AccessEAP blog

Support through the bushfire crisis

We are reaching out to our customers both impacted and threatened by the current, devastating bushfires across Australia. We know this will affect everyone differently, given the magnitude of these bushfires, it is likely that people in your organisations will be impacted in some way. Some employees may lose homes, animals and pets, some employees may be concerned for family and friends, some may be working in the area fighting fires and supporting those impacted. Our thoughts are with all emergency personnel who may well be exhausted but remain committed.

We would like to remind our customers that we are here to provide immediate phone support to any employees or managers who have questions or need support.

At this present time, we believe most organisations will be focusing on the immediate situation and needs. Survival and protection will be the main concern. We are able to assist with onsite support when the risks and threats have been contained. The following information may also be of assistance:

For individuals, see our tips and strategies (download pdf here).

As a manager, there are a few things you can do to support your employees (download pdf here):

Combatting Feelings of Festive Isolation

For many, Christmas is a joyous time, full of gift-giving and parties with friends and family. Unfortunately, for people who rely on work for social connection, the season can be far from merry.

More than 2 million Australians feel socially isolated during the festive period[1]. While loneliness isn’t a mental health problem, it can contribute to mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, which can be a significant risk factor to those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. This issue can be exacerbated by a lack of workplace relationships and the sense of purpose our jobs give us. Supportive social relationships and a sense of control which one feels at work can help make people more resilient.

The holidays can be an isolating time that some may even dread for fear of being alone. AccessEAP can provide out of hours support for employees, so it’s important for employers and managers to remind teams of this resource over the holidays.

The potential combination of stressful Christmas activities and isolation can be reduced by pausing, making plans, being mindful, and taking time to relax. The past few months have been particularly challenging for many Australian families with losses of life, animals and property due to devastating bushfires. More recently the tragic New Zealand volcano incident will leave many families grieving instead of sharing the holidays together. For these people, grief, loss and feelings of isolation will be intense and may require long term support.

Below is advice on how to take care of yourself over the festive season.

Workplaces Need to Stand Up to Australian Mental Health Crisis

A crisis in the mental health of Australia is costing the economy between $43bn to $51bn per year, according to a draft paper by the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission.

The Mental Health, Draft Report [1] revealed that beyond this alarming statistic, an approximate $130bn additional cost is created by diminished health and reduced life expectancy for the one in five Australians living with psychological conditions.

The draft highlights the complexities around defining a mentally healthy workplace but acknowledges the recognised risk factors and stressors that can impact mental health in the workplace. The role of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and the importance of investing in research and evaluating outcomes were also identified.

Workplaces must take a stance against mental ill-health. While diseases and physical conditions tend to affect older generations, mental ill-health inhibits our working lives, limiting the ability to secure and retain employment.

There are four main job-related factors that exacerbate psychological conditions, including: job demand and control, caused by a lack of control over highly cognitively and/or emotionally demanding jobs; a perceived imbalance between effort and rewards; job insecurity and exposure to trauma.

Support for customers impacted by the White Island volcano eruption

As you may be aware on Monday the 9th of December there was a volcanic eruption on White Island, New Zealand. Our thoughts are with those who are impacted, as always we are here to support your people. Following a traumatic event, it is common to experience a range of intense emotions. It’s important to be aware that everyone responds differently and everyone’s needs will be different, initially and over time. 

Organisations play a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting their employees and their families in the immediate aftermath and moving forward. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.

To support those that may have been affected by the event we have included documents for individual strategies (download pdf here) and tips as well as information for managers and leaders (download pdf here).

Should your managers need additional support as they support your employees during this time, please call the Manager Support Hotline. To arrange the Manager Support call, an appointment or onsite support please contact us on 1800 818 728 or in New Zealand 0800 327 669.

Our support and commitment are unwavering through White Ribbon changes

With the recent closure and now new ownership of White Ribbon Australia announced, I wanted to reassure our customers that nothing has changed in terms of the support and training we provide. However, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on what the White Ribbon name has come to mean for domestic violence.

It’s important to note that White Ribbon (WR) started with men taking up the challenge to do something about men’s violence against women and has continued to specifically engage men in this cause. WR explores the underlying reasons that violence against women continues to be a major social and economic issue in Australia and around the world.

This movement has a history dating back to 1981 but came into being in response to the Dec 1989 Montreal Massacre of 14 female students. WR was founded and a white ribbon chosen to represent peace as well as being a neutral colour men would be comfortable wearing. In 1992, the movement was brought to Australia by the Men Against Sexual Assualt (MASA) group. This incredibly powerful history of men and women working together to eliminate men’s violence against women must continue without pause. As leaders, we are in a position to ensure this happens.

At AccessEAP we are undergoing the accreditation process and will continue the process as we recognise the important work of the international White Ribbon movement. Regardless of what the new WR will look like violence against women is a pressing and prevalent issue within our society and our commitment to continue with the accreditation process stands firm. 

As a White Ribbon approved training provider 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 addressing and raising awareness of such an important issue. 

It’s time to change the conversation about mental health in the workplace - a comment from Sally Kirkright - CEO AccessEAP

There has been a significant increase in the number of conversations about mentally healthy workplaces in Australia in recent weeks. This is largely due to the release of the Productivity Commission’s draft report into Mental Health. As a founding member of the EAP industry in Australia, AccessEAP welcomes the recommendation that “Psychological health and safety should be given the same importance in workplace health and safety laws as physical health and safety.” This is a significant shift in how we as employers manage our workplaces but it’s a shift we have been working towards with our customers. With an estimated cost associated with mental ill health and suicide to the Australian economy between $43 and $51 billion per year, governments will take this opportunity to change policy direction. For employers, lower economic participation and lost productivity represents approximately 23% to 33% of this cost.1

The draft report’s introduction highlights the complex nature of workplace mental health but fails to recognise the function of full service EAPs.

“There is limited evidence of what actually constitutes a ‘good’ workplace or a ‘good’ job in terms of mental health, but there are a number of recognised risk factors or stressors that are specific to the workplace that can undermine the mental health of those in the workplace.”

There are no real surprises in the draft report however AccessEAP challenge the Productivity Commission’s view on the role EAP’s have to play. There is a widely held misconception that an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is merely a counselling service. That view of an EAP is outdated. Today’s EAP industry responds to the changing nature of work and provides solutions to meet the current needs of employees and workplaces. Organisational and workforce needs are evolving to remain relevant and respond to the unprecedented levels of disruption, change in workplace demographics and expectations of employees and employers. Working with organisations, we have seen the increasing sophistication of your people and the expectation of a workplace culture to support ALL your people. In partnership with our customers we co-create people solutions tailored to unique needs. Just as with individuals, no two organisations are exactly the same. The solutions require a degree of curiosity to learn the intricacies of your organisation, teams and individuals, ensure the best possible alignment between expectations and services and deliver a return on investment.

Last week Urbis and the iCare Foundation released a research report demonstrating that for every $1 invested in mental health in the workplace, $65 in social and economic benefits can be created2. We know that it makes good business sense to include human capital management as a core strategic priority and most leaders agree that a businesses success depends upon the people within it.

New podcast: suicide awareness in response to VIC legislation

Recent news on workplace manslaughter laws, introduced to Victorian state government earlier this month, raise difficult questions regarding the responsibilities and requirements of employers to proactively support mental health and safety in workplaces.

As reported in The Age “the laws will cover deaths caused by mental injuries, including trauma from bullying or other forms of abuse, sustained on the job as well as accidents and illnesses caused by unsafe workplaces. The new legislation will apply to all employers in public and private companies whose negligence resulted in a death of an employee, be that by providing a dangerous workplace or failing to provide appropriate mental support."

At AccessEAP, our customers already demonstrate a commitment to safeguard the mental health and wellbeing of their people. However, we believe this current proposed amendment to legislation will further define the responsibilities of employers in this area. We are developing resources to start a conversation with and between our customers to help understand the potential impact of the legislation and proactive approaches to implement in the workplace.

The first of these resources is now available in the form of a podcast on Suicide Awareness and Psychological Safety in the Workplace.

Support for parents of teens

Teenage years are characterised by rapid learning, risk-taking, building relationships and establishing a sense of self. Parents are often bombarded with news articles on the very real dangers of alcohol-fuelled accidents and violence, party drug experimentation and risky behaviours. Particularly at this time as teenagers come to the end of their schooling and participate in “schoolies” and Summer music festivals, parents worry about risky behaviours becoming dangerous.

As parents, it is important to keep the communication open, to talk through choices and consequences, to show understanding about risk-taking and partying. We want our kids to make choices, to not be afraid to say “no” and to call us, as parents, if they are in trouble or scared. It is important to talk to them about looking out for each other, not to leave their friends alone or with strangers.  

This stage of development is intense for our teens as they experience significant brain and hormonal changes whilst navigating external demands and influences from peers, teachers, parents, carers and of course, ever-present and unforgiving social media. We are witnessing an exponential increase in mental health issues among teens. So how can we support teens to proactively manage stress through these tumultuous times?

Good sleep

Poor sleep often accompanies stressful times. Teenagers experiencing stress might lie awake worrying at night and be too tired to function well the next day. This can set up a poor sleep pattern. The Sleep Health Foundation recommends these tips to help your child establish healthy sleeping patterns: avoid screen time an hour before bed and encourage reading or listening to relaxing music instead to help wind down; support your teen to establish and stick to a routine around bed and wake-up times; encourage them to get around 7.5 hours of sleep per night, which is the optimum amount of time for teenagers. Read more here.

It’s Time to Address Domestic Violence in the Workplace

According to research, 2.2 million Australians have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a partner, whilst 3.6 million have experienced emotional abuse from a partner[1]. As a national welfare issue, domestic and family violence not only affects the victim in their personal lives but in their professional life too.

Employers have an important role to play and need to take the issue seriously, the cost of domestic violence to the Australian workplace could rise to $9.9 billion annually by 2021/2[2]. AccessEAP acknowledges the role employers and work play in supporting women dealing with this issue. Domestic violence has very real impacts on employees and the workplace. For the victim, health and economic costs can increase and mental health can deteriorate. For organisations, this can lead to lower productivity, efficiency, staff retention rates and motivation, as well as higher absenteeism.

What’s more, some of these employees’ suffering doesn’t end once they leave the house. Victims of abuse can still be subject to unbelievable pressures when they reach the office, such as email and phone harassment, with partners trying to force them to resign or get fired. In extreme cases, they may even be targeted by their abuser at their place of work. This type of behaviour then affects the workforce as a whole, with staff exposed to the abuse in person.

Many organisations recognise it is important and relevant to have a Domestic Violence policy in place to support employees and to provide training to managers and their staff about how to respond and how to offer support. Victims should always feel that there is someone they can confidentially talk to in the workplace, yet only 20 per cent of employees feel comfortable helping a colleague who is experiencing domestic abuse[3]. Work can often become a sanctuary away from abuse and as an employer, it’s important to encourage a working environment that is safe for employees. By creating a non-judgmental space where victims feel confident to talk about their experiences, it can help raise awareness and make sure that someone is getting the help they deserve.

AccessEAP is committed to creating safe workplaces and encouraging workplace wellbeing to the forefront. We can assist organisations in developing domestic violence policies with training based on three elements; Recognise, Respond, Refer.

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.”

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,” says Marcela Slepica, our 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 continues.

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.

Support through a tragic event

Traumatic events 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 tragic events.

The immediate focus is to ensure that everyone is 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 people 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.

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 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 long term when people need support from a counsellor or their Employee Assistance Program.

Create an environment that allows people to talk amongst themselves about fears and hopes related to the tragic events. Openly sharing with others has been known to promote personal recovery. There is also comfort in a shared community supporting one another.

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. 

  

 

Financial Health Check and Tools

This helpful website, from ASIC and the Australian Government, provides calculators and tips to help you make better financial decisions. Free and impartial financial guidance and tools are available to download and use to make the path to better financial control easier. Click on the image below to watch a short "How To" video. If you would like to explore some other free and paid options, our Financial Coaching partner, IMFG suggest the following: Pocketbook, Moneysoft and  Sort Your Money Out.

Are you struggling to reduce your credit card debt? Are you sick of never being able to build up your savings enough to go on that trip you dream of or buy the home you really want?

Click here to get started. This section of the website aims to get you in control of your money to help you achieve your goals. The following topics are covered:

  • Banking
  • Budgeting
  • Donating and crowdfunding
  • Get your money on track
  • Income tax
  • Managing debts
  • Saving

  

 

Financial stress - taking positive steps

It may not be surprising that a recent HR study found 80% of the top five health concerns for employees are mental health related, 41% admit to being distracted at work because of financial worries (presenteeism), 31% of employees say they have taken unexpected time off to deal with a financial issues (absenteeism).1 The 2018 Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) report showed 18.5 per cent of consumers were overwhelmed by their credit card debt load with outstanding balances now totalling $45 billion.2 We learn to live with underlying stress around our finances but these statistics show that the impact on both life and work can be significant. What can we do individually and as employers to take positive financial steps without becoming overwhelmed?

Resilience is the ability to recover and bounce back from adversity and life’s challenges. When applied to finances it is the ability to withstand external pressures during times of financial stress. Employees must understand that these external pressures are often outside their control and in order to be resilient it means taking responsibility and having a plan in place to feel confident about their financial standing. 

Employers can play a role in helping their employees cope with financial related stress by recognising the impact it can have on individuals as they move through different life stages. It is important to recognise that there are many varied reasons for financial stress. For example, our ageing workforce is facing many challenges, including their fear of entering retirement, paying for their children’s higher education and moving their parents into nursing homes. These life events can be both mentally and physically draining as they involve the security and happiness of the people we care most about. On the other hand, millennials are facing economic instability, crushing student debt, stagnant wages and looming uncertainty about the future. Employers can assist by providing information around financial literacy as many people struggle to understand their finances and are unsure of ways to seek information. Financial knowledge and understanding is often the first very important step in this process.

How individual employees handle financial stress varies greatly. Breaking down and understanding the underlying issues can be the key to helping employees become more resilient. Here are some basic tips on reducing finance-related stress:

  1. Learn to budget

Creating a budget gives you clarity and a tangible place to start in terms of understanding where your money is going and how you can reduce spending. If your financial situation is causing you stress, it’s vital to create a budget. Record all income and expenses. Start by being critical of what you are spending and cut down on any unessential items if possible. See the article in this month’s newsletter for budgeting tools.

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.

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”.  

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.

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.