AccessEAP blog

Turning to kindness

We know how easy it has become for people and teams to feel isolated, anxious, disengaged, separated, overwhelmed and drained. It can be tough to be your best in life and work in a pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, it has become easier for our thoughts to also become infected, taxing our reserves of resilience and coping. At times like these, it’s the simple things that can make the most difference. Be kind to your people leaders. They’re doing the best they can leading through unprecedented times. Be kind to your people. They’re doing the best they can to do their jobs and support your organisation. Be kind to friends, family and loved ones. Be kind to those strangers you do have a chance to interact with. Most importantly, be kind to yourselves, so that you can then be kind to others. We all feel like we’re juggling work, life and people commitments and balance these in new ways.

This week we’re turning our spotlight onto the power of kindness. Our tools are all ways to help your leaders and people to be kind, compassionate and patient with themselves and each as we all live through the pandemic. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.

The continuation of R U OK? Day conversations is a simple yet powerful of showing kindness to those around you. You don’t need to do this alone. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Exploring diversity through the pandemic

We know that one of the greatest challenges for people leaders right now is finding a pragmatic balance between meeting your people’s immediate needs and leading through the pandemic . A common human reaction during times of stress, anxiety and uncertainty is to feel isolated within ourselves. Those of us who feel more vulnerable may find themselves feeling that only those who have gone through something similar can understand. But one of the greatest strengths we as humans can share with each other is our ability to empathise and try and see things from other’s perspectives. Leaders should strive to ensure communication goes both ways by creating opportunities for teams to give feedback/share ideas. “Can we shift our perspective to find just one benefit? Together, we are here for the long haul.” The richness and diversity of our experiences, when unleashed by shifting perspectives, helped us get ‘unstuck’ and work together on finding solutions.

In dealing with our own, or our people’s responses to the pandemic one thing we’ve noticed is the sheer range of ways people have used to get through the pandemic. These coping strategies have varied greatly between people, and even within individuals as we are trying to draw on whatever might work at any given moment. What might have worked last month probably looks different this month. Even day to day, how we cope shifts.

This week we've created new Tips and Tools on Supporting your wellbeing and Exploring diversity through the pandemic. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. Following on from R U OK? Day we have also included an R U OK? Tips & Strategies resource to keep the conversation going.  

We encourage each and every one of you to take some time for your self-care. Investing in your own self-care means that you are better able to be the support someone else might need. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

 

Time to look after yourself

It’s ok not to be ok. It’s even more ok than ever to not be ok through our current pandemic. When you find yourself consistently challenged in ways you’ve never really experienced before, over an extended period of time, it’s easy to feel drained. We are in a period of time that we can say is unique for most of us as our lives change and evolve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the moment that you find yourself reading this take a pause and acknowledge that in spite of all the challenges you have done the best you can do, and that’s more than can be expected. Remember, “It’s ok not to be ok”.
 
This week we’re turning our spotlight on how we can better support ourselves through challenging times. This includes what we as leaders need to do to support ourselves so that we can support others.
 
It’s a natural human response to say to someone who is going through tough times “I understand”. We recognise that for many of us who are either in heightened physical distancing or supporting our people in that situation, that right now we empathise with you. We may not understand, but we are genuinely cheering and supporting you through these challenges. We’re here for you and will stand beside and with you. We recognise that many people are just trying to make it through the day before doing the same the next day. We also believe it’s very important to remind you that we will get through this together.

This week we've created new Tips and Tools on Self-care and Supporting your people. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.

Mental health and wellbeing is the focus for many of us, as we head into October's Mental Health Awareness Day, Week and Month, depending on your location. Reach out to here at AccessEAP. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work.

Regain your perspective

It’s almost becoming a ritual at AccessEAP that we celebrate another week that we have successfully gotten through together, for our people and for your people. We’ve taken up the challenge to shake things up, call out and celebrate the good things that are happening around us. We actively seek the wins, no matter how big or small, to share with each other. We know we can do with some feel-good news.

How often are you taking time out to reflect on how you are actually doing? Are you taking the time to acknowledge what’s been happening in your life and the lives of those around you? Can you remember the last time you acknowledged you’re doing your best to get on with your life through the challenges of COVID-19? We’d like to invite you to take the opportunity, right now as you read this to remind yourself:

“You did the best you could today and that is good enough”

Life is a series of moments, and sometimes we are not great at taking the time and space to seek a different perspective on what is happening in our lives. It can be challenging to find the time, space or create a moment of clarity where we can stop, pause and reflect. Let’s take the time, right now, and give ourselves permission to acknowledge what we’ve been experiencing in these challenging times and reward ourselves with some personal encouragement that we’ve done the best we can.

This week we’re turning our spotlight onto the positivity and power of finding new perspectives.

We’ve created two new tools, Managing perspectives and Regaining perspective. Both of our new tools provide your leaders and your people with some simple tools to help find balance in our work and lives. It’s the power of perception, and we can make a conscious choice to adopt fresh perspectives to help us get through this, admittedly longer than expected moment, together. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.

In the lead up towards R U OK? Day next month, remember that it’s not about one day of the year. We invite you to make it a part of your everyday organisational language. It is a profoundly human question to ask, and helps us as humans come together.

As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work. Contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728

 

Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas from Pexels
 

Fostering hope amongst your people

Let's celebrate another week of getting through the pandemic together. It's been tough for many of us, let's take a moment to recognise how far we've come and perhaps more importantly, how we've come together.

We wanted to congratulate our friends, colleagues and loved ones in physical distancing in Victoria for getting over the hump – you're halfway there! We're cheering and willing you across the finish line. Likewise, for those of you in Auckland, we're in this together. Last week Kate McPhee, one of our experienced Psychologists from Melbourne, spoke about evicting COVID-19 from our minds, where it's taken up a permanent residence for many of us. We think enough is enough and we want to call out that regardless of COVID-19 there are still good things happening around us. It's easy to lose sight of this and keep a balanced perspective. This week we want to ask all of you to join with us in openly talking about hope, optimism and our resilience that is helping us get through this together.

This week we're turning a spotlight on the power of positivity.

As leaders, one of the core things that we can do for people is to create a sense of safety for our people and teams. How we create this feeling of safety in our workspaces has a profound impact on how our people shift their thinking and engage with their work as well as their personal lives. Now more than ever, our people need us to create, foster and nurture psychological safety in the workspace.

We’ve created two new tools, Authenticity as a leader and Fostering Hope through COVID-19. Your Leader Tool asks us how we can be a beacon for navigating uncertainty, negativity and anxiety by talking openly about optimism, hope and positivity. Your Personal Tool asks us to reflect on what we've been through and foster hope for ourselves and others. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website.

Let's create balance in the story our people, teams and organisations are living through. For many of us, we're not great at recognising or celebrating those small moments in life that contribute to our sense of wellbeing. So we're taking up a challenge for ourselves, and invite you to join with us. Find those small moments of joy, ways that build a sense of connection with others and those rituals that help bring a smile to someone else. Call it out and openly praise it – together we can help our people move through the pandemic and create with our people, a workspace culture we are proud to be a part of.

As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work. Contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728

 

Positive coping behaviours for your people

It feels like the second wave is already upon us with everything that's happening across the region – and this week we want to acknowledge the challenges now facing our friends, colleagues and family in New Zealand. While some of us may feel like we can successfully surf the second wave, how many people are really talking about being on the second wave right now? How many of our people are just trying to get through renewed physical distancing restrictions? How many are barely keeping their head above water?

We know that people cope in various ways. Some of these coping mechanisms may look and feel very different to how we would cope. Alcohol, gambling, or even just withdrawing from connecting with other people outside of their home, are all behaviours that are both natural and normal reactions. However, these aren't necessarily healthy over a long period of time. As leaders, how should you respond to your people who are coping in different ways? How can you help your people grow through COVID-19 so they can be their best in life and work?

This week we're turning our spotlight onto support for our people to engage in positive coping behaviours.

We're asking everyone to challenge themselves to call out and name what they're feeling. Being able to name something gives us the ability to do something about what we've identified. It helps our minds being able to see things clearly, and more importantly, think about what we can do about it. Our data shows an increased predominance of feelings of tiredness, exhaustion, feeling drained or deflated and also a 'bit over it all'. We've recognised that over the past couple of weeks its been tough to be our best in life and work, as people we know, work with and care for are impacted across Australia and this week even in New Zealand.

As a result, we've decided that enough is enough and we're calling out the continual domination of COVID-19 in our thoughts, conversations and media. We feel it's time to recognise that there are different ways for people to cope, and our focus is on helping our people adopt positive, healthy, long term behaviours. Let's celebrate the fact that we are in this together, and come together to have the conversations that let us know what someone else wants from us that will help support them towards being their best through the pandemic.

We’ve created two new tools, Identifying coping behaviours and Evicting the virus from your headspace. Your Leader Tool this week calls out coping behaviours, so your leaders understand how their people are coping and ways to help them support their people. Kate McPhee, one of our experienced Psychologists from Melbourne who is living in the heart of the renewed physical distancing, has created our Personal Tool, which calls out that COVID-19 has set up camp in our minds and it's time to clean it out. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

We've seen an increase requests for support over the past five weeks, and we expect this trend to continue as this time round people know what to expect and are seeking support sooner rather than later. We'd encourage all of you to continue to find ways to be your best, and be the support and leader your people want you to be.

We are here to support you through this. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work. Contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728

 

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Checking in with your people

This past week has reminded us of the truth that change is the only constant. Our thoughts go out to everyone in Victoria as they’ve started another round of physical distancing. We hope that you feel Australia’s support as we get through COVID-19 together. One of the traits often attributed to the Australian personality and character is that we come together through hard times to support one another. Remember to reach out and connect with those of your colleagues, family or friends in Victoria, build connections and relationships as it will help them through the next six weeks.

We’ve noticed some interesting trends in our conversations over the past week and wanted to call it out. A word that has seen an increased frequency in use is ‘deflated’. We’ve noticed that many people experience feeling deflated and described themselves as feeling flat. There is certainly a sense that the recent increase in community transmission has many of us looking at Victoria and asking if, or even when, this could happen to us. How can we provide the necessary support to our people or our peers when we ourselves feel challenged? How can we build our resilience skills to help pick ourselves up or recharge our psychological batteries?

This week we’re turning our spotlight on the importance of naming and normalising the range of emotions and responses.

Supporting your people inevitably requires your leaders to ensure they continue to engage in the right sorts of conversations that will keep your people engaged and feeling supported. What are some tips and strategies you can equip your leaders and your people with? How does your organisation harness the power of positive communication to lead your people through these challenging times? How can your leaders keep things on an even keel as we continue to be challenged to adapt by COVID-19?

Within AccessEAP, we continue to emphasise the importance of investing in self-care. One of the things we always try to do is ensure that we care for our people so they can care for yours. What does this look like? Each morning in our daily Executive Leadership Team huddle, we make it a core agenda item to check in with each other. “How are you doing?” is one of the most asked questions at AccessEAP. Our people leaders make it a daily priority to check in with various members of the team. We’re seeing the benefits of this approach as our people check in on each other. It’s become more than a core part of our culture, it’s just what we do on a regular basis – and we see the benefits in our internal employee Pulse Surveys.

We’ve created two new tools, Strategies for checking in with your people and Acknowledging and neutralising negative thoughts. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

We are here to support you through this. As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work. Contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728

 

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels

Cultural Competency Training for AccessEAP

Our journey towards cultural competency. At AccessEAP we are committed to developing cultural competency across our business. For us that means providing the best possible experience for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers. By increasing our cultural awareness and knowledge of historical events impacting the nature of trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees today, we offer the opportunity to develop more culturally appropriate EAP holistic support services. In order for us to authenticate our commitment, AccessEAP is investing in the ongoing development of cultural sensitivity within our workforce by offering online Cultural Competency Training for all employees.

Arrilla Cultural Competency Training is the first step in this process aiming to empower all AccessEAP employees to gain knowledge, skills and confidence to work more effectively with Indigenous colleagues, customers, companies and communities, or while working on Indigenous projects or strategies. The training is also designed to improve understanding and the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the wider, diverse Australian community. As we all move towards Indigenous cultural competency, so too will organisations. Although we have a dedicated Culturally Competent Team with a depth and breadth of experience and knowledge we don't purport to all be overnight experts - it will take time. Together, we’ll create a better environment to help Indigenous people thrive, and we’ll enable organisations to benefit from a more productive workforce.

The training is delivered by Ms Shelley Reys AO is an Indigenous woman of the Djiribul people and a respected Indigenous specialist, strategist and service provider. After 20 years in business, Shelley stands as one of the most respected operators working in the Indigenous cultural competency arena.

She is also known for her work with the government sector, the national apology to “the stolen generations” and to the broader national reconciliation movement. Shelley was awarded the Order of Australia (AO) in June 2012 for “distinguished service to the Indigenous community, to reconciliation and social inclusion, and as an advocate for improved educational, health and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

I am very pleased that the majority of employees have completed Arrilla Cultural Competency Training as of August 2020. This the beginning of our collective journey and I look forward to providing updates on our ongoing progress.

Welcome to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Dedicated Support Line

Welcome to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Dedicated Support Line: part of your EAP, provided by your employer and delivered by AccessEAP.

Facilitating a culturally safe experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People is the purpose of this dedicated Support Line. We recognise a need to offer the opportunity to speak with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Counsellor or a Culturally Sensitive Counsellor who has experience with individual, families and community and who understand the challenges you may face. By working together we aim to find the most appropriate support for you. Referral to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services can also be arranged.

Support when you need it: 24/7 365 days.

Our Client Services Team members are available to speak with you. Please call to make an appointment between EST 8am - 6pm Monday to Friday or outside these hours for urgent requests.

At AccessEAP our Cultural Wellbeing Team includes both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counsellors and Culturally Sensitive Counsellors. If appropriate our Cultural Co-Ordinator is able to assess and understand any individual circumstances and will work with you to identify the most culturally safe options for you or your organisation.

Together we find ways to provide culturally appropriate support that works for you, sharing knowledge in a respectful, confidential and safe space. Having a chat can help with the day to day challenges at home or in the workplace such as;

Building positive psychological and emotional skills in your people

For many months we have been exceptionally conscious of our physical health. In response to COVID-19, we have modified and learnt new behaviours which have helped keep many of us safe from becoming infected, or indeed infecting others. Some of these behaviours have been to adopt physical distancing, frequent proper hand washing, use of hand sanitiser or in the case of Victoria compulsory wearing of masks. Our focus on physical wellbeing makes sense during a pandemic. These good physical hygiene habits have helped Australians avoid the scale of infections in other countries such as America. 

What are the good mental, emotional and psychological habits which we have developed alongside these new physical hygiene habits? For many leaders, we have been focused on leading through crisis and evolving our workspaces to meet the requirements of the new normal such as COVID-Safe Workplaces. As you know, we all have signs posted all around our physical workspaces reminding everyone of the importance of physical hygiene requirements. Does your workspace have signs posted everywhere with psychological, mental and emotional good habits? 

This week we’re turning our spotlight onto the critical need to promote positive psychological and emotional habits as much as we’re promoting physical habits.    

How can we equip our managers and leaders with the tools that will help them equip their people with the necessary coping skills? What are the psychological and emotional habit equivalents of handwashing and physical distancing? How can we help our managers and leaders help their people move from surviving the pandemic to thriving beyond the inevitable recovery? 

We’ve created two new tools, to provide some strategies and tips for creating, promoting and sustaining positive psychological habits. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools including this week's tools, Building positive mental and emotional skills in your people, in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

It’s also important to recognise and call out that pointing fingers and blaming others can often be a way for us to try and feel in control or to make ourselves feel better. The underlying factors shaping our behaviours during a time of crisis are often fear and anxiety. It’s important as leaders to ensure we model the kinds of behaviours we would like to see in our people and teams, as this will help support and grow your organisational culture through these challenging times.  

As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work. Contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

 

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Supporting each other through the Victorian Aged Care Outbreak

As we continue to see the impact of rising cases in Victoria and with news of increased cases in Aged Care facilities, it is understandable that many of us may be feeling a range of heightened emotions. Concern for the residents, their families, and communities, as well as concern for the employees and managers at the front line, will challenge us all.

The media attention and increased scrutiny of the rise in cases has put additional pressure and stress on those in the aged care sector.  While it is important to address systematic issues, it is unhelpful to blame or point fingers. We all need to focus on addressing the situation and support those who have been impacted. This is time to focus on our learnings, not to start pointing fingers. Caring for some of the most vulnerable people in society during a pandemic and dealing with emotional issues such as deterioration in a resident’s health can be extremely challenging. Your people may feel themselves trapped, as they try and find ways to look after themselves and their loved ones against the needs of residents and their families.

In order to support staff so they can continue to do their job, we need to remind employees and managers that there is help available.  We know that at this stage getting through each day seems like all that we can manage, but it is important for staff to know support is at their fingertips. While we may not be able to control what is happening around us. We can help ourselves and each other by reaching out for support.  Counselling can be organised conveniently over the phone so it may be possible to get the support needed right now.

During this outbreak your managers and employees may be impacted in various ways and managers may require additional support, in their roles of leading or managing employees. We know that a key protective factor in organisations to reduce psychological risk is supportive management. A manager’s wellbeing is key so that they can support others. AccessEAP has a range of services to assist staff in managing stress, building resilience and keeping mentally fit through this challenging time. For more information about the support we can provide, please speak to your Relationship Manager who can connect you with our Clinical and Organisational Development teams.

Government support

Harnessing your people’s strengths

Managing through uncertainty and crisis requires leaders to invest their time and energy in building and maintaining our people’s and our team’s resilience. We’re faced with new twists and challenges to leading in the new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to demand flexibility and adaptability by all of us. How can we help equip our people with new ways of thinking and responding in their work lives?

We think it’s important to call it out – we need to develop our ability to engage with constant change and uncertainty and turn this into a strength. Adaptability is one of the elements which underpin resilience. Helping our people learn how to cope with challenges is important. Once this platform is solid, we can help turn these coping mechanisms into coping skills, and help our people use their strengths. One of the things leaders are expected to provide in today’s working environment is creating a psychologically safe environment. What does psychological safety in the workspace, given new blended work models, look like? How can we ensure that we are helping to provide feelings of safety and stability to our people?

This week we’re turning our spotlight on helping our leaders and our people lean into their strengths. In times of crisis, we can help ourselves and those around to ‘lift our eyes to the horizon’. Normal human reactions in any crisis is to focus the attention to what’s immediately in front of us and respond to perceived threats. While this is an incredibly useful evolutionary response, we can build additional ways for our people to adopt different perspectives and behaviours by identifying their strengths and know how to lean into these.

This week we have leaned into the strengths of our wellbeing skills, to bring to the forefront our blend of clinical and positive psychology tools to assist your leaders and your people. Find our wide range of Leader Tools and Personal Tools including this week's Harnessing Strengths tools in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

As always, our people are here to help support you and your people be their best in life and work. Contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

Reinvest in your resilience

There’s an almost palpable sense of rising negative feelings about the resurgence of COVID-19 again this week. Our collective optimism that we crushed the first wave has been eroded as talk increasingly turns to the likelihood of an impending second wave and whether this is already upon us. We’re being challenged by events – how can we maintain our positive outlook on life? How are those of us who need to work really hard at being resilient coping with these constant challenges? Our data suggests that the personal impacts of living through the pandemic is increasingly challenging individual’s capacity to cope. How can we support our people to be their best in life and work?

Our resilience as Australians has been tested for over six months. Leaders need to maintain, build or reinvest in our own resilience. This can help us build the resilience of our people and teams. Some of the traits that comprise resilience are things that we can help our people learn and live in their day to day lives. As leaders, emotional intelligence and agility are two areas we have leaned into heavily through the pandemic. For our people, coping may require different sets of skills or traits.

As leaders, how can we better equip our people with the necessary skills and traits that help them cope better? How can we help them find perspective and keep as even a keel as is possible?

This week we’re turning our spotlight on resilience and particularly helping our people find ways to feel in control of their lives. COVID-19 is something that has happened to all of us. As Australians, we’ve chosen to come together to collectively try and flatten the curve. We’ve also chosen to, as much as possible, follow advice and implement new ways of living such as physical distancing. We’re making a choice to come together and do what’s necessary to try and prevent a broader second wave. Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves and each other that we’ve all been a part in making these choices.

Find our wide range of Leader Tools and our new Personal Tool - Finding and maintaining your sense of personal control in the Employer and Employee Login Areas of our website. 

Building resilience during these times can be challenging but it is something we can work on together. As always, as your EAP we are here to support your people whatever the nature of their concerns, please contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

Supporting your people through changing physical distancing restrictions

We wanted to start the conversation this week by addressing the question that is probably sitting somewhere in the minds of a lot of people – is this the start of the dreaded 'Second Wave'? Just as we were enjoying the reprieve offered from the restrictions of physical distancing, the Victorian government's response has been the reintroduction of Stage 3 restrictions for Melbourne. I'm sure our thoughts are with those who have been impacted directly or had friends and loved ones affected.

Last week we talked about the importance of language, and I must admit it is disheartening to be bombarded by media messages about the 'Ring of Steel' surrounding Melbourne. Already government messages are preparing other states such as NSW for the inevitability of heightened restrictions. It's hard in times like these to avoid feeling that we're under siege, and a constant defensive mentality is not a great way to achieve mental health and wellbeing.

This week we're putting the spotlight on supporting one another and the importance of getting the language right. As a result, we've also adopted a different approach to your support tools this week. We wanted to take the opportunity to have one of our senior clinical team members, Kate McPhee (Psychologist & Clinical Associate Coordinator) from our Melbourne office create the Personal Tool. We wanted to acknowledge the experience of those in Victoria and use their lived experience to help us better understand how to support others. Kate described some of the impacts of well-intentioned messages from friends and loved ones over the past few days as:

“We’ve had well-meaning interstate friends, family and colleagues say ‘you poor people in Melbourne having to increase physical distancing restrictions AGAIN’. Try to imagine how this makes us feel? For those of us in Melbourne remember they are intending to be supportive and its hard for them to understand, don’t take it personally and reach out to your family and friends in Victoria who do understand. In Melbourne there is a sense we understand why it has to happen, we’ve done it before and we are just trying to get on with doing our part.”

Access via our Employer Login Area - COVID-19 Supporting your people:

We are here to support you through these changes. Wherever you are located, we're in this together. As always, as your EAP we are here to support your people whatever the nature of their concerns, please contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.

Leading your people in the new normal

This past week the new normal lived up to its reputation that the only constant is change. It's important to recognise and call out the level of complexity the new normal demands of us. We are expected to safely navigate our people and organisations through an ever-changing and unclear environment where strategies can be turned on their head overnight.

The experience of those in 'lockdown' suburbs in Victoria, with more restrictions announced along with the border closure, highlights this. Our thoughts go out to those impacted with the return to or imposition of new restrictions. We'd also like to help reframe this language as use of the term lockdown is compelling, but not necessarily the most helpful. While it helps the government manage the risk of minimising or eliminating the chance of a second wave, what is the impact on people right now? We need to think about this, as there is a probability that this may happen in other cities or states and directly impact our people or their loved ones.

Media coverage of police conducting roadside testing on the borders of impacted suburbs is a very confronting situation. There is heightened fear and anxiety for those affected, more broadly in Victoria and for many of us. A few weeks ago, we spoke about the emotional wave. How can you prepare your leaders to manage the emotional waves and navigate your people, teams and organisation and help build confidence and equilibrium?

This week has highlighted the nature and challenge of ongoing risks facing our organisations and our people in the new normal. When we look back at these times once we have safely navigated through COVID-19, as we inevitably will, what will we see? What will be the standouts? How will we have grown our people and our organisations? How will we have grown as leaders?

This week we turn our spotlight on how to create some practical, sensible ways we can lead our people in the new normal.

Harnessing EAP for risk management

It’s been a sobering week, with news of rising cases in Victoria and discussion of restrictions on travel between states. It seems that our growing sense of positivity and a sense that we were getting through this has had a reality check. On top of this, there have been some high-level media coverage surrounding jobs losses, redundancies and ongoing stand down impacting many Australians. In a recent AFR article, the IMF stated the global pandemic recession is deeper than feared, and that Australia will be impacted with a likely 4.5% contraction. The good news? Australia is the only advanced economy to have its outlook upgraded, and expected to contract less than the April forecast, which predicted a 6.7% contraction.

With this in mind, we turn our spotlight on how your EAP can help assist you to manage risk and support your people and organisation through challenging times.

Together we potentially face the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. We know from our conversations with many of you the issues that are dominating your thinking and current people strategies are around managing through the new normal, navigating through COVID-19 recession and being able to come out the other side. We are also positive that we will get through this together. The success of our economy is built upon the success of business and organisations. We’re here to help you successfully navigate the business and people challenges you currently face.

We’ve previously spoken about financial security, and this is an ongoing stress for many of us. We want to highlight how your EAP strategy and support can help you manage your business and people risks. We have created additional support tools. Our Manager Tool discusses some specific elements to help proactively identify and manage risks. Our Personal Tool offers your people some suggestions on how they can be in control of managing some of their personal risks.

Access via our Employer Login Area - COVID-19 Supporting your people:

Through conversations with your dedicated Relationship Manager, we can help you plan and implement a combination of proactive strategies to proactively identify, manage and minimise your people risks and the interventions and support required for those with specific needs. Reach out to your Relationship Manager to start the conversation with our Clinical and Organisational Development teams. Our people are here to help you and your people.

The importance of clarity in uncertain times

Reflecting on the lessons learned in the last few months, our reflection inevitably turned to two things – clear communication and decision making as leaders. One of the things that stood out was how we had changed our communication style. Our language evolves in response to the physical and psychological needs of our people, and where we have been as a team on the various stages of the COVID-19 journey.

This week our spotlight is on evolving our communication to continue to meet the needs of our people as we grow increasingly accustomed to the new normal.

At AccessEAP, we’re already in a blended workplace and continue to shape the blended workspace as we get better at actually doing it. We’ve openly shared with our people that we expect this to continue for some time and are actively looking for ways to support our people so they can better support your people. 

The phrase “clear is kind, unclear is unkind” (Brene Brown) is one that we often find ourselves challenging each other with. Looking back at how we have evolved our communication and messages over the past few months, something stands out. We’ve always sought to make a clear distinction between providing clarity and providing certainty. With so many unknowns to grapple with over the past few months, and more yet to come, we openly share when there are things we are uncertain about. Our people have been included as we’ve gone on this journey together. We’ve also made sure to clearly state that there is a difference between being uncertain and not knowing.

The power in the difference between the phrase “We’re not certain but let’s find out” and “we don’t know” is one that can have a direct impact on your people’s mental health and wellbeing. Uncertainty implies that you have some ideas on what’s required and that more thinking is needed to make the right decision. This can instil confidence in your people that you are being open, transparent and honest but have several alternative options that require a decision. Everyone has a part to play, and this approach encourages individual responsibility and ownership as we engage in creating potential solutions.

Best practice for leading through crisis and change

Communicate, communicate, communicate. It's best practice for leading through crisis and change – both of which we've had plenty of over the past few months. It's time to take a moment; pause and reflect on what's happened and how we have led our people through COVID-19.

In the moment of reflection, it can become apparent just how much we have done and achieved over the past few months. It's also become apparent that information overload has taken on a whole new meaning throughout COVID-19. One of the contributors to exhaustion and stress is information overload. We've been bombarded by messaging across all platforms for some time. It's also important to recognise that communication through an extended period of crisis and change must evolve to continue to be meaningful, impactful and internalised.

This week we turn a spotlight on evolving communication for our people.

Knowing that our people may be feeling exhausted, experiencing information overload and sorting through information which has at times been unclear or uncertain, we can identify ways that we can adapt our communication approach to their needs. Now, more than ever, clear, concise and bite-sized chunks of messages are required. It's also helpful for consistency. It might help your people to think about how you can curate information or what's communicated to help this land better. There is a substantial amount of information that has been made available to your people from lots of different sources, including the state and federal governments.

Overall, trending presenting issues and requests for support confirm the effects of overload. 

Stronger together: Mental Health Awareness during COVID-19

As we prepare for a return to work or physical workspaces with physical distancing requirements being eased, the impacts on our mental health will continue for some time. It is vital to be aware that many employees, colleagues and peers may be struggling. One of the troubling impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic on mental health is the increased risk of suicide. Raising mental health awareness is one of the tools we can each use and includes understanding the risks factors for poor mental health as well as knowing the signs.

We know the factors which protect our mental health are:

  • social support and connection
  • meaningful activity
  • maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • rest and relaxation
  • a reliable source of income
  • and problem-solving skills.

Risk factors that can contribute to poor mental health:

  • an increase in drug and alcohol use
  • family history of mental illness
  • history of trauma
  • chronic or ongoing stress
  • loss of long-term relationship or person
  • social isolation not just physical isolation
  • financial stress
  • and poor physical health.

Signs that someone may be struggling:

  • dramatic changes in behaviour, mood or attitude
  • increased feelings of anxiety or depression
  • expressing thoughts of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness.

Many people find it difficult to talk about mental health with someone they are concerned about – and this is normal. It is natural for people to fear saying the wrong thing or making things worse. However, ignoring mental health issues won't make them go away. Having a conversation and expressing concern is vital.

Managing your financial stress during COVID-19

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a wide-ranging impact on all of us. It is perfectly normal to worry about our financial situation, even in the best of times, as we try and provide a good life for ourselves and our loved ones. With so much uncertainty across several industries and employers, financially related stress may become overwhelming.

Financial worry is normal. Financial security, job security and a steady income are important basic things we require to provide for our loved ones, to feel safe and secure. Financial security supports our wellbeing, such as leisure time and activities. The loss of that security creates uncertainty and anxiety. If we are not careful to manage our thoughts and emotions, financial stress can dominate our thoughts 24/7 and impact on our health and wellbeing. The way we view our financial situation can shape our thoughts and feelings and harm relationships.

Some signs that financial stress is affecting your health and relationships include:

  • arguing with your partner or family about money
  • difficulty sleeping or relaxing
  • feeling angry or fearful
  • mood swings
  • tiredness
  • muscle pain
  • loss of appetite
  • withdrawing from interaction with others.

Financial stress can affect your health in many ways:

  • poor physical health
  • delaying accessing healthcare
  • poor mental health 
  • unhealthy coping behaviours.

Seeking help to fully understand your financial position and the options available to you is the first step in getting back in control of your finances and improving your mental and physical health. AccessEAP offers specialist Financial Coaching in addition to EAP counselling. For more information, Manager and Personal Tools can be accessed here or call 1800 818 728 to book an appointment.