Productivity strategies for businesses

Explore how strategic strategic people management and technology can boost productivity and ensure sustainable growth for businesses.

If you heard that Australia had a record surge in employment, you’d automatically expect increased productivity. Right? 

Well, shockingly, this isn’t the state of our economy. Despite an unprecedented 6.9% increase in hours worked in the financial year 2022-23, productivity across the board actually fell by 3.7%. This counterintuitive scenario, detailed in the Productivity Commission’s latest report, underscores a troubling disconnect: more Australians are working longer hours than ever, yet the nation’s overall output isn’t keeping up.

This alarming trend raises critical questions and this blog addresses how businesses and policymakers can shift from merely increasing workforce numbers to improving the efficiency and productivity of our work processes. This change sets the stage for a stronger and more sustainable economy, the nature of work and efficiency in Australia. Alex Robson, the Commission’s Deputy Chair, while assessing the statistics and trends explains, “Australians’ incomes grew in 2022-23, mostly because they worked more hours. But productivity growth is about working smarter, not working harder or longer.” This revelation is a wake-up call that challenges us to rethink our approach to workforce management and economic growth. 

The key issue here is not just the increase in labour but the effectiveness of that labour. With the labour market participation near record highs and minimal growth in wages relative to inflation, the real concern becomes evident: without genuine productivity improvements, we can’t sustain long-term wage growth or control inflation effectively. 

The disconnect between increased labour and productivity

The recent insights from the Productivity Commission are indeed troubling. The discrepancy between the increased hours worked and decreased productivity underscores a critical challenge: simply increasing labour hours does not necessarily equate to improved output or efficiency. 

The impact of insufficient investment:

A significant contributor to this productivity shortfall is the inadequate investment in capital resources necessary to support a growing workforce. The capital-to-labour ratio, a key indicator of how much is being invested in tools and equipment per worker, experienced a sharp decrease of 4.9% over the last year. This decline shows that although more people are employed, companies haven’t invested proportionately in the tools, technology and training needed to enhance productivity.  

The consequences of overlooked efficiency:

The urgency to fill job vacancies has often resulted in hiring practices that favour quantity over quality. Many of these positions are in sectors like retail and hospitality, which are typically associated with lower productivity levels. In addition, incorporating less experienced or less productive labour into the workforce without adequate support or training dilutes the overall effectiveness of the workforce.

Refocusing on quality and efficiency:

To counteract these trends, businesses must shift their focus. Rather than merely increasing headcount, they should aim to enhance the productivity of each work hour. This requires a strategic revision of resource allocation, technology integration, and employee engagement.

Investing in people and technology:

For sustainable growth, it is essential that companies increase their investments in both human capital and technological resources. Equipping employees with the appropriate tools and ensuring they have the skills and training to use these resources effectively are crucial steps. Emphasising continuous learning and adaptability is crucial to keep pace with technological advancements and evolving market demands.

Creating a culture of efficiency:

Leadership plays a crucial role in creating a workplace culture that values and actively pursues efficiency. This involves setting clear expectations, offering consistent feedback, and promoting innovation and problem-solving across all levels of the business. A culture that prioritises process and workflow optimisation can significantly boost overall productivity. 

 

The crucial role of effective people management

Understanding the disconnect between lower productivity despite an increased workforce sets the basis towards understanding the inefficiencies within Australia’s workforce. Let’s examine how strategic people management can turn these challenges into opportunities for growth. 

Effective management is a crucial factor in maximising our workforce’s potential and reversing the trend of declining productivity. Let’s look at how focused human resource strategies can transform productivity outcomes and have a positive impact on long-term economic growth. 

Identifying and addressing skill gaps:

Skill gaps in the workforce can significantly hamper productivity. Identifying these gaps through regular assessments and feedback allows businesses to pinpoint specific areas where training is needed. Implementing targeted training programs to close these gaps, both boosts individual employee performance and enhances overall business efficiency.

Strategic recruitment practices:

Recruitment practices have a big influence on productivity. By adopting a more strategic approach to hiring, businesses can ensure they attract candidates who closely fit the job requirements and the culture and ethos of the company. This involves a thorough understanding of the role’s demands and a careful evaluation of how candidates’ skills and experiences align with those needs.

Enhancing employee engagement:

Engaged employees are more likely to be productive. Strategies to increase engagement can include clear and transparent communication, recognition programs, and opportunities for career development. Ensuring that employees feel valued and understood can lead to increased satisfaction and motivation, which are crucial for maintaining productivity.

Optimising workforce management:

Effective people management isn’t just about overseeing employees; it requires a dynamic approach to managing their workloads, providing support, and encouraging a positive work environment. Techniques such as flexible working conditions, better resource allocation, and supportive leadership can help maintain high levels of productivity by creating an environment where employees can thrive.

Measuring and enhancing performance:

Regular performance reviews are essential to provide feedback and also to set future goals. Utilising performance metrics aligned with business objectives can help managers understand individual contributions to the company’s productivity. This also allows for the adjustment of strategies in real-time to address any emerging challenges.

By focusing on these areas, businesses can develop a more capable, engaged, and efficiently managed workforce, which is key to reversing the trend of declining productivity. Strategic people management not only addresses immediate productivity concerns but also builds a foundation for sustained growth and competitiveness.

Innovative work practices and technologies 

As important as effective people management is the need for businesses to embrace innovative work practices and technologies. This approach complements the strategic management of human resources and also moves businesses towards operation excellence. Here are a few examples of how companies can boost productivity and remain competitive. 

IAdopting felxible work arrangements:

Offering flexible work arrangements to employees can enhance employee satisfaction and reduce burnout, thus increasing productivity. Businesses can implement various forms of flexibility such as remote working, flexible hours and condensed workweeks. 

For example, allowing employees to choose their working hours or work from home for part of the week could improve employees’ work-life balance, decrease absenteeism and turnover rates. 

Implementing collaborative technologies: 

When considering or managing hybrid or fully remote settings, effective collaboration technologies are crucial for enhanced communication and project management within the various teams. 

For example, companies can significantly reduce time wasted on miscommunication and inefficient processes by asking their teams to use tools like Slack for communication, Asana for task management and Google Workspace for document management and collaboration.

Harnessing the power of AI and ML:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) offer powerful opportunities for automating routine tasks and optimising business processes. 

For example, businesses can make use of AI-driven chatbots to handle routine inquiries and frequently asked questions (FAQs). This allows their human staff to focus on more complex customer issues or other value-added services. 

Emphasising sustainable practices:

Incorporating sustainable practices into business operations can lead to significant efficiency improvements. 

For example, transitioning to digital documentation reduces paper use, speeds up information retrieval and cuts costs. 

Utlising analytics for better decision making: 

Data analytics help businesses to better understand their operations, customer satisfaction and overall performance. Simple, user-friendly analytics tools can help businesses measure and understand performance across various aspects of their business, from sales and marketing to customer engagement and operational efficiency.

For example, service companies can use data analytics to identify bottlenecks, thus helping them to reorganise their teams and improve customer service response times.  

These innovative work practices and technologies help businesses enhance their productivity and also align themselves with modern business standards. These strategies help create a proactive, efficient, and sustainable business environment.

 

Evaluating and adapting business strategies

To maintain productivity and drive growth, businesses must not only implement but also continuously evaluate and adapt their strategies. This approach ensures that operations meet internal objectives and are also aligned with market conditions. 

Here’s how businesses can integrate continuous strategy evaluation into their operations for sustained success.

Continuous evaluation of performance:

Regularly monitoring and assessing business strategies is essential to confirm their effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. Using real-time data analysis and performance metrics allows businesses to make informed decisions quickly. For example, using analytics to track customer engagement and sales performance can help businesses understand the impact of a new marketing strategy or product launch.

Incorporating feedback loops:

Feedback is a critical component of strategy adaptation. Establishing effective feedback mechanisms from all stakeholders – employees, customers and suppliers – helps businesses remain responsive to needs and expectations. This could be as simple as regular customer satisfaction surveys or as involved as a monthly review meeting with key clients or a digital platform for employee suggestions. These feedback loops help companies to stay connected to their community and to iterate on their services or products effectively.

The role of leadership in strategic adaption: 

Leadership is vital in navigating through strategic changes. Leaders must help create an environment where flexibility and adaptability are part of the business culture. This requires clear communication about the reasons for changes, expected outcomes, and how these adjustments align with the broader business goals. Leaders should encourage a mindset among employees that views feedback and change positively, as opportunities for personal and business growth.

Learning from real-world applications:

Drawing on real-world examples from businesses that have successfully adapted their strategies can provide valuable insights. Companies like Toyota have long been recognised for their continuous improvement processes, where constant incremental changes are made to processes and production techniques to enhance quality and efficiency. Similarly, many tech companies continuously update their software products based on user feedback to enhance functionality and user experience.

 

A call to action for a more productive future 

The data is out there, the signs are clear. Even with a bigger workforce, despite more people being hired, our productivity isn’t keeping pace. The findings from the Productivity Commission are clear – simply adding more hours or people isn’t the answer. Instead, we need to make every hour count by enhancing how we manage our teams and integrate technology.

As we’ve seen, boosting productivity involves much more than just increasing labour. It’s about smarter management, leveraging the right technology, and cultivating a workplace culture that values continual improvement and efficiency. From flexible work arrangements to adopting new tech tools, these aren’t just ideas but practical steps that any business, big or small, can start implementing to see real results.

In today’s economy, staying static isn’t an option. We need to be proactive, not just in responding to changes but in anticipating them. This means continually re-evaluating and refining our strategies to ensure they align with both our team’s needs and market dynamics.

It’s time for business leaders and policymakers to take these insights and turn them into action. The roadmap to reversing our productivity slump is clear – invest in our people, embrace technology, and keep adapting. By committing to these strategies, we can transform these challenges into opportunities for innovation and growth, ensuring a resilient and thriving future for Australian businesses.

 

Let’s not just aim to meet the standards but set new ones. Here’s to building a more efficient, dynamic, and competitive Australian economy.

If you would like to chat further about how you can increase productivity and review technology, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

Gratitude as a strength: the magic of accepting compliments

Discover how embracing praise can make a positive impact on your mental health. Learn to accept compliments and boost your self-esteem. 

Let’s play a quick game

  1. You’re out at a party and the host says “You look stunning!”

You respond with:

       A. “Oh! You must be going blind”

       B. Stop it…”

       C. “Thank you.”

 

       2. You meet your first boss and she says “You’re doing brilliantly! You’ve come a long way.”

You say:

      A. “Everyone says I’m born under a lucky star”

      B. “I have still so much to do”

      C. “I’m so glad to hear you say that. Thank you.”

 

      3. You wow everyone with a presentation at work and a colleague comments, “That was incredibly insightful! You really know your stuff.” 

You reply with:

A. “Oh, I just threw some slides together last minute.”

B. “I guess I got lucky this time.”

C. “Thanks so much! I’m glad you found it helpful.”

 

If you’ve chosen option c in all three scenarios above, congratulations! You are doing brilliantly! But most often, we women are so self-critical that accepting a compliment with grace can be surprisingly challenging. 

This seemingly small act, saying those two simple words “thank you” holds immense power, capable of transforming our mental health and boosting our self-esteem. Yet, so many of us struggle to get those words out. Instead, we opt to deflect or downplay the praise we receive. 

It’s time to explore why embracing compliments is essential for our well-being and how it can help build stronger self-acceptance and mental resilience. 

 

Why compliments feel good but can be hard to accept

Receiving a compliment can make us feel great for the whole day.

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Yet, acknowledging that compliment, accepting it with a simple “thank you’? That often feels as tough as solving a maths problem. And that’s because a lot is going on behind the scenes when someone says nice about you. 

Hearing good things about yourself should make you feel amazing. The warm, fuzzy feeling is partly due to your brain releasing a happy chemical called dopamine. This not only makes you feel great but also nudges you to keep doing whatever you do to earn that praise. 

But here’s the twist: Even though compliments are like mini cheerleaders for your self-esteem, you probably deflect them for the most part. Why? A lot has to do with how you’re raised and the mixed messages you get from all around. Societal norms dictate the need to be modest, not too proud, and always strive for more. So, when someone sends a compliment your way, it can feel like you’re suddenly put in the spotlight, and your first instinct is to step out of it.

But here’s a helpful tip – think of compliments as tiny gifts of words. They’re meant to be opened and enjoyed, not pushed away. They give you a peek at how others see you, shining a light on the good stuff you might not even notice about yourself. And isn’t it a joy to discover something positive you didn’t realise you had?

But, getting to the point where you can happily accept these word gifts takes a bit of practice. It’s about retraining your brain to understand that it’s okay to feel good about yourself and to see your own worth through others’ eyes.

You need to get comfortable with letting those positive vibes in and letting them lift you up. It’s simpler than it sounds, and with a little bit of practice, you can definitely get there.

 

Learning to accept the applause

In the words of author, Steve Goodier, “Sincere compliments cost nothing and can accomplish so much. In ANY relationship they are the applause that refreshes.” 

It’s one thing to understand that compliments are like secret boosts for your self-esteem. It’s also easy to acknowledge that accepting them can sometimes feel like trying to hug a cactus. But how do you get from awkwardly sidestepping praise to fully embracing it? It boils down to changing your mindset and practising until it feels natural.

It’s not bragging, it’s believing:

First up, let’s tackle the big myth: Accepting a compliment doesn’t mean you’re full of yourself. It means you’re starting to believe in your own worth, and that’s always a good thing. When someone says you did a great job, they’re not expecting you to disagree. They’re giving you a verbal high-five. Would you leave a high-five hanging? Probably not. So, why leave a compliment hanging in the air?

Practice makes perfect:

Like any skill, accepting compliments takes practice. Start by resisting the natural urge to downplay or deflect. The next time someone compliments you, try responding with a simple “Thank you.” That’s it. No “but” or “it was nothing” attached. Just “Thank you.” It might feel weird at first, but keep at it. Over time, it’ll start feeling more natural, and you’ll begin to see yourself in the positive light others see you.

Turn the compliment into a conversation:

If “Thank you” feels too short or inadequate, and you’re itching to say more, use the compliment as a springboard for a conversation. For example, if someone praises your presentation skills, you could say, “Thank you! I’ve been really working on them. Is there anything you think I could do even better next time?” This way, you’re accepting the compliment while staying engaged and open to growth.

Reflect on the praise:

After receiving a compliment, take a moment to reflect on it. Instead of brushing it off, think about what was said and how it makes you feel. This reflection can help reinforce your positive qualities in your own mind and gradually build your self-esteem.

Spread the love:

Getting comfortable with receiving compliments often makes you better at giving them too. When you start noticing the good in yourself, you’ll also start seeing it in others. Sharing genuine compliments can create a positive feedback loop, where everyone around you feels appreciated and valued.

Remember, you deserve it: 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you deserve the compliments you receive. They’re not flukes or mistakes. They’re reflections of your hard work, talent, and the impact you have on others. Embracing them is not just about feeling good in the moment; it’s about building a foundation of self-worth that can carry you through challenges and successes alike.

 

Embracing compliments: a step towards loving yourself

Accepting compliments gracefully isn’t only about navigating social situations with elegance; it’s an act of self-love and affirmation. It’s a declaration that you see your worth and are ready to embrace the love and respect others offer you.

Beyond the ‘thank you’:

Understanding and practising the art of accepting compliments lays the groundwork for a healthier, more positive relationship with yourself. Each “thank you” you utter is a step away from self-doubt and toward self-assurance. But the journey doesn’t stop at simply accepting kind words; you need to internalise them – letting them take root in yourself, and allowing them to grow into a sturdy, unwavering self-esteem.

The mirror of reflection: 

Think of each compliment as a mirror, reflecting back at you the qualities and strengths you possess. This mirror doesn’t lie; it simply shows you what others see – the best parts of you. Allow yourself the grace to believe in this reflection, to accept it as your truth. It’s in this belief that the true transformation begins, transforming not just how you see yourself, but how you navigate the world around you.

A ripple effect:

When you start to accept compliments with grace and gratitude, you don’t just change yourself; you also change how others interact with you. Your acceptance encourages more open and positive interactions, creating a ripple effect of goodwill and appreciation. This isn’t just about making yourself feel good; it’s about encouraging an environment where kindness, appreciation, and positive reinforcement thrive.

Final words of envouragement:

Accepting a compliment, even with “thank you” is more than about being polite – it’s a powerful affirmation of your worth. Each compliment you receive is a gift, an offering of respect and admiration. Embrace it. Cherish it. Let it remind you of your value, especially in moments of doubt.

If you find yourself struggling to accept compliments, don’t be discouraged. Like any skill, it takes practice. Start small, remind yourself of your worth, and remember that it’s okay to feel proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. You are deserving of praise, not for perfection, but for the effort, the passion, and the uniqueness you bring into this world.

 

In closing 

Your journey through this exploration of compliments is much more than about learning to say “thank you.” It’s about recognising your value, allowing yourself to be seen, and, most importantly, seeing yourself through a lens of kindness and appreciation. 

As you step out into the world, carry with you the knowledge that you are worthy of every kind word, every note of praise, and every accolade that comes your way.

May you walk forward with your head held high, your heart open, and your ears ready to accept the beautiful truths others see in you. Remember, each step you take in accepting compliments is a step towards embracing your true self – flaws and all – with love and pride.

 

If you would like to chat further about how you can empower yourself and others through gratitude, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

Beyond Physical Safety: Addressing Psychosocial Risks for a Thriving Workplace

The conversation around workplace safety has gone beyond tangible, physical risks to include mental and emotional health and well-being. We’ve recently been faced with the term ‘psychosocial hazards’ – a concept gaining ground, not just in occupational health discussions, but also in boardroom agendas across Australia. 

While traditional safety measures focus on preventing physical injuries, psychosocial hazards highlight the more subtle, yet equally detrimental, aspects of work life that can affect an individual’s health and wellbeing. 

They include a blend of both psychological and social elements in the workplace, extending from job design and work management to social interactions among colleagues. 

While these hazards might not always manifest as visible injuries, they can lead to significant stress, mental health issues and decreased productivity. And that’s crucial for businesses to understand. 

With a focus on this topic, we aim to shine a spotlight on these ‘silent stressors’, making a case for their recognition, understanding and proactive management in the workplace. 

Unpacking Psychosocial Hazards: The Categories Simplified

When we talk about workplace dangers, images of heavy machinery, electric risks, or physical strain might come to mind. However, psychosocial hazards, although less visible, can be just as harmful. 

They’re deeply intertwined with the way work is designed and managed and the interpersonal relationships within the workplace. 

To help businesses better understand these hazards, we’ve simplified them into three broader categories: 

1. Work Design and Management 

This category focuses on the tasks at hand, how they’re structured and the autonomy an employee has.

Job Demands: A balanced workload is essential for the well-being of employees. Extremes, whether too much work or too little of it, pose risks. For instance, an employee might face excessive demands during peak business seasons and then have minimal tasks during slower periods.

 An OECD study reported that on average about 13% of Australian employees work over 50 hours weekly, risking stress and fatigue. Conversely, too little work  can lead to disengagement or feelings of insignificance.

Low Job Control: Job satisfaction often depends on the control employees have over tasks. Low job control means workers can’t decide how or when they work. It’s different from having set tasks or structured job responsibilities; it’s about constantly feeling restricted.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that 38% of employees didn’t have authority over their work, which can reduce job satisfaction. Recognising and rectifying this hazard is crucial for maintaining a motivated and engaged workforce.

Lack of Role Clarity: The certainty and understanding of one’s role within an organisation are critical to effective job performance. When employees are unsure about their job description, their responsibilities, or the expectations set for them, it leads to a lack of role clarity. This isn’t just about occasionally facing complex tasks; the issue becomes hazardous when the ambiguity is extreme, consistent, or recurrent.

Inadequate Reward and Recognition: Job satisfaction is a fine balance between an employee’s efforts and the recognition they receive. This can range from awards to simple verbal praise. Overlooking recognition can become problematic if it’s a regular or long-standing issue.

Consistent employee recognition can lead to significant improvements in the workplace. Doubling the number of recognitions each week, can improve work quality by 24%, reduce absenteeism by 27%, and decrease staff turnover by 10%.

Poor Organisational Change Management: Change is inherent to organisational growth. But how that change is managed determines its success and the impact on the company’s workforce and productivity. 

A staggering 70% of change initiatives fail, often due to employee pushback and weak management. Poor organisational change management includes transitions that are haphazardly planned, communicated, supported, or executed. It isn’t about a decision that isn’t well-received. Poor change management becomes a significant psychosocial hazard when it’s notably flawed, sustained, or a regular occurrence.

 

2. Social and Organisational Context

This category focuses on the social fabric of a workplace, which plays a pivotal role in employee wellbeing.

Poor Support: Every individual relies on support systems within the workplace. These systems constitute the backbone of daily operations and overall job satisfaction. ‘Poor support’ goes beyond the inconvenience of waiting for a colleague to wrap up a meeting. It’s the persistent and profound lack of assistance from peers, supervisors, or even the deficiency of resources required for efficient job performance.

When the lack of support becomes regular, acute, or sustained, it goes from being a mere inconvenience to a notable psychosocial hazard. The consequences are many – from declining morale to reduced productivity and increased turnover.

Poor Organisational Justice: ‘Organisational justice’ really boils down to fairness at work. It’s about how employees feel they’re treated by the company, its rules, and the bosses. It’s not just about small problems, like not getting the work shift you wanted. It’s about bigger issues where workers often feel ignored, unvalued or mistreated.

Recognising and addressing these issues of organisational justice is about cultivating a culture where every employee feels integral to the success of the organisation.

Conflict or Poor Relationships: Having a good working relationship with colleagues is key to a positive workplace. But sometimes, behaviours that hurt others creep in. These can range from:

  • Violence and Aggression: Physical or verbal acts that intimidate or harm.
  • Bullying: Repeated actions that make someone feel belittled or unsafe.
  • Harassment: This includes unwanted behaviours based on gender, race, age, ability, and other personal factors.
  • General Workplace Issues: Everyday conflicts or misunderstandings that spoil relationships and teamwork. 

It’s important to understand that we’re not talking about small, isolated incidents. It’s about serious behaviours that persistently disrupt the workplace and strain professional relationships.

Violence and Aggression: This refers to situations where an individual faces abuse, threats, or physical assaults while on the job. In addition to the immediate physical harm, the psychological impact can be long-lasting and severe, posing significant health and safety concerns.

Business owners must address and manage the risks associated with violence and aggression in the workplace. This responsibility extends not just to conflicts among employees but also involves interactions with external individuals, such as customers and clients. Ensuring a safe environment for all is paramount, and businesses must be proactive in mitigating these risks.

Bullying: Would it surprise you to know that almost half of all Australians will be bullied in some way? 

Workplace bullying is characterized by ongoing, unwarranted actions aimed at an individual or a group of workers. It’s not a simple disagreement or one-off incident; it’s a consistent pattern of behaviour that can deeply affect those on the receiving end. The consequences of bullying extend beyond emotional distress; it can also lead to tangible physical harm, elevating it to a critical health and safety concern.

Businesses are obligated to identify, address, and manage the threats associated with bullying in the workplace. Every employee has the right to a safe working environment, and businesses need to step up and ensure this protection.

Harassment (including Sexual Harassment): Harassment in the workplace, whether it’s based on gender, race, age, ability, or other personal factors, is a pressing concern. It creates an environment of fear, mistrust, and discomfort, affecting not only the targeted individuals but also those around them.

Workplace sexual harassment is particularly severe and unacceptable. It can manifest in various ways: some actions are blatant, while others might be more hidden or insidious. Whether it’s a repeated pattern or a single incident, the effects are profound. Such harassment traumatizes the direct victim and can also deeply affect those who witness it.

By addressing harassment head-on and fostering a culture of respect and safety, businesses not only comply with the law but also create a healthier, more productive work environment.

 

3. Work Environment and Conditions

This category focuses on the actual conditions and environments where work is performed. 

Remote or Isolated Work: Remote or isolated work refers to jobs where employees are separated from the help or company of others due to the location, timing, or the kind of task they’re performing. This type of work might involve extensive travel, limited resources, or sparse communication options. It poses unique challenges, demanding both workers and employers to adapt and ensure safety and efficiency.

Poor Physical Environment: A poor physical environment at work refers to situations where workers consistently face unpleasant, substandard, or even dangerous situations. This could be anything from poor lighting and ventilation to exposure to harmful substances. 

When such conditions are extreme, persistent, or a regular occurrence, they transform from mere annoyances into significant psychosocial hazards. Addressing these issues is crucial for the well-being and safety of employees and their overall productivity and morale. 

Traumatic Events or Material: Being exposed to traumatic events or material at work refers to facing situations or content that deeply distress or shock. Whether it’s witnessing an unsettling incident, investigating a harrowing case, or consistently being exposed to disturbing materials, such experiences can have profound psychological impacts on workers.

Recognising and addressing the risks associated with such traumatic exposures is crucial. It safeguards the mental well-being of employees, ensuring they can work effectively and healthily.

Understanding these categories helps businesses take a holistic approach to identifying potential problems. It’s the first step in ensuring a healthier, more supportive, and productive work environment.

Why Should Busineses Care?

At its core, a business thrives on the well-being and productivity of its employees. Addressing psychosocial hazards isn’t merely about ticking off compliance boxes. It’s a strategic move towards creating a thriving, positive work environment. 

When businesses prioritise the mental and physical health of their employees, they directly boost workplace morale. This proactive approach not only curbs absenteeism but also reduces staff turnover, saving on recruitment costs and preserving organisational knowledge. 

Moreover, in an age where reputation is everything, a company known for its commitment to employee well-being stands out. It attracts top talent and earns respect in the marketplace. In essence, by addressing these risks, businesses are investing in their most valuable asset – their people.

Taking the Next Steps

Identifying psychosocial hazards is just the beginning. The true challenge lies in continuous vigilance and responsive action. Businesses should engage in regular evaluations to create a workplace that is not only safe but one that thrives. 

These assessments should be tailored to the unique dynamics of each workplace. Coupled with this, fostering open communication channels is vital. Encouraging employees to voice concerns or share experiences can unearth potential issues before they escalate. This dialogue builds trust and emphasises the organisation’s commitment to its workforce. 

Lastly, having proactive measures in place – whether it’s training programs, mental health support, or clear policies – can pre-emptively address potential risks. By taking these steps, businesses are not just averting problems; they’re sculpting a culture of care and inclusivity.

If you would like to chat further about how you can ensure psychosocial safety  in your workplace, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

Navigating Challenges, Implementing Strategies and Envisioning the Future 

In Australia, mental health is no longer an issue confined to the shadows – particularly within the corporate world. A recent study by Beyond Blue revealed some alarming statistics about mental health in the workplace. About 20% of people will experience mental health problems in any given year. Nearly 50% will experience mental health problems at some point in our lives.

As business owners and leaders, recognising the significance of mental health is paramount for sustainable success. Ignoring it can jeopardise not only your workforce’s well-being but also your company’s performance.

Mental health is becoming increasingly important in Australian business. And with good reason! It can improve resilience and productivity, and it’s a strategic priority for many companies. This article will explore the importance of mental health in the workplace and how businesses can harness its potential.

Undertsanding Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

“We need to break down the stigma around mental health and start talking about it openly.

When we do that, we can create a more supportive workplace for everyone.”

– Liz Ellis, AOM, Former Australian Netballer.

Mental health disorders are more common in the Australian workplace than you might think. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, anxiety and depression are among the most prevalent issues impacting employees. These conditions have a profound impact on an employee’s daily functioning, making it difficult to perform their job effectively.

The cost of mental health issues in the workplace extends well beyond the individual. It can also affect team dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and overall morale. This can have a negative impact on business outcomes, such as operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and bottom-line financial performance.

Business owners and leaders need to take mental health seriously. It isn’t just a personal concern, but also a strategic business consideration. By understanding the complex interplay between mental well-being and workplace dynamics, businesses can create healthier, more resilient, and ultimately more productive workplaces.

The Cost of Ignoring Mental Health in the Workplace

“Every business should realsie that the mental health of your team is just as imporntant as the bottom line.”

– Scott Farquhar, Co-founder, Atlassian.

A crucial factor often overlooked by businesses is the profound financial impact of ignoring mental health in the workplace. A 2022 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that workplace stress is the leading cause of psychological injury claims in Australia. The study found that stress-related claims cost businesses an estimated $3.8 billion per year.

While the financial implications are substantial, the societal and human costs are even more significant. Disregarding mental well-being can lead to an adverse work culture, fostering negativity and resentment, impeding creativity, and stifling innovation. Such an environment is unlikely to attract or retain the skilled talent businesses need for growth.

Conversely, companies actively investing in the mental well-being of their employees can reap considerable benefits. Beyond reducing absenteeism and healthcare costs, they can boost employee engagement, creativity, and productivity, culminating in a more resilient and adaptive workforce. This isn’t just about cultivating a caring and inclusive culture – it’s about building a sustainable business in an ever-changing corporate landscape.

Ignoring mental health just isn’t an option. The business case for mental well-being is clear and compelling. It’s time to move mental health from the periphery to the core of business strategies, for the good of our people and our businesses.

Australia’s Corporate Response to Mental Health

“A good business should be more than just profit. It should also be a force for good.”

– Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, Fortescus Metals.

There’s mounting evidence of the direct correlation between employee mental well-being and business performance. And many Australian organisations are making considerable efforts to address this pressing concern. The shift from reactive to proactive strategies reflects a commitment to employee welfare and sustainable business practices.

Proactive organisations are using strategies that include employee assistance programs, mental health training for managers and establishing a culture of open conversations around mental health. Creating a supportive work environment reduces mental health issues and fosters resilience.

A notable example is ANZ Bank, which provides mental health and wellness resources for its staff. They also run targeted programs addressing specific areas such as resilience training and stress management. Macquarie Telecom and Google Australia have also been recognised for their commitment to mental health in the workplace.

Despite these efforts, mental health strategy adoption varies across the corporate sector. Some businesses still lag in response, missing the clear message – investing in mental health isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

But this is just the beginning. The challenge is maintaining and improving mental health initiatives – not just during crises, but as an integral part of the business fabric. Mental health isn’t a tick-box exercise. It’s a transformational journey that can redefine corporate culture.

Barrier’s to Mental Health Support in the Australian Workplace

“Speaking up about mental health and getting help is so important. Yet stigma and barriers remain.”

– Libby Trickett, Olympic Gold Medallist, Swimming.

Despite the growing awareness of the significance of mental health in the workplace, several barriers hinder the effective implementation of support structures within the Australian corporate sector.

Stigma and Misunderstanding: Misconceptions about mental health conditions often result in fear, rejection, and discrimination. This can deter individuals from seeking help or disclosing their mental health issues at work.

Lack of Awareness: Many employees and employers lack a clear understanding of mental health and the signs of mental health conditions. This can lead to delayed recognition and intervention.

Limited Resources: Smaller businesses may struggle with the resources required to implement comprehensive mental health programs.

Privacy Concerns: Fear of breach of privacy can prevent employees from accessing available mental health services within their organisations.

Inadequate Training: Without proper training, managers and supervisors may struggle to recognise mental health issues among their teams. They are thus, unable to provide the appropriate support.

Overcoming these barriers requires consistent efforts to educate and inform, coupled with the commitment to creating a workplace culture that values and prioritises mental health. Businesses that succeed in breaking down these barriers will create an environment to support their most valuable asset – their people.

Strategies for Improving Workpalce Mental Health in Australia

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but bias ansd stigma and bias shame us all.”

– Bill Shorten, former Leader of the Australian Labor Party.

Addressing mental health requires strategic intervention; not just reactive measures. To effectively address this issue, businesses should implement comprehensive strategies to create a mentally healthy work environment. Here are a few approaches to consider:

Open Dialogue: Encourage conversations around mental health. Breaking the silence helps remove stigma and promotes a culture of acceptance and understanding.

Training and Education: Provide mental health training to managers and employees. An informed team can better support colleagues facing mental health challenges.

Flexible Work Options: Work-life balance plays a critical role in mental health. Offering flexible work arrangements can help reduce stress and increase job satisfaction.

Access to Resources: Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offer confidential counselling services to employees. These can be crucial in providing support to those dealing with mental health issues.

Promote Self-Care: Encourage employees to prioritise their well-being through regular exercise, adequate rest, and healthy eating.

Stay Alert: Be aware of changes in employees’ behaviour or performance that could signal mental health issues. Regular check-ins can help spot any early signs of distress.

Adopting these strategies is a step in the right direction, but the journey doesn’t end here. It’s a process of continuous improvement, ensuring mental health is always at the forefront of the company’s priorities. Remember, a mentally healthy workplace is not just beneficial, it’s essential.

The Future of Mental Health in the Australian Workspaces

“We know that mental health is not just an issue for our health system.

It is relevant in the workplace, in our communites and our homes and our schools.”

– Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia.

It’s heartening to see the growing awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace. Businesses are increasingly taking steps to support the mental health of their employees.

One of the most important trends is a shift towards a more holistic approach to employee well-being. This means businesses are not just focussing on the mental health of their employees. Their physical health, emotional health and social health are also being considered.

The use of technology to support mental health in the workplace is also increasing. There are several digital tools and platforms to help employees manage their mental health. Counselling services, mindfulness apps and social media support groups are more easily accessible.

There’s also a greater focus on prevention. Businesses are increasingly focusing on preventing mental health problems from developing in the first place. This involves providing employees with information and resources about mental health, and creating a supportive workplace culture – conducive to good mental health.

The future of mental health in Australian workplaces is also being shaped by the changing nature of work. As the workforce becomes more mobile and flexible, businesses will need to find new ways to support the mental health of their employees.

Overall, the future of mental health in Australian workplaces is positive. There’s a growing awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace, and businesses are increasingly taking steps to support the mental health of their employees. This is likely to lead to a mentally healthy, productive and engaged.

Embracing Mental Health as a Pillar of Workplace Success

While much is being done for mental health and well-being in Australian workplaces, there’s still much work to be done. Overcoming barriers and fostering a mental health-friendly environment is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment.

By embracing this challenge, businesses can create a healthier, more supportive environment, leading to increased productivity and resilience. The promising trends of proactive mental health strategies, the integration of technology, and a holistic approach to wellness signify a hopeful future.

It’s a future where mental health is no longer a taboo, but an integral part of the conversation around employee well-being. As we move forward, the emphasis should be on continued learning, sharing best practices, and a relentless commitment to mental health at work.

Remember, mental health isn’t just a health concern—it’s a business imperative, a human rights issue, and the bedrock of a thriving workplace.

 

If you would like to chat further about how you can embrace mental health as a pillar in your workplace, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

This article offers a comprehensive overview of the scheme, its impact on small businesses, and the importance of fostering a supportive work environment with access to Australia domestic violence support services.

An in-depth look at how this initiative supports employees and small businesses. 

Understanding Family and Domestic Violence Leave

Family and domestic violence is characterised by intentional harm or fear inflicted by one person in a relationship onto another. This recurring pattern of behaviour aims to control, manipulate or harm the victim. Abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, financial, or sexual, and may come from anyone in a close relationship with the victim.

In Australia, the AustralianBureau of Statistics reports that one in six women and one in sixteen men experience family and domestic violence in their lifetime. We’re all aware of the prevalence of family and domestic violence, but did you know that, in Australia, a woman is murdered by her current or former partner every 10 days? Shockingly, that’s true!

Workplaces often serve as a refuge for victims, offering safety and crucial social and financial support, as well as access to various Australia domestic violence support services.

The Importance of Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave

Stable employment is a critical factor in helping individuals escape abusive relationships. The introduction of paid leave allows victims to take time off without risking their income or employment, facilitating their exit from harmful domestic situations.

Addressing family and domestic violence also benefits employers, as it can impact an employee’s productivity due to distress or unplanned absences.

Criteria for Accessing Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave

The new scheme allows full-time, part-time and casual employees in Australia, whose employers fall under the national industrial relations system, to access 10 days of paid leave within a 12-month period.

This leave can be utilised for various purposes related to family and domestic violence, such as ensuring safety, attending court, seeking police services, or participating in appointments with professionals in counselling, medicine, finance or law.

The leave doesn’t accumulate and resets annually on the employee’s work anniversary. The new paid leave replaces the existing National Employment Standards (NES) entitlement of five days of unpaid leave. Employees can still access unpaid leave until paid leave becomes available in their workplace.

Implications for Small Businesses

The paid family and domestic violence leave applies to all small businesses under the national (Fair Work) industrial relations system, typically incorporated businesses with ‘Pty Ltd’ it ‘Ltd’ in their name. This was scheduled in two phases:

  • For businesses with over 15 employees, the leave policy became effective: February 1, 2023
  • For businesses with fewer than 15 employees, the leave policy becomes effective: August 1, 2023
  • Until August 1, 2023, employees working for national system small business employers with less than 15 employees can continue to take unpaid family and domestic violence leave. While the scheme doesn’t yet apply to employers under Western Australia’s state industrial relations system, it is anticipated to come into effect for state system employers in 2024.

Employee Entitlements Under the Scheme

Full-time and part-time employees will receive their full pay rate for the hours they would’ve worked if they were not on leave. Casual employees will be paid at their full pay rate for the hours they were scheduled to work during the leave period.

Employees may need to provide evidence, such as a statutory declaration or documentation from the police, court, or family violence support service.

Employers Can Support Affected Employees

It is crucial for employers to create a supportive and secure work environment. If an employee is suspected of experiencing family and domestic, it is essential to check on their well-being and encourage them to seek professional help. This could include Australia domestic violence support services. Employers should also make information about support services like 1800 Respect and the Employee Assistance Program readily available in the workplace for all employees to access.

Here are some practical steps employers can take to support affected employees:

  • Develop a workplace policy: Creating a clear and comprehensive policy on family and domestic violence can help foster a supportive work culture and ensure that employees are aware of their rights and available resources.
  • Provide training to the leadership team: Equip managers and supervisors with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify and respond to employees experiencing family and domestic violence. This can include understanding the signs of abuse, knowing how to address the situation sensitively, and being aware of relevant laws and support services.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements: Implementing flexible work options, such as remote work or altered hours, as possible, can provide additional support for employees dealing with family and domestic violence. This flexibility allows them to manage their personal matters while maintaining their job security.
  • Maintain confidentiality: Respect the privacy of employees by keeping their disclosures confidential and handling any information with sensitivity. Ensure that the affected employee’s contact details and work schedule are not shared without their consent.
  • Establish a support network: Encourage the formation of a workplace support network where employees have a safe space to share their experiences and help each other. This can help create a sense of community and solidarity among employees.

Potential Benefits of  the Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave Scheme

This recent implemented leave policy while benefiting family and domestic violence survivors also had a positive impact for employers and society as a whole.

For employees:

  1. Financial security: The paid leave allows employees to maintain financial stability while addressing domestic violence issues, which is crucial in helping them leave abusive situations.
  2. Reduced stress: By offering paid leave, employees can focus on seeking support and handling their personal matters without the added worry of lost income or job loss.
  3. Improved mental health: Access to paid leave can improve the mental health of employees affected by family and domestic violence. It provides an opportunity to seek professional help and work towards recovery.

For employers:

  • Increased productivity: Addressing family and domestic violence issues through paid leave can lead to more focussed and productive employees. They can better manage their personal matters without work-related stress.
  • Enhanced workplace culture: Providing support to employees experiencing domestic violence can foster a positive workplace culture, demonstrating empathy and understanding from the employer.
  • Reduced turnover: Offering paid leave for domestic violence can lead to lower employee turnover rates, as it shows a commitment to employees’ well-being and encourages loyalty.

For the community: 

  • Greater awareness: The introduction of the paid leave scheme raises awareness of family and domestic violence, encouraging open conversations and promoting the availability of support services.
  • Societal change: By acknowledging and addressing family and domestic violence through paid leave, the scheme contributes to a larger societal shift towards reducing and preventing such violence.
  • Economic benefits: Reducing the prevalence of family and domestic violence has far-reaching economic benefits, including decreased healthcare costs and increased workforce participation.

United Efforts for a Safer Society: Combating Family and Domestic Violence Together

By implementing the paid family and domestic violence leave scheme and taking proactive steps to support affected employees, Australia is making significant strides towards creating a safer, more inclusive work environment. The well-being of employees is clearly being prioritised.

Employers play a critical role in this process by fostering a supportive workplace culture, providing resources, and ensuring that survivors feel empowered and secure in their professional lives.

Together, these efforts demonstrate a strong commitment to addressing the pervasive issue of family and domestic violence. They also contribute to the broader goal of building a society where everyone can thrive without fear or harm. As we move forward, employers, employees and the community at large must continue working collaboratively to eliminate family and domestic violence. And more importantly, to support the resilience and strength of survivors.

If you would like to chat further about this Scheme, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

 

There’s no question that over time employees’ desires and demands when it comes to work have evolved and will continue to evolve as the future of work changes. This has become more apparent over the last two years.

Every individual has a different reason for working and people work because the workplace provides something they need. The challenge for organisations is whether we can keep up and give every employee what they need from work.

Employers are presented with a wide range of approaches to what employees want but are we missing the fundamental core of what retains and engages people.

  • As an employer, when it comes to attracting and retaining staff do we truly understand what each employee wants from our organisation?
  • Do we know what truly motivates each individual when it comes to work?
  • Have we adapted to everyone to ensure they feel our loyalty?

Organisations might have generous perks, social events etc. but rather than focusing on the artificial elements we need to remember that a healthy culture is the differentiator that attracts and retains great employees as well as clients and customers.

Organisational culture is important for retention

Your organisational culture is the foundation of everything your business does and also for recruiting as indicated by a recent study by Glassdoor and reported in Business News Daily:

“when searching for a new job, 77% of respondents said they would consider a company’s culture before applying.” Additionally, culture has a significant role in retaining top talent, according to Glassdoor and Business News Daily, “65% of respondents said their company’s culture was a main reason for staying.”

As indicated by these results, for many employees it’s not all about the financial incentives and perks a business may offer. People want to work with organisations that have a defined set of values, mission, vision, beliefs and goals and are renowned for being an awesome place to work.

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” Simon Sinek

Culture and onboarding new staff

Expanding your workforce can be a challenge for most business owners but at the same time, rewarding if it works out.

For effective onboarding and management of your new employee, it’s important for businesses to include aspects of culture in their onboarding program so new starters can engage and feel like part of the team even before their first day. Creating experiences which welcome them personally to participate in delivering on your organisation’s promises will have a positive effect on their productivity and wellbeing.

A survey conducted by SHRM Foundation found, after both operational and cultural onboarding, 92% of new starters felt like productive contributors to their organisation.

Ensure your new starter understands the core values of your organisation and create experiences for them to deliver on your organisation’s promises. Highlight your culture from the space they work in, to the resources they use, through to the interactions they have with others.

From the decisions you make about your new starter’s remuneration, training, cultural leadership, career development and performance management, the choices you make reflect the attitude you bring to the table. Creating an employee-centric culture will determine the quality of talent you can attract and retain for the long term.

Build your culture with effective communication

Employee engagement will only continue to increase if your people are provided clarity, certainty and a clear direction on where the organisation is headed. Effective communication underpins a positive workplace culture. Poorly executed communication can cause employees to endure an unsatisfactory work experience, leading to a whole host of problems with morale, productivity and, in some cases, customer satisfaction.

If you want to keep your people engaged and build a positive workplace culture, consider the following questions:

  • Do your employees know and understand the business goals and vision?
  • Is their work meaningful and contributes to the business goals?
  • Are there opportunities to include them more in the future planning of the business?
  • Are leaders equipped to have regular conversations with their employees and answer questions they may have on sensitive subjects such as job security, work arrangements and are we requesting feedback from them?
  • Are we providing regular communication to employees on how the business is doing and business goals?
  • Are we giving them the space and time to do their job at their full potential despite the current situations with the pandemic and other external social or environmental factors?
  • Are we recognising employees’ efforts and providing enough development opportunities?

The resources below can also help you further with effective team communication:

  • Read our article on ‘Strategies for Effective Team Communication: Why is it important?” here.
  • Grab our Team Communication Checklist, to help you build the communication channels that work best for you and your team here.

Culture in Hybrid work models

Many workplaces have seen culture shifts due to new flexible working arrangements, in particular, hybrid work models. Some of these shifts have been positive and others, with the sudden shift to remote work in 2020, have impacted even the strongest workplace cultures.

If you are planning on making flexible working arrangements permanent, leaders will need to work on strategies to build or maintain a positive workplace culture. With the right approach, a positive culture can still thrive in a hybrid work model.

It’s important to:

  • Collect and be open to receiving feedback from your employees so you can look to improve the employee experience and why someone has chosen to still work remotely.
  • Be sure to have channels for open communication and ensuring all team members are up to date with latest business decisions.
  • Change/update policy and procedures to support a hybrid work model. This will help with consistency and fairness. Some of these changes may include establishing key hours for when everyone is in the office together, to allow for some face-to-face interaction.
  • Be proactive in making sure leaders are accessible and visible and your employees feel connected and engaged with their team as well as the company purpose.
  • Continue to provide individual learning and development for each of your employees and adjust these to suit the individual’s flexible working arrangements.
  • Provide training to Managers on how to engage and facilitate in a hybrid work model.
  • Allow for opportunities for your employees to connect socially with their team and people in other areas of the business.

Maintaining culture isn’t easy. However, putting frameworks and measures in place will keep you on track to building a positive culture now and for the future.

Promote your culture internally

Being proactive and making sure you have strategies in place to effectively promote your culture internally will support you on your path to developing a positive culture.

Here are some tips to maintain and/or build your culture:

  • Effectively communicate and be clear on your mission, vision and values especially in this changing environment and make sure your people understand how they contribute to these as individuals.
  • Provide channels for open communication, feedback and opportunities for social interactions. This also means regularly communicating any relevant news about the overall business and industry and reminders of the mission, vision and values your people are working too.
  • Make sure your people have clear goals to work towards and establish policies to effectively recognise and reward them. Creating an environment where your people feel valued and rewarding positive behaviour will go a long way to maintaining a positive workplace culture.
  • Leaders/business owners need to ‘lead by example’ by showing appreciation for others and behaviour that is consistent with the values. Leaders also need to set expectations on behaviour and how people need to respectfully treat each other.
  • Prioritise employee mental health and wellbeing and promote your programs through communication channels.
  • Valuing and promoting the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce establishes a work environment that respects and includes differences, while recognising the unique contributions all individuals can make. Create opportunities where your people can connect socially through events that are chosen by employees or other ways out of the normal work routines. Establish a culture that encourages innovation and supporting your diverse teams through understanding and acceptance.

Prioritise developing your culture

A business with a focus on culture will go a long way to attracting and retaining the best and right fit talent. It has also been said many business leaders see a link between a positive culture and profitability.

Over the last two years, an organisation’s culture has truly been tested and will probably never be the same as it was before. Over time, culture has proven to help businesses through a crisis. It’s during these times where we need to look at different ways to engage our people, strengthen organisational culture and manage the uncertainty where possible.

If you would like guidance on how you can promote a positive culture internally in your business, book a free 30-minute consultation with Catie here. 

A consistent, motivating, and rewarding remuneration and incentives program is key to improving employee engagement and retention. For many people, money is not always the key motivator. Other incentives that go hand in hand with remuneration can validate your employees’ choice to work for your company. A business that recognises this will attract and retain great talent who value their role and contribution.

Why is employee engagement important?

Since 2020, businesses in every industry have experienced enormous changes. Now, two years later, we need to look at different ways to engage our people, strengthen company culture and manage any uncertainty felt by our employees.

In her Quantum Workplace article, Natalie Wickham defines employee engagement as:

‘The strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward the work they do, their teams, and their organization.’

Retention and engagement are more important than ever before – for your people and your business. Wickham goes on to define and explore 14 benefits of an engaged workforce as:

  1. Increased employee safety
  2. Better employee health
  3. Happier employees
  4. Greater employee satisfaction
  5. Better home life
  6. Lower absenteeism
  7. Higher retention
  8. Greater employee loyalty
  9. Better customer service
  10. Higher quality products and services
  11. Greater productivity
  12. Higher sales
  13. Higher profitability
  14. Higher stock price

Ways to strengthen employee engagement

Employee engagement is dependent on providing your staff with:

  • clarity
  • certainty
  • a clear direction for the company and themselves.

Consider the following questions:

  • Do your employees know and understand your business goals and vision?
  • Is their work meaningful and contributes to the business goals?
  • Are there opportunities to include your staff in future planning?
  • Are your leaders equipped to have regular conversations with their employees about job security, work arrangements and other sensitive topics?
  • Do you provide regular communication to your employees about your business performance and development?
  • Do your staff have the space and time to do their job at their full potential?
  • Do you recognise your employees’ efforts and provide suitable opportunities for development?

Once you have worked through these questions, you are well on your way to establishing the types of benefits that will improve your employee engagement and support your overall business culture.

Employee wellbeing is a primary focus of Future of Work

It is vital that the benefits you offer your employees reflect your company culture, and provide the opportunity to become more engaged and motivated.

A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) report cites that:

‘85% of workers report that their wellbeing had declined throughout the various lockdowns’

and that,

‘More than one-third of workers (37%) consider their employer the main source of mental health support.’ 

Engagement benefits must work to create:

  • Social connection
  • Safe spaces for personal needs
  • Greater workplace flexibility
  • A focus on work/life balance and overall wellbeing
  • The opportunity to develop interpersonal skills for leaders and staff

Examples of perks / benefits you can offer your employees

Praise and Celebrate

Consistently acknowledge and celebrate the effort and successes of your employees. Show them how their work contributes to the overall success of their area, and the business as a whole. A ‘thank you’ goes a long way to increasing an employee’s sense of fulfillment.

Tools / Resources

Invest in the right technology, tools, and resources to enable your team to do their job safely and successfully.

Connect and Communicate 

Now more than ever, leaders must be as transparent as possible to provide support to their people. Creating connections by opening the lines of communication for a two-way conversation, shifts the employee/employer relationship into a positive space.

Focus on Wellbeing

Develop a wellbeing culture that promotes health and wellness across all aspects of your employee’s lives – not just at work.

Include inclusive programs that help reduce stress, promote good nutrition and exercise, and support your employees’ physical, mental and spiritual health.

Simple changes to your work environment can also help to improve the engagement and health of your staff. Tess Taylor states in ‘The Balance Careers’:

‘Today’s employees are looking for the entire package when it comes to their work experience. Companies that take the time to improve the work environment with soft seating arrangements, collaborative workstations, pleasant artwork, lighting and live plants are going to find that this translates to happier employees.’

Flexibility

A workplace that creates mobile-friendly, off-site or hybrid work options, can be a great way to improve employee engagement and retention.

Parental leave may be a priority for some employees, while a competitive bonus structure may appeal to others.

The option of additional unpaid leave may assist staff members with family overseas, particularly as travel becomes possible once again.

If it is possible, providing complimentary childcare can reduce parental stress and improve happiness.

Training and Development

Learning and Professional Development is a major boost to employee engagement and productivity.

Clear career development paths and on-the-job training programs are a great way to provide your employees with growth opportunities at no cost to them.

Financial Rewards

These can be in the form of profit sharing, stock ownership, bonus or incentive programs.

A well-structured and focused Leadership and Development team will help you explore your options to determine the most suitable perks / benefits for your workplace. By using the framework of staff retention and engagement as the core principles, you can develop your internal structure and workplace environment to provide the appropriate support, remuneration and incentives to increase employee happiness, satisfaction and wellbeing in these uncertain times.

If you are looking for ways to further increase your employee engagement, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

Staff retention is one of greatest challenges we face in business today. Ineffective communication is a primary cause of employee turnover. Developing clear lines of communication throughout a business will improve employee engagement, leading to an increase in overall productivity, retention, creativity, and more effective client and supplier interactions.  

So, how do we, as leaders, successfully connect with our teams and keep them informed about our business activities through clear and purposeful communication? 

In our post-pandemic world, with so many people still working from home, it is crucial that all businesses understand how to effectively manage employee communication. Although every workplace has its unique challenges, there are important factors to consider that will help you improve communication with your team members. 

 An Informed Employee is an Engaged Employee 

When a team member understands what is going on, what is expected of them, and why, they become more:  

  • Closely involved with business updates 
  • Dedicated 
  • Loyal 
  • Productive 
  • Closely aligned with the overall strategy.  

Informed employees better understand their role within the business and are more able to execute their assigned tasks because they have access to the information they need, no matter where they are. 

Challenges to Workplace Communication 

There are many challenges to the creation and maintenance of effective written and verbal communication.  

These include:  

  • Inconsistency in communication  
  • Reliance on technology (no face-to-face communication) 
  • Assuming the audience understands the jargon 
  • Not listening to your team 
  • Not making communication a leadership function 

Consider your business – how do these five factors play out in your work environment? 

Don’t Assume that Everyone is Skillful in Communication 

Assuming that everyone in your workplace can communicate effectively is a damaging notion.  

Some leaders lack the capability to communicate well and are unable to help others express themselves. On the flipside, employees may feel awkward when they are asked to express opinions, especially in front of more senior staff. Also, some leaders simply may not have the skills to sensitively facilitate staff involvement. 

Communication Channels 

While all communication channels have their merits, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  

You will need to consider the challenges of your particular business environment and explore what works best. It may take some trial and error – so be open to feedback and review what is, and isn’t, working, then make any necessary adjustments.   

Success in communication comes from knowing how to pass on different types of information to the members of your team. 

  • Reduce the number of communication channels: Making information available in one place (if possible) makes the process more manageable for everyone. The more places your team must look, the more frustrating it can be, and the more likely they are to miss something.  
  • Consider who you are talking to and the outcome you need to achieve: If you are communicating a quick update that is relevant to everyone, a mass email or intranet post may be fine. If you are announcing a major change, you may need to use a more targeted, hands-on approach.

Again, determining what best suits the needs of your business, staff, and relevant timeframes will help you work out the most effective way to share all necessary information with your team. 

Building Connection – Team Meetings 

Every business has its own team rhythm and ways of working. A well-organised plan of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings helps to keep everyone aligned and accountable. 

  • Annual Planning Meeting (Owner and Senior Leaders): The purpose of the annual planning meeting is to align the team’s priorities for the year ahead to move the business closer to achieving their 3-5-year plan. 
  • Quarterly Meeting (Leaders): This is to determine how you will accomplish the annual plan and move the business forward. Generally held as a one-day meeting, the goal is to set up a road map for the next quarter that supports, focuses and motivates the team.  
  • Monthly Meeting (Leaders): A well-managed monthly management meeting should focus on learning, sharing and problem-solving. This provides a great opportunity to share the load and develop your upcoming business leaders in line with your succession plan. 
  • Weekly Meeting (Team): The weekly meeting keeps your team focused and accountable in execution of the priorities set out in your quarterly plan. 
  • Daily Huddle (Everyone): The daily huddle is a 5–15 minute catch up! This enables your entire team to be informed and aligned on the work that needs to be done. 

Communication through Difficult Conversations 

Difficult conversations are a normal part of life and need to be addressed in an open and constructive way. 

Many people put off uncomfortable conversations in the hope that the problem either fixes itself or disappears. This approach can have a damaging effect, particularly regarding how employees feel within their workplace. People want to feel heard, especially when they face uncertain circumstances such as created by the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Many employees have felt unsure about the direction of their workplace and worried about whether their roles will continue to exist. 

Preparation is the Key for Leaders and Managers 

Go into the meeting with a very clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. Before starting a difficult conversation, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Am I prepared? 
  • What information do I need from the employee? 
  • How do I think the employee will react?  
  • Do I have a clear understanding of the problem and outcome I want to achieve from this conversation?  
  • What solutions can I propose to resolve the matter?  
  • What would I like the employee to feel and do? 

Taking the time to prepare fully for your meeting will help you define any underlying issues and ensure your communication is clear and concise. 

It’s important to have the right communication mechanisms in place to build relationships and impart knowledge of common goals, listen and engage with team members, and to manage any issues and emerging risks. Poorly executed communication can cause employees to endure an unsatisfactory work experience, leading to a whole host of problems with morale, productivity and, in some cases, customer satisfaction. By focusing on providing the best possible communication to employees, you will ensure your team stays well informed with everything they need to perform their jobs at the highest level.  

Do you have the necessary communication strategies in place to drive and maintain team accountability and performance? Grab a copy of the checklist on ‘Team Communication’ in my HR Resources library here.

 

Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of every worker is essential. There are many things that can affect mental health, including work as it plays a significant role in our everyday life. Over time there has been a stigma around mental health illness and no more so than in the construction industry.

Now with the increased awareness, education and support services available and organisations, big and small in the industry making it a priority, this stigma is slowly being removed and more and more workers know it’s okay now to ask for help and are reaching out for the help they need.

The awareness and promotion of mental health illness needs to continue in the industry and organisations have a vital role in this. The continuation of the uncertainty in the world from the pandemic and other social and environmental factors makes mental health awareness an even greater priority.

If you are leading a team of people, in the office, remotely or on a building site, there are ways you can support and promote mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Here are some tips for you to take action:

Providing awareness, training and support

Communicating and providing awareness to your workers on why we need to discuss mental health, the problems it can cause people and warning signs to look out for if someone they know is struggling is important. Workers need to know that it’s okay to talk about mental health and seek support if they need it, who in the organisation they can go to if they need someone to talk to or how they can access the organisation’s support programs such as an employee assistance program (EAP).

Training certain individuals to be a person someone can turn to if they are in need of help is critical but also shows to all workers how serious the organisation is in supporting mental health and wellbeing. There are a number of organisations who run training sessions for people/workers who volunteer to be support person such as Mates in Construction and Beyond Blue.

Clear and consistent communication of your mental health and wellness support programs and resources and the people involved is crucial, especially on large worksites, so people know what is available to them. Promoting programs and resources through your organisation’s website or staff portal/hub, in breakout/tea rooms, email signatures, social media, when onboarding new workers, participating in charitable mental health events such as RU Ok? day, bringing in someone that is willing to share their personal experience with mental health, setting up information and training sessions and allowing workers time to attend them will create awareness of your mental health and wellness support programs.

What is an Employee Assistance program?

According to the Employee Assistance Professional Association of Australaisa (EAPAA), an EAP ‘is a work-based intervention program designed to enhance the emotional, mental and general psychological wellbeing of all employees and includes services for immediate family members.’ Having an EAP can help with early prevention and interventions of any issues related to work or personal that might be affecting a person’s ability to perform/reach their full potential at work and life in general.

Some large organisations may provide their EAP programs in-house but generally these are outsourced to a provider who have experienced counsellors, referral partners for different services that might be needed, and they understand the compliance and reporting required.

If your organisation has not created an EAP then it might be a good time to start. It’s critical with all the uncertainty around the pandemic and the effects of snap shutdowns in Victoria, reduced numbers on construction sites and increases in COVID-19 cases, workers of all ages need to be supported.

There are some critical elements that need to be considered when putting together an EAP such as the goals and needs of the EAP, if it will be outsourced, training staff, how the EAP will be communicated and tracked, development of policies, procedures and guidelines and compliance/legal and confidentiality requirements. An experienced Human Resources consultant like, Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting can help you and your team put together an EAP that is the right fit for your organisation and your onsite workers.

Not only are EAP’s there to help your workers, they can also help an organisation with less employee absenteeism reducing costs, increases in engagement and retention, to mitigate risks and health and safety concerns and improve productivity levels.

Learn to be a good listener and attuned to how your workers are really feeling

A strong leader is able to engage their people to maximise their people’s potential to be better, communicate effectively, regularly solicit feedback and new ideas and have the ability to problem solve and react quickly to the changing environment.

Whether you are managing one worksite or multiple sites or a small business owner with apprentices, being a good listener and building that human connection that develops trust and loyalty with your workers is essential for a good working relationship and for them to feel they can be open with you. It can also help you, as a leader, to gain knowledge and even new ideas.

To further encourage open communication, it’s important to consistently make time and space for each of your workers to be able to speak with you and for you to check in with them. This will help you get to know and understand their individual circumstances from both a personal and work point of view. The check ins are not only important for collecting feedback from your worker but allow for uninterrupted time to discuss any problems they might be experiencing, work in progress, professional development and performance. Having conversations like these will also help you align the needs of the team with the business.

With immense time pressures on building sites and trades, finding the time to meet with each worker during the week can be difficult. It’s important that these check ins are not rushed or continuously rescheduled.

To make the most of your one-to-one check ins:

  1. Set re-occurring check ins at a frequency that suits you, your workers and the business and limit the time to 30 minutes.
  2. Keep them as formal or casual as you like or what suits your business. However, it can be useful to structure them or have an agenda in mind to ensure what needs to be discussed is and to keep to time.
  3. Take some time before the meeting to collect your thoughts and remove any distractions so you are fully present.
  4. To encourage a flow of conversation and to ‘break the ice’, start with a non-work-related simple question to relieve any tension and to start off positive i.e. How was your weekend? If you know of an activity they like or involved in, ‘Did you play football this weekend?’ You could also start off with something around well-being ‘How are you feeling this week?’
  5. Ask questions with intent and really show you are listening and interested with what they have to say.

It is especially important leaders are communicating and checking in on their workers. At the same time, leaders also need to be checked on, as they are working extra hard to protect the wellbeing and safety of their workers and steer their business through economic uncertainty. As such, there needs to be a process or system in place to make sure leaders and the business owners are also being checked on regularly. This could be a colleague or someone outside the organisation.

The role of a leader is significant in creating a safe work environment and inspiring others to do so. Not only enforcing the legal obligations of safe work but having a workplace where their people are able to effectively do their work to their full potential. During these times of uncertainty, it’s essential to keep people well-informed of current situations and how they might be affected. This can alleviate some stress and anxiety.

If you or someone you know is suffering with their mental health, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. 

If you’re currently experiencing an increase in difficult, sensitive and overwhelming issues with your workers and need help finding an engaging approach for you or your leaders, please don’t hesitate to contact Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting today on 0409 545 634 or catie@catiepaterson.com.au.

A good education is so important in life and something that should be supported in the youth of today.

One of my goals for 2021 was to find a way I could support a young person by offering my time, skills and experience. Through a business connection, an opportunity presented to be part of a mentoring program for high school students with an organisation called Gettin’ Ready 4 Life Inc.

Greg Blake, co-founder of Gettin’ Ready 4 Life Inc., runs a school mentor program for year 12 VCAL classes at Braybrook College and next term Year 11 classes will also be included.  Volunteer mentors, like myself, are matched with two students and we meet once a week for 1.5 hours to discuss anything, but mostly their path for the future after school. As their mentor, I share information about my own experiences as well as provide them support and guidance for when they finish school at the end of the year.

These students have so much to offer, they just don’t know it yet. This program allows me to contribute to their life experience and mentor them in a constructive way so they can take positive steps forward into the world that awaits them.

A little bit about Gettin’ Ready 4 Life Inc.

Greg Blake has been a Youth Worker for two decades and a significant part of his career has been running school mentor programs. The program has run continuously at Braybrook College for 18 years, a testament to the difference it makes for students. Having the support of a mentor with life experience, willing to be there and support them, building a relationship each week that can’t be built with a parent or teacher, sees incremental shifts in a student with their confidence and motivation to achieve their goals.

What it means to me as a mentor

I was fortunate enough to have amazing opportunities growing up including attending a really good high school which included non-academic endeavours as well as study. Although, money was never abundant growing up, my parents always found a way to ensure that we had as many life experiences as possible as well as a great education. Given those privileges, I have a fundamental belief (a responsibility) that we should be able to support those who are less fortunate, to share those experiences and give them a helping hand. The Gettin’ Ready 4 Life Inc mentoring program gives me the opportunity to make a difference in a young person’s life now and in their future. Every student has something amazing to share in this world. They may just need some help to find it.

I have really enjoyed being part of the program. Both Greg and his partner Paige do amazing work supporting these students. I love Greg’s belief that ‘we are creating the runway for young people to help them ‘take off’’. Thank you to both Greg and Paige for providing me the opportunity to be involved.

Interested in being involved?

Gettin’ Ready 4 Life Inc. need more mentors for Year 11 VCAL classes starting in Term 3 on Wednesdays, from 11:20am to around 12:45pm. These students are exiting the school system this year and need all the support they can get. If you or someone you know would love to make a difference in the life of a young person, contact Greg on 0478 484 424 or Paige at runway@gr4life.org.au.

The pandemic certainly accelerated the change for businesses to adopt more flexible work arrangements. This giant world-wide experiment has led employers to see, if managed correctly, their employees can be just as productive working remotely as in the office. Employers have also found other benefits such as improved retention, attraction of talent and employees having more of a balanced work and home life.

With flexible and remote working being part of a ‘post-covid’ normal, many workplaces are putting in place a hybrid work model which allows their people to work both remotely and in the workplace on certain days. There are a range of these models emerging and being tested, especially in the technology industry such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. However, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ model and each business needs to update their policies and choose a model that fits around their employees and customer needs.

Although there are many advantages to a hybrid work model, there can be many challenges for managing teams. For some employees, they may feel disconnected, missing opportunities to understand the full picture of what is happening in the office as Managers may (not realising it) communicate with the onsite employees more often. It can also be difficult for those working remotely to build those important social relationships with their team members.

Many of these challenges can be overcome if preparation and planning is done to understand what might be the best hybrid work model and hybrid work teams are managed effectively.

Managing hybrid teams

It is essential for leaders to prepare their teams to work productively together in a hybrid work model and be proactively finding ways for the team to build positive working relationships ensuring fairness and equality for all employees. How can you do this? Here are some tips to consider when managing a hybrid work team:

– Change/update policy and procedures to support a hybrid work model. This will help with consistency and fairness.

– Agree a set of principles for how the team want to communicate with each other. The remote workers need to feel like they are being included. This might be a series of virtual meetings set up at the same time each week. There are also plenty of good communication tools such as Slack and Microsoft teams for internal group chats.

– Make sure each team member, no matter if they are in the office or working remotely, receive the same amount of support from their Manager. Offer regular one-on-one catch ups with both remote and onsite workers.

– All team members need to be clear on when each team member is working. A good way to do this is by a shared work calendar. You may also like to establish key hours for when everyone seems to be in the office together, to allow for some face-to-face interaction.

– From the start, set expectations and a process so the team know who is doing what tasks and by when. You may like to implement a weekly team meeting at the start of each week or a frequency that suits the team.

– Find ways to bring the whole team together face-to-face to allow them time to build the social relationships with their team members. This can also help increase morale.

– Ensure performance is managed fairly and measured more by the output rather than strictly by the hours someone is working. Any rewards and other benefits need to have options for remote workers.

– Make sure remote workers have access to the technology and support they need to effectively perform their role remotely.

If you are hiring new employees, you need to adjust your onboarding program to make sure it provides a positive experience for employees onsite or working from home. For example, you may choose to have a mix of onsite and offsite training or a virtual meet and greet their first day so they can meet all team members. Information and documents such as procedures and policies may also need to be able to be accessed and shared digitally.

Culture in hybrid work models

 

Many workplaces have seen culture shifts due to new flexible working arrangements, in particular, hybrid work models. Some of these shifts have been positive and others, with the sudden shift to remote work last year, have impacted even the strongest workplace cultures.

If you are planning on making flexible working arrangements permanent, leaders will need to work on strategies to build or maintain a positive workplace culture. With the right approach, a positive culture can still thrive in a hybrid work model.

It’s important to:

– Collect and be open to receiving feedback from your employees so you can look to improve the employee experience and why someone has chosen to still work remotely.

– Be sure to have channels for open communication and ensuring all team members are up to date with latest business decisions.

– Be proactive in making sure leaders are accessible and visible and your employees feel connected and engaged with their team as well as the company purpose.

– Continue to provide individual learning and development for each of your employees and adjust these to suit the individual’s flexible working arrangements.

– Provide training to Managers on how to engage and facilitate in a hybrid work model.

– Allow for opportunities for your employees to connect socially with their team and people in other areas of the business.

Maintaining culture isn’t easy. However, putting frameworks and measures in place will keep you on track to building a positive culture now and for the future.

It’s time to accept flexible working

2020 really showed businesses the possibility of offering more flexible working arrangements, where appropriate, which previously for some businesses was never going to happen.

There are so many ways businesses can make flexible work happen and there are many benefits to it. With many now facing hybrid workforces and some employees preferring to work from home, now is the time to review remote work policies with a new approach.

Are your flexible working policies up to date? At Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting, we can help you set up new flexible working policies and strategies for effectively managing hybrid work teams. Get in touch with us today!

2020 has been a year like no other with the seriousness of the pandemic causing major shutdowns of businesses, employees being stood down, schools being closed and people unable to see loved ones for months.

One of the biggest challenges and in some cases an ‘eye opener’ for businesses was having employees all working from home. For some employees the pandemic has made them realise they can efficiently perform their role easily from home without the hassles of commuting to the office. For others, their home environments haven’t been conducive to working from home and need to return to the office as quickly as possible.

Now with the Victorian Government announcing there will be a staged return to the office, businesses have the challenging task of planning the transition of their employees back to the office.

It’s understandable you may have employees feeling nervous about potentially returning. However, others might be feeling ‘zoomed fatigued,’ missing the social interactions and building relationships with their colleagues and finding it hard to ‘switch’ off from work with it right there in their living room.

The transition needs to be well planned, a gradual process making sure to follow Government capacity and density restrictions and keeping the lines of communication open with employees. Employees will need time to adjust back as the work environment will be very different to when they left it.

Here are four key areas to consider when planning to transition your staff back to the office:

Health and safety

A comprehensive COVID safe plan needs to be in place to prevent any introduction of COVID-19. This needs to include health and safety processes to respond quickly to new outbreaks/infections, protocols to identify and track employees and their contacts if there is a confirmed or suspected case, guidelines for sanitation and physical distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) required to be worn in the office space, and compliance of Government regulations and requirements. Office layout and maximum capacities for meeting rooms and lunch/breakout rooms will also need to be considered and comply with the Government regulations.

Businesses also need to consider how they will manage visitors to the office and have a process in place for employees returning to the office to provide a confirmation that they are well before entering.

Ways of working

To comply with capacity and density restrictions and to limit in-person interactions, businesses will need to evaluate the actual jobs to identify who needs to be in the office and who can continue to work from home. Businesses may need to consider staggered starting times or split times between remote and office shifts. It’s also important to have adequate systems in place to manage teams who have a mixture of people still working from home and at the office.

Team preferences

Alongside evaluating the actual jobs, businesses need to assess the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, their personal situation, transportation to and from the office and who is most at risk if there was a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Open and transparent communication

It’s important for leaders in the business to make sure they are consistently communicating about workplace changes and allow plenty of time for employees to be prepared to return to the office. Providing opportunities for open communication is vital so you can keep track of how employees are feeling about the changes and they know they can openly express any concerns or fears.

The approach to transitioning your employees will need to be well planned, gradual and there must be some allowance of flexibility as each employee’s circumstances will be different. Communication is the key in making sure everyone understands the health and safety measures and what is expected of them when entering the office.

 

Catie had the privilege to be invited to appear on ticker TV’s Black Belt Leader hosted by highly regarded expert in people leadership, Karen Gately from Corporate Dojo.

Black Belt Leader shares advice and stories to help leaders with challenging people management issues and takes a look into leadership skills great leaders need to positively influence others.

On the show we discussed:

What it takes to grow the leadership capabilities needed to inspire and influence people to be at their best.

What senior leaders need to do to support those they appoint to a management role to succeed.

Some of the biggest gaps in people management capabilities at the moment.

Are effective leaders born or can they be developed?

Ways senior leaders can support technical people to effectively step into a people management role.

Thank you, Karen and ticker, for having Catie on the show and also for the mention of the new Quick Start onboarding program launching soon!

Click the link below to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EB_Zut9-mZQ

Catie Paterson was a special guest on Shelley Flett’s ‘The Dynamic Leader’ podcast episode #31. Shelley Flett is a well-respected leadership trainer and coach, working with leaders to build high performing and efficient teams.

Passionate about supporting the next generation of leaders, Shelley has recently written a book ‘The Dynamic Leader’ which includes a model for leaders to find their own dynamic leadership style and what her podcast is focused around.

In the episode Catie and Shelley discuss two essential skills a great leader needs; empowerment and accountability. An empowered leader must feel and have control in their role so they can empower and build confidence in others around them to achieve the desired outcome. At the same time, leaders must be accountable for what they say and follow through with action.

How do you empower your team members to grow?

Thank you to Shelley Flett for having me on the podcast. 

To listen to Catie’s episode on the ‘The Dynamic Leader’ podcast, click the link below.

https://bit.ly/3ljsHac

Black Belt Leader shares advice and stories to help leaders with challenging people management issues and takes a look into leadership skills great leaders need to positively influence others.  

On the show Catie and Karen discussed: 

– What is self-awareness and why it is a critical skill of a successful leader? 

– What are the benefits of self-awareness? 

– What are the characteristics of a leader with self-awareness? 

– Why does it matter for a leader to have self-awareness?

– What happens if a leader does not exercise self-awareness and what impact does it have on the team?

– How do you develop self-awareness? 

– Simple tips for leaders to become more self-aware. 

Self-awareness is such an important skill and helps us build stronger relationships and be clearer with our decisions. 

Thank you Karen and ticker for having Catie on the show.

Click the link below to watch.

ticker full episode – to hear more about what Catie discussed on the show head to 19mins 40 seconds. https://bit.ly/36UvgZk

What a great experience to be involved in the first episode of The Better Business for Good Company TV show! 

Catie Paterson joined host, Brenda Thomson and fellow panellists, Raie Lyth and Greg Clarkson, talking all things on what businesses can do to survive and thrive post COVID-19. In this episode you will hear incredible insights from small business owners for small business owners.

Catch up on Catie’s episode now on the Better Business for Good Company website.

Thank you Brenda and The Better for Business for Good Company for having Catie on the show.

Click the link below to watch.

Here is the link to the BB4G TV full episode https://bb4g.co/bb4g-tv/

As restrictions start to ease and many businesses begin thinking about how their staff may return to the office, for some people working from home may not end when the COVID-19 pandemic does.  

Following recent conversations I’ve had with my clients, one thing that has been discussed a lot has been around productivity. Some businesses have seen significant increase in productivity when it comes to new working environments while for others technological challenges, lack of communication and routine, stress and uncertainty has led to reduction.  

It’s important to remember that during these times of uncertainty and change everyone reacts differently and not one day can be the same. For many leaders, this can mean a new way of working or even thinking a little differently to get the most out of your team on a regular basis. 

Here are three tips that might help your team to stay focused and boost productivity no matter the environment.

Focus on your long-term plans  

Over the last few months businesses and staff have been focusing on what impact situations like COVID-19 have on the short-term. When really, it’s important we shift that mindset and get people thinking about what the future looks like, where they sit and what role they will play. When employees feel a sense of purpose and feel part of a journey, they are more likely to be engaged and be in a more positive frame of mind.  

Re-connect your team  

For some teams, the dynamics might seem a little smaller or they may not have connected with each other for a long period of time. This could mean that your employees may have lost touch with each other or even what each other are working on, which can have an affect both personally and professionally.

During these times, it’s important that teams communicate on a regular basis and don’t just focus on work. People need to re-connect and start to feel part of a wider team again, no matter the size.

For example, you might want to implement a simple weekly stand up (virtual) meeting where each person talks about one thing they’re working on and one thing they did on the weekend.  

Have you set clear goals with realistic expectations? 

Over the last few months people’s expectations both from a manager’s and employees’ perspective have most likely shifted to accommodate different challenges around personal life, work life balance, home schooling etc.

As restrictions shift and kids start returning to school it’s a good opportunity to re-assess your expectations with your staff and set clear goals to help them engage and refocus their efforts, as well as understanding what you need from them.  

Just remember that not everything needs to change. Yes, you might start returning to the office soon or increasing your hours back to normal but don’t forget that during these last few months your business and your people will have adapted to new ways of working that might just be for the better.  

Embrace them and be willing to continue to change and adapt as we’re still not sure how long this pandemic will last for or whether we’re at the end. 

Leadership is an essential skill that is critical in many aspects in life, from a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or founder of a company, a project leader on a building site, an office manager, president of your local football club or on the board of your industry association.

No matter what role you are in, a good leader is one that brings about positive change, has a growth mind set to really make a difference and has the ability to inspire others to achieve the vision and goals.  

What is leadership?

Many people think of leadership as the title someone has such as the Managing Director of their company or their ‘Team leader,’ but leadership is more than just a title.

Leadership is an important interpersonal skill and the ability of someone to be able to positively influence others and direct them towards achievement of shared goals. 

A strong leader is able to engage their people to maximise their people’s potential to be better, communicate effectively, regularly solicit feedback and new ideas and have the ability to problem solve and react quickly to the changing environment.  

Leadership versus Management 

Although leadership is an important part of a manager’s role there is a significant difference between ‘leadership’ and ‘management.’ Management deals more with the administrative aspects of planning, organising, budgeting and making sure day to day tasks are being completed to achieve the business goals.

Leadership creates the vision and goals, persuades and motivates people to believe in the vision and to strive to achieve the goals. Leadership often will be involved in decisions on large scale transformations or changes such as entering a new product into a market or a merger or takeover, whereas, managers will plan and set up the business processes to enable successful transformations.

There is a difference between leadership and management but both are complementary skills and effective leaders need to be able to both lead and manage.

Core leadership skills are important when leading a team of people in an office environment.

Essential Skills for a leader in an office environment 

Strong leadership skills are valuable in today’s ever-changing environment.

Becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight and can take many years of experience, coaching and working with a mentor to hone these skills.  As we come through the other side of the pandemic, leaders are starting to plan to bring their people back to the office.

Here are some core leadership skills that are important when leading a team of people in an office environment. 

Being positive 

A positive attitude, the way you conduct and present yourself around the office will have an effect on what is expected of the team. Teams look up to the way their leaders act and conduct themselves in specific situations. A positive attitude and the ability to have a ‘laugh’ when something doesn’t quite go to plan or simple acts of acknowledging your people when you first come into the office, asking how they are or about their holiday plans can provide a happy work environment which keeps your people motivated and likely to put in the extra hours when required.  Being caring, friendly, empathetic and encouraging, can go a long way to developing a positive culture and rapport with your people.

Communication

Being able to clearly articulate what you want to achieve, from your vision, values and goals to developing positive relationships with your peers and staff and concise explanations on specific tasks, communication is one of the most important skills of a leader. Leaders are required to use all forms of nonverbal and verbal communication from speaking at large office events, public speaking, social media to one on one with peers and staff and emails. In an office environment many leaders have an ‘open door policy’ to let their staff know they are regularly available to hear any concerns and to encourage a flow of conversation between them and their staff. 

Delegate

Implementing your vision is essential for business success. Leaders who try to do this on their own will struggle and growth will be hard to come by. Being able to delegate tasks to the right people and trusting in your people to create what you visioned is a sign of an effective and strong leader.

Be honest

As a leader, demonstrating key values of open, honest and ethical behaviour no matter if you are in the office or managing a virtual team is important for building trust and respect with your people. In an office environment, people can easily pick up if someone is being dishonest through sighting of inaction and conversations. News travels fast around an office!

Safety leadership

The role of a leader is significant in creating a safe work environment and inspiring others to do so. Not only enforcing the legal obligations of safe work but having a workplace where their people are able to effectively do their work to their full potential. Leaders need to also provide a workplace free from bullying, harassment and discrimination and foster a culture of safety and innovation. 

Displaying commitment and confidence

No matter the size of the business there are always going to be good and bad days. It is a key skill for a leader to remain calm and show a level of confidence when problems arise, especially in an open office environment. If you are calm, your team will be as well, and morale will stay high.  

The benefit of being in the office is you can take some time to see and work alongside your people. Allowing them to see your commitment to your role and all the work that is being done and them understanding that what they do is an important contributor to the achievement of the overall goals, will increase their motivation and commitment to the business. This will also ‘break the ice’ and enable your people to feel that they can come to you if they have any issues or concerns. 

Be flexible

Not all decisions will go to plan and last-minute changes will happen. A skill of a leader is to be flexible, accept changes that occur and have the creative solutions to solve any problems in a timely manner. Leaders need the confidence to trust in the decisions they make as your people will look to you for guidance. Being flexible is also about being open to receiving feedback and listening to any concerns your people may have. For example, a staff member may come to you to let you know a specific issue in the office that is a concern. Your people will respect and appreciate you for taking the time to talk through the issue and your openness to making changes if required.

Leadership is a valuable skill, especially in times like these and you do not have to be in a leadership role to develop these skills. They can be learned over time through job experience, looking beyond your current role to take up more responsibility and through training and development opportunities on areas you think you need to improve on. If you have the ability to inspire people, have them invested in what you would like to achieve, have an appreciation of all the hard work your people do for you and communicate well, you will go a long way to being an exceptional leader. 

Is it possible for employees to be just as efficient at home as they can be in an office?  

As Australians continue to face unprecedented challenges due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s important that leaders implement effective communication, teamwork and collaboration to achieve the best results for their business and their staff.   

Remote working comes with a variety of challenges, not only for a business but also for its staff and leaders. For many employees, these current circumstances may have presented them with a shift in the way they work, how they balance work with family now, which they may have never experienced before.

For leaders, virtual teams can present a risk of disconnection and a lack of collaboration which may have an impact on your team’s or individuals trust and employee engagement, if not implemented correctly.

Five tips for leading and managing virtual teams

How can leaders keep their virtual teams engaged during isolation? 

With careful planning and execution, as well as ongoing team communication, leaders can ensure they are continuing to inspire and lead their teams even when they’re not in the same room or physically seeing staff every day.  

Here are five key tips leaders can follow to help their teams continue to perform effectively while working remotely: 

Set clear and tangible goals 

When it comes to working remotely, there can be a certain amount of added distractions that employees might not necessarily be use to within the office. For others, it can be a perfect environment to be more productive by setting themselves a clear structure for how they are going to plan out their day and what they want to achieve during that time. By setting clear and tangible goals, this can help keep people on track and be clear on the work that you would like delivered by a certain time in the day or week.  

Boost transparency and communication across your business  

Communication and collaboration are amongst the biggest challenges’ businesses can face when it comes to remote working. For many people they are use to being able to resolve issues or ask questions from colleagues or managers face to face in an office environment. It’s important to develop an effective communication plan in which employees are encouraged to have regular conversations and share information openly. Offering tools to employees enables them to quickly and easily engage with others which will help to increase engagement and avoid disconnection or productivity.  

Build employee engagement  

When managing a remote team a hands-off approach isn’t going to be enough. It’s imperative to help manage your team’s workload and expectations by checking in with each employee and bringing together your team on a regular basis. With the amount of technology currently available using instant communication tools such as Zoom or FaceTime are great alternative to a phone call. You could start each morning with a team check-in each morning. A short, 15 minute meeting that allows everyone to share what they’re working on and what support they might need from leaders or other members of the team to deliver specific projects.  

Be consistent and supportive 

To ensure productivity, leaders must manage remote employees effectively. Being consistent with your approach and supporting employees who may feel disconnected or even isolated during circumstances such as COVID-19 can have a huge impact. Just as people would do in an office, having an open communication policy and being accessible to help employees on a regular basis can see people thrive in environments that may be unnatural to them. Employees may be looking for answers or just need to talk with someone to help them through a difficult client or roadblock they’re having on a project. Your team will look to you for guidance and leadership more than they will look to you for management during these times.  

Model best practice  

To get the best out of your colleagues, identifying an effective virtual team leader who models the best behaviours and practices for your business can make a big impact during these times. For many, this can be very unfamiliar and present challenges they’ve never had to deal with in the office. Now more than ever, is the time to have a leadership team in place that people can turn to and feel supported as they embrace this new way of working. This will help to bring the best out people and make people feel comfortable with what could be the new way of working now and into the future.  

What does the future of work look like? 

Over the last few months, we have seen a significant change to the way we work and have had to overcome significant challenges. How businesses adapt and manage teams remotely varies considerably but embracing change and developing essential skills required to manage a virtual team is becoming even more important, especially if this could be the new way of working for a lot of businesses now and into the future.