $500,000 for HOPE and programs to support vulnerable families, which was announced last month. Our contribution has been able to grow substantially each year and AccessEAP would like to recognise the support of our customers in making this donation. Through partnering with AccessEAP, you not only support your employees’ wellbeing but you also directly contribute to our chosen welfare programs in Australia.

  

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

  

 

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Embracing emotion is key to leading a healthy workplace

Published in the Australian Design Review 27th June, 2019.

“Emotions and vulnerability are part of who we are and that doesn’t just go away when we enter the workplace,” explains Marcela Slepica, clinical director, Access EAP. “Opening up to colleagues and letting them know when I was feeling vulnerable, allowed me to make real connections, gain support and feel better sooner. Leaders should show compassion and support workers to do the same, simply put, leaders need to lead by example.”

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Good Behaviour Bonds - supporting our teachers

Marcela Slepica, Director of Clinical Services at AccessEAP, said that over the past five years there has been a 36% increase in the number of teachers seeking support from their counsellors.

“There are many more pressures on today’s teachers, including increasingly demanding or aggressive parents and escalating levels of classroom violence,” Slepica said. “This behaviour is unacceptable and there are severe impacts for teachers’ wellbeing when they are unsupported."

 

Click here for the excerpt from Issue 2, Vol 49 of the Independent Education, the professional journal of the Independent Education Union of Australia.

Pet-friendly offices: What you need to know

Published in Human Resources Director 19th June, 2019.

According to Marcela Slepica Director, Clinical Services at AccessEAP, “multiple studies have shown the mental, social, and physiological health benefits of owning or interacting with an animal, which causes the body to release ‘happy hormones’ serotonin and dopamine that help combat stress, depression and anxiety”.

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How to boost your workplace creativity

Published in Human Resources Director  8th May, 2019.

“Encouraging creativity has a number of beneficial effects on employees that can drive positive change in workplaces, if done well.” Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director, AccessEAP, comments on scribbling as just one way that creativity can help boost workplace performance.

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A Day in the Life of an AccessEAP Ambassador

We recently had the pleasure of delivering a Day in the Life of an AccessEAP Ambassador as part of our AccessEAP Ambassador Program Conversational Series training. Our Program Lead, Michelle Donaldson, hosted the session live from AccessEAP Melbourne and was joined by our outstanding panellists: Doug Winger and Elaine Ross, two dedicated Ambassadors from Mirvac, along with Kate McPhee, one of our Senior Psychologists. We extend a big THANK YOU to our panelists for volunteering their time and sharing valuable insights with the wider AccessEAP Ambassador community.

 

 The Panel’s top tips for peer support are:

  • Keep the conversation going.
  • Ask for help as an individual and as an AccessEAP Ambassador.
  • Promote the EAP generally and around monthly themes.
  • Reduce stigma by seeking help yourself.
  • Have appropriate conversations – time and place is important.
  • Be politely persistent.

Check out the full video below.

Does your organisation value peer support? For more information about the Ambassador Program click here or contact your Relationship Manager.

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Harnessing the Power of Positive Psychology - Team-Based Case Study Follow Up

At AccessEAP we are always looking at how we can use our individual and collective strengths to achieve the best possible customer and business outcomes. Following on from the great benefit our Relationship Management team derived from their first annual strengths assessment and with the arrival of some new team members, the process was revisited last month. 

"My team members are always striving to do better and developing and growing their knowledge and skill base with every customer interaction/engagement. I want to make sure that as a team they are recognising each other's strengths and the best ways to work together to provide the best possible customer experience," says Eleni van Delft, Accredited Strengths Coach and Director Relationship Development, at AccessEAP.

We recently received very positive feedback from our customers on our response and support to those affected by the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch. Following the event and during our internal debrief I asked our customer experience team to reflect on the strengths they used on the day of the event and in subsequent days.

They responded with :

Perseverance, leadership, bravery, perspective, teamwork, kindness, judgement (decision making) and hope. It was important for the team to have the opportunity to reflect on their strengths, identifying and acknowledging the part they played in supporting our customers through a tremendously difficult time. This was not only very insightful for each individual but also reinforced that when things happen and we can all become overwhelmed in the moment they each have the strengths and resilience they need to see things through to the best possible outcome. One team member commented, “ I now know I can handle these sorts of challenges in the future”.  

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How to develop and increase empathy to create an inclusive workplace

Published in Human Resources Director New Zealand on 30th March, 2019.

Many people believe empathy is something reserved for home and family life, but the reality is it’s vital in business too, according to Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director at AccessEAP. Empathetic leaders often display increased emotional intelligence and are better at creating a more inclusive workplace.

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Support for customers impacted by the tragic events in Christchurch

Traumatic events such as the mass shootings in Christchurch disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities. Organisations play a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting their employees and their families in the immediate aftermath and in the days, weeks and months following this tragic event.

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

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

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

The people of Christchurch have recently experienced and lived through the trauma of the earthquake. Many people are still dealing with the aftermath. This tragedy will have the potential to re-trigger feelings of trauma and loss and memories will surface. Over the coming weeks, it is important to reassure, support and connect with each other. Patience is required as everyone will feel and respond differently. People will need time, to acknowledge their responses and to process.

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

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Creating a thriving workplace this Feel Good February – Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

 At AccessEAP we love curiosity, being curious is one of our values and can really help to create a thriving workplace. This morning I received a card (like the one below) with an anonymous, personal message from one of my colleagues. Themed GLAD it highlighted four positive things about me. I must admit it not only made me feel good - it made me feel happy, proud, humble and overwhelmed – it brought a tear to my eye. It was a deeply emotional experience. Around our state offices these cards were being opened and experienced by all our people. I have included some of the reactions below and pictured are some smiling members of our Client Services Team!

This Feel Good February initiative was the work of our Wellbeing Champions. Informed by feedback from our Employee Engagement Surveys and as part of our internal wellbeing strategy we have recruited a team of Wellbeing Champions. These champions represent each of our divisions so bring a wealth of clinical, marketing, service, financial and management experience to the table. There brief is to implement initiatives which are valued and enhance the wellbeing of our people.

Each month the Wellbeing Champions work with their teams, creating initiatives to remind us to focus on our own mental health and wellbeing. Not every initiative will hit the mark and that’s OK but when they do they have a powerful, positive impact on mental health and workplace wellbeing. We will share these gems with our customers via our Wellbeing In Focus Calendar.

Initiatives such as these increase engagement and satisfaction related to recognition for work accomplishments; relationships with coworkers and supervisors. Organisations that are the best in engaging their employees achieve earnings-per-share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors. Compared with business units in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile of engagement realise substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes.1.

1.Gallup Employee Engagement Poll. These findings are based on a random sample of 30,628 full- and part-time U.S. employees working for an employer from January to June 2018.

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