Arts Centre Melbourne, Workplace of Excellence in Providing Mental Health Support

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In February 2017, Arts Centre Melbourne launched an industry-wide initiative aimed at improving the mental health of Victorian performing arts workers.

The pilot program, called the Arts Wellbeing Collective, provides resources to help organisations better support the mental health of their workers, focussing on both prevention and intervention.

A 2016 report commissioned by Entertainment Assist and conducted by Victoria University found workers in the Australian entertainment industry were five times more likely to have symptoms of depression and ten times more likely to have moderate to severe anxiety.

Claire Spencer, CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne

Claire Spencer, CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne

 

Claire Spencer, CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne, said the initiative started at Arts Centre Melbourne as a way to care for its own employees.

“Our aim is to care for our people. One of our founding values is to ‘care more’ – to go well beyond the bare minimum,” she said.

Once the initiative was launched, Spencer said she was overwhelmed at the positive response from employees and the industry.

“There was a sense of pride that Arts Centre Melbourne was stepping up to lead and acknowledging up front that we know that there are issues and they aren’t easy to solve,” she said. 

“It was a very levelling experience. There was a sense of collegiality and that this is an industry that has unique challenges and an industry-wide approach is appropriate.”

The Arts Wellbeing Collective holds workshops developed with psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg and provisional psychologist and soprano, Greta Bradman on strengthening work relationships, creative people management and living well for those in the performing arts.

The Collective also offers mental health first aid courses which teaches employees to recognise symptoms of mental health issues, how to provide initial help and how to act in a crisis.

The Arts Wellbeing Collective is also creating an opportunity within the industry to alleviate the stigma of mental health.

“It’s already changing the conversation that it’s okay and to reach out and seek help,” Spencer said.

“There needs to be a boldness to try and find a way to solve this problem.”

Part of the success of the initiative has been its custom fit for the industry. Currently in development is a tour management kit that addresses key challenges of workers who travel for extended periods of time for tours or short festivals. Challenges include eating healthy, getting adequate sleep, taking regular breaks and managing extreme emotional highs and lows.

On an emotional and mental level, workers deal with an array of issues including having their sense of identity tied with their work. Performers deal with the difficulty of “coming out” of performances of dysfunctional characters like murderers or alcoholics which they may have to play for six to seven months.

All support services are also extended to the immediate family members of employees.


DID YOU KNOW?

High performing employees are more likely to have missed work in the past year because of stress, depression or anxiety? (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace).


Starlight Children’s Foundation, Workplace of Excellence in Delivering Purpose and Meaning

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Effective organisations start with a purpose, and for Starlight Children’s Foundation, their mission has been to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families.

Active in Australian hospitals since 1988, the Foundation offers a combination of in and out of hospital programs to provide positive distractions for sick kids.

In 2010, after the Global Financial Crisis the Starlight Children’s Foundation wanted to re-ignite passion for their mission in their team members.

Susan Henry, Head of People and Culture

Susan Henry, Head of People and Culture

 

Susan Henry, Head of People and Culture at Starlight said the Get Connected program aimed to do just that.

“We want everyone to feel they have purpose and meaning in their work and the best way to do this is through experiencing the impact of our programs firsthand,” she said.

The whole of workplace program requires all employees – including the executive team to work in a Starlight program once every quarter or four times every year.

Employees have the option of participating in one of four programs:

  1. Captain Starlight – working alongside a professional performer to provide positive distractions for young children in hospital.
  2. Livewire – working with teens in hospitals in workshops for art, music making, coding and more.
  3. Livewire.org.au – working on the other end of a live website chat to provide support to sick teens.
  4. Wishgranting – helping grant a wish for a sick kid. Examples include accompanying their family to a theme park or meeting a celebrity.

Ms Henry said the program was effective because it showed team members their work was contributing to a valuable purpose.

“Employees understand the difference they can make to Starlight’s mission through their professional skills,” she said.

“If they understand Starlight’s mission, and the role they play in delivering it, they are more likely to be engaged to be excited to come to work each day.

“People absolutely love to Get Connected and they really come back with a spring in their step.”

A personal “Starlight Story” is shared at the start of each monthly team meeting by CEO, Louise Baxter.

So far, Get Connected has had a positive influence on employee turnover, trust and creating pride and advocacy, with each employee acting as an unofficial ambassador in the community with their Starlight Story.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation works in every paediatric hospital in Australia in Starlight Express Rooms, which are medical free zones used to facilitate their programs.

Recently, the Starlight Children’s Foundation was listed as a Great Place to Work in 2017.


DID YOU KNOW?

77 per cent of millennials are looking for purpose and meaning in their work? (Delivering Purpose and Meaning).


Australia Post, Workplace of Excellence in Communicating Change

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An important factor in managing organisational change is how it is communicated. Information about change moves through an organisation in uncontrolled ways. The perception of being “kept in the dark” can lead to uncertainty and distrust, even more so in hierarchical structures where employees begin to ask “who knows what?”

Government owned organisation, Australia Post faced significant changes; the business strategy was changing in response to shifts in the market – the volume of letters being delivered was decreasing and the number of parcel deliveries from online shopping was increasing. E-commerce partnerships with businesses emerged as a new frontier.

Lauren Trethowan, Head of Culture, Australia Post

Lauren Trethowan, Head of Culture, Australia Post

 

“Technology has fundamentally changed how we connect in every way,” Lauren Trethowan, Head of Culture at Australia Post said.

“More than ever, people are shopping and transacting online, expect more convenient delivery services and want access to other services to make their busy lives easier.

“This all means our customers’ expectations are evolving – and Australia Post needs to evolve too, in order to meet their changing needs.”

In mid-2015, Australia Post experimented with a new approach to disseminating the new organisational values and strategy with The Grapevine, a two-day initiative aimed at discussing changes from digital disruption and what it meant for employees.

The Grapevine program was held at 14 major locations across Australia, each session bringing 100-120 “influential employees” to talk about the changes brought by digital disruption and what it meant for them.

“We know that those who influence our culture work at all levels of the company, from those in our frontline and operational facilities through to senior management. At The Grapevine participants have the opportunity to participate in a two-way conversation with colleagues from right across the company, they share stories, and discuss what the strategy practically means for them in their role”.

The environment for the program was informal and relaxed by design, giving employees the chance to talk directly with senior management.

“We paid careful attention to how the space was designed (language, location, lighting, colour, process) to maximize learning and change the way we have conversations. We were also very conscious of removing hierarchy, so we removed role titles from name tags.”

Employees also heard from their customers, which Ms Trethowan said helped build a sense of purpose and meaning to their everyday activities.

“It was great to hear customer stories rather than just talk about the customer as a number or NPS score” she said. 

“It was really effective in reminding our employees that a parcel is not just a parcel—it’s a birthday present or that dress you’ve been saving for all month.

“Leaders spoke openly about what the organisational values mean to them and which values they live confidently and which values fade for them under pressure. This provided permission for employees to then share their own personal stories linked up to the values.

“The Grapevine program is an ongoing network. It was not a one-way experience, employees fostered connections with each other and now have contacts right across the business that they can draw on.”

The Grapevine program now serves as a network of contacts for Grapevine Alumni. A survey of participants showed a 13 per cent increase in employee engagement and engagement in teams with a Grapevine Alumni member also showed overall improvements in engagement.


DID YOU KNOW?

Inclusion is one of four Healthy Workplace Principles that help foster healthy relationships at work. Being included means having a sense of importance and value to others and provides a sense of belonging and desire to contribute.

It contextualises workers’ tasks and encourages them to act on behalf of the organisation. (Healthy Workplace Principles)


PepsiCo, Workplace of Excellence in Creating Individual Flexibility

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“One Simple Thing” is a PepsiCo initiative that provides flexible work options for all employees, aimed at helping them balance personal responsibilities and lifestyle with work, by giving them a structured way to talk to managers about their needs.

PepsiCo said “One Simple Thing” has been successful in creating flexibility for workers that is personal and suited to their individual situations.

Shiona Watson, Senior Director of Human Resources at PepsiCo

Shiona Watson, Senior Director of Human Resources at PepsiCo

 

Shiona Watson, Senior Director of Human Resources at PepsiCo said employees are encouraged to make work fit around their life, not the other way around.

“We encourage people to build their work life around their personal needs and embrace all the flexible working options available to them,” she said.

Some examples of ‘One Simple Thing’ ideas include:

  • Adjusting start or finish times,
  • Extending lunch breaks,
  • Having no meetings at certain times of the day and
  • Allocating time for professional development including researching, reading articles or attending seminars.

The results have been diverse; some workers start their day surfing or organise their work hours to keep fit, study or keep religious observances.

Business Relationship Manager, Abdul Ghaffar shared his experience working and fasting during the month of Ramadan.

“Through a ‘One Simple Thing’ conversation with my manager, PepsiCo have enabled me to work flexible hours during the month of Ramadan,” he said.

“I start work earlier and finish at 4:00pm, which enables me to break the fast at sunset with my family.

“I have full support from all my colleagues who understand the importance of flexible hours during Ramadan, and together we have agreed not to set meetings after 4pm.”

95% of PepsiCo employees reportedly agree that the culture of the organisation is supportive to working in a mobile and flexible way.

Ms Watson said their approach to flexibility was a source of pride.

“I am proud of how bold we are in our approach to flexible working. We are encouraging people to thrive both at work and externally and we recognise that this is the way forward to retain and attract good talent and to reward our employees for all the work they do,” she said.


DID YOU KNOW?

Senior managers can improve their relationships with their employees through conversations about their contributions. It instils a sense that they and their contributions are valued (Renewing Australian Workplaces).


Talio, Workplace of Excellence in Meaningful Communication

Technology has changed the way we work, making employees easier to contact anytime, anywhere – in fact, our research showed that in 2016, 40 per cent of Australian workers said they rely on technology to perform most of their work.

Although most organisations rely on email as a communication tool, one Brisbane-based organisation has eliminated them as its primary means of communication in a bid to improve work relationships.

Nathan Schokker, Director and Facilities Manager

Nathan Schokker, Director and Facilities Manager

 

Nathan Schokker, Director and Facilities Manager at Talio, a facilities management services provider in Brisbane, made the decision two years ago to limit email communication in the workplace, after he began to notice the unhealthy habits associated with its use.

“As an organisation, we were almost tied to them. We had the habit of checking emails every ten minutes. It was a case where people were getting bogged down by emails,” Mr Schokker said.

The bold decision to reduce emails meant Talio employee were encouraged to have face-to-face meetings or to pick up the phone to respond to client or supplier emails.

“Our aim was to eliminate as many emails as possible and get back to the sentiment that there is a person on the end of the other line,” said Mr Schokker.

This approach has reduced the number of miscommunications that often occur through email and would otherwise have led to further issues or strained relationships.

Although it was difficult at first to get all employees on board for the change, Mr Schokker said it was well worth it for Talio, improving productivity and relationships.

“Across a range of measurements including productivity, efficiency, profitability, we have experienced double digit growth after the change,” he said.

On top of improving business KPIs, healthier work-life balance was also part of the reason emails were eliminated and there has been a genuine difference in culture and wellbeing.

“As the CEO, I expected myself to work a little harder than everyone else but my employees were also working on weekends, after hours and were ‘on call’,” he said.

“At one point there was an environment where you think you have to respond no matter what time it was – people underestimate the damage that constant communications can have on your mental and emotional state. When are you ever re-setting the system, and getting yourself back?”

By reducing email use, Talio changed its workplace culture from an expectation to be “busy” with Mr Schokker leading the change.  

“If you don’t practice what you preach, you lose credibility – as much as it’s spoken about, it has got to be actioned,” he said.

“We reworked mindsets by clearly stating the fact that employees are not expected to always be on call and that they can be just as valuable to the business with this change.”

Many organisations are in this mindset – in fact, Reventure’s research shows 46 per cent of workers say they feel “always on” and unable to completely shut off from work (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace).

Mr Schokker said that reducing emails reinforces the importance for building and maintaining relationships face-to-face and increasing employee wellbeing.


DID YOU KNOW?

Most communication is non-verbal. Engaging with your employees face-to-face is a great way to show that you value your people and helps to develop a listening culture. (Renewing Australian Workplaces).


SEEK, Workplace of Excellence in Inclusion

SEEK is an organisation that aims to champion diverse and inclusive workforces. And with good reason too. Diversity has many advantages; it can generate strong business outcomes, it represents the customer group served but overall, SEEK said it is “simply the right thing to do”.

The world’s leading online employment marketplace business, has led an innovative program in the last year in its own workplace, helping vision-impaired people get work experience.

Toni Williams, SEEK Diversity and Inclusion Manager

Toni Williams, SEEK Diversity and Inclusion Manager

 

SEEK believe at the heart of creating a diverse workforce is creating an inclusive workforce and Toni Williams, SEEK Diversity and Inclusion Manager said the organisation has embedded inclusion into the company’s set of beliefs.

“At SEEK we have a set of beliefs that guide our behaviour and conduct at work, one of these is to have a culture where people feel valued,” she said.

“This sets the tone for how inclusion is valued from the top down in our organisation. Inclusion is genuine and embedded within our culture and we foster an environment where people can be their real selves at work.

“We apply an inclusive lens to everything we do, so be it that you are a single parent, have elderly parents you care for or have physical or psychological health issues you will be set up and supported to succeed.”

In 2014, while working with Vision Australia to onboard an employee with low vision, SEEK became aware of the low number of people who are blind or have low vision in the workforce.

Across Australia there are around 350,000 people who are blind or have low vision and this figure is expected to rise to 550,000 within the next 15 years. Of those who can work, 60 per cent are unable to find employment. This is often due to perceptions that it would be easier to have an able-bodied person do the job.

SEEK said they saw an opportunity to bridge the employment gap for vision impaired people, solve a business need, and raise awareness of the issues people with vision impairment face when looking for work. The result was an eight-week work experience program in partnership with Vision Australia.

SEEK aimed to learn through the program how to:

  1. Create a more inclusive workplace for people who are blind or have low-vision
  2. Open a new talent pool for SEEK, and
  3. Provide rewarding work experience for participants.

Ms Williams said it was important that all tasks that participants completed were meaningful.

“Whether it was writing ad copy or responding to jobseeker enquires via email, the work that participants produced had to be things they were proud of and looked good on their resume,” she said.

Vision Australia helped SEEK make necessary workplace and technology adjustments including screen magnifying capabilities and voice activated software.

“We wanted to give participants work experience that was beneficial but more importantly open an untapped talent pool to our own recruiting,” she said.

“We detailed SEEK’s organisational purpose and vision to participants and invited them along to team meetings to fully integrate their experience and allow them to pick up valuable communication skills.”

On the flip side, existing employees and leadership did their own fair share of learning how best to facilitate a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Vision Australia came into the workplace to identify potential issues and offer advice, much of which was about being mindful – like ensuring knives are not left on kitchen benchtops.

Ms Williams said SEEK is continuing its program with two sessions occurring a year and plans for a permanent paid program in the works. One employee from the pilot program has continued work on an ongoing basis.

“One of the key learnings we had was that the workplace doesn’t have to be perfectly accessible, you can start small and work your way up. It should not be a deterrent from starting,” she said.

“Another key aspect was being flexible. Peak hour times for commuting may not be best for blind people or those with low vision so we worked with participants to understand their needs and what worked best for them.

“We found out that by participants being able to avoid peak times on public transport it had a huge impact on stress levels and achieving a work life balance.

“Also, we learned about the enormous amount of support out there from industry bodies who advised us on anything we were unsure of and needed greater understanding of.”

SEEK said it was important to share what they had learned and created a series of videos titled “Open Your Eyes” to extend the reach of the pilot program. They encourage other organisations to do the same and look beyond traditional approaches to sourcing talent that encourage diversity and inclusion.


DID YOU KNOW?

Reventure’s research shows a culture of meaning and purpose in organisations is what most Australians want in their work. Fostering employee participation and inclusion is the first step in building such a culture (Delivering Purpose and Meaning).


The Cotton On Group, Workplace of Excellence in Responding to Feedback

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Ever wished you could start your day two hours later to get some proper exercise? Or work a couple more hours in the morning to avoid the afternoon peak traffic?

Australian fashion retailer, the Cotton On Group has come up with a solution that allows team members to do just that. Empower Hours is a new initiative that has been implemented at the Group’s headquarters in Geelong, giving employees greater flexibility over the hours they work.

Kiria McNamara, HR Manager

Kiria McNamara, HR Manager

 

Human Resources Manager Kiria McNamara said the program was a way to keep pace with an industry moving away from traditional work hours. Under the Empower Hours Program, core hours are maintained between 10am and 4pm when employees attend meetings and collaborative activities, however they have the option to work the rest of their hours anywhere between 7am and 7pm.

She said the program came about through the Group’s global engagement surveys which found employees wanted greater choice over how they use their time.

“Each quarter, the Group conducts global engagement surveys to help management understand what matters most to our people, and ensure the organisation continues to evolve in line with their expectations,” Ms McNamara said.

Empower Hours was born out of direct feedback from our team members who wanted the flexibility to manage their own time and balance the things that matter most to them.”

Understanding employee expectations is becoming crucial for organisations looking to attract and retain the best employees. This program comes at a time when Australian workers are becoming increasingly disillusioned with their workplace; a study undertaken by Reventure found almost half of the Australian workforce were intending to change jobs in the next 12 months.

However, the Cotton On Group has been successful in building a workplace that attracts great talent; Empower Hours has helped the organisation break into LinkedIn’s Top Companies in 2017, making it one of Australia’s most sought-after companies to work in.

Ms McNamara said the response to Empower Hours has been well-received because team members can easily adapt hours to their situation.

Empower Hours mean different things to different team members, departments and brands under the Cotton On Group umbrella, and we love that,” she said.

“Our people have embraced the initiative and continue to work the flexible hours they love and deserve.”

From parents to sports fanatics, the program has had a positive impact on employees looking to balance their life priorities with work.

“Our team members love the flexibility that Empower Hours offers. During the summer months, they take advantage of the sun and beaches close to our head office in Geelong; while our parents love that they can spend quality time with their children after school,” she said. 

Ms McNamara said empowering their people to choose how they want to work is the key to the success of the program.

“We trust our team members to know what works best for them so they are still able to fulfil their working commitments but with the added benefits of flexibility,” she said.

The Cotton On Group’s vision to encourage a healthy work/life balance does not just end in Geelong. The success of Empower Hours will see the program rolled out internationally across their global hubs in New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the United States and Brazil.


DID YOU KNOW?

Feeling that work/life balance has improved in the workplace leads to an increase in job satisfaction and lower frequency of high stress at work (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace).


PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Workplace of Excellence in Implementing Flexibility

Flexible working arrangements are an increasingly common workplace initiative introduced by organisations that are keen to attract the best talent to their ranks. Typically, it allows employees to tailor their work commitments to their other life responsibilities. However only a handful of organisations are offering flexibility to all their employees, a move that PwC made two years ago.

In 2015, PwC introduced “default flexibility” which allows employees to work the hours they want, where they want and how they want. In the last year, the uptake of this flexibility initiative has been significant, with more than eighty per cent of the workforce identifying themselves as having entered into some form of flexible arrangement.

Sue Horlin, Human Capital Leader

Sue Horlin, Human Capital Leader

 

Sue Horlin, Human Capital Leader at PwC Australia said the program starts with talking to the individual and opening up a conversation to design a role that works.

“Our all roles flex policy is centred on every single person in our organisation having the opportunity to talk to us about how they want to work,” Ms Horlin told a future that works.

“Our default position is that we will build your role around you to give you the flexibility you need.”

This default position means employees at PwC do not have to “break the ice” on flexibility to their employers, instead the door is always open to discuss what working arrangement would work best for them during the different stages of their working life.

Some of the options taken up by employees include combinations of working different hours, reduced hours at work or working from home, either temporarily or on a permanent basis.

Ms Horlin said in order for a flexibility program to succeed, organisations need to be led in two primary ways:

  1. Leadership from the top – leadership needs to believe in the program and model it themselves.
  2. Led by employees – key employees on all levels also need to support the program. This includes team leaders and managers.

PwC have also changed the way employees can enjoy their public holiday - “floating public holidays” allow employees to take a public holiday on the day of their choosing.

Giving employees greater choice and giving them autonomy to choose appropriately is about building trust, according to Ms Horlin.

“Our flexibility program demonstrates how much management trust their employees, which is what helps attract and retain employees with diverse talents.”

“We are increasingly employing people with different skill sets and different backgrounds and have different ways of working”.

“Our purpose at PwC is to build trust in society and solve important problems and we have values and behaviours that we live by.”

Ms Horlin said flexibility was the solution for PwC – “As long as employees continue to work towards the organisation’s purpose, PwC trusts them to work the way that is best for them.”

PwC’s progressive flexibility policies has landed them the top spot in LinkedIn’s Top Companies in 2017.


DID YOU KNOW?

The workplace of the future will need leaders to be open to changed work practices that acknowledge business, family and community life (CEO Insights Report).


Coles Express, Workplace of Excellence in Facilitating Fitness

In December 2014, Coles Express launched Express Steps, an innovative wellbeing program aimed at encouraging employees to improve their physical and mental health.

The Express Steps program was triggered by an internal workplace survey of over 1000 employees which found that 84 per cent of employees were not getting enough physical activity.

Charlie Griffin, Head of Safety and Wellbeing

Charlie Griffin, Head of Safety and Wellbeing

 

Coles Express is a fuel and convenience operator with 700 stores nationwide and more than 5,000 employees. Charlie Griffin, Head of Safety and Wellbeing at Coles Express, said Express Steps was born after a team member explored the benefits of the corporate Fitbit program.

Through Express Steps, team members can purchase a Fitbit at a subsidised rate and become involved by competing against teams across the Coles Express business to rack up their step count and help their area to top the leader board.

Mr Griffin, who has been Head of Safety and Wellbeing for thirteen years, said the program was first implemented to prevent manual handling injuries.

“We have had a very good track record for safety performance, but I felt it was the right time for Coles Express to take that next step and strive to create a healthier workforce, therefore limiting the risk of injury,” said Griffin.

“A lot of our team members are standing at the register all day and so they are not moving a lot.

“We put this program in place to encourage people to become more active and become a healthier person both physically and mentally.”

Since the launch, one team member has lost more than forty kilograms with Express Steps and another member has not only lost weight through the program but has become more social, feeling more encouraged to leave the house and join social groups outside of work.

“That is the main driver,” Griffin said.

“We hear lots of little positive stories and if we can help one or two people change their lives then we know we are doing a great thing.”

As an added incentive, team members receive Flybuy points for being active participants in the program.

Team members who are active every day for a month – regardless of how many steps they take – receive 2,000 points, which roughly equates to ten dollars. There are 380 Coles Express team members using their Fitbits on a regular basis.

Although there are no quick fixes, Coles Express has endeavoured to make simple changes to support the wellbeing of the workforce.

The same internal workplace survey also showed 46 per cent of team members only ate breakfast less than two days a week. In response, Coles Express provided a toaster for every store and permitted access to discounted breakfast items for team members working early in the morning.

Express Steps and Coles Express’ wider health and wellbeing program ultimately works to improve safety and wellbeing and minimise the risk of fatigue and injury.

“Ultimately, that is good for our business and gives way to greater efficiency, productivity and happier team members,” said Griffin.

Due to the success of Express Steps, the program has been extended to Coles’ Store Support Centre in Hawthorn East to encourage more team members across the business to get active.

The program has now shifted to focus on individuals, however team competitions have not disappeared altogether; Coles’ next competitive team member event will kick off soon.


DID YOU KNOW?

Our research shows engaging in physical exercise is correlated with higher job satisfaction (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace).


HESTA, Workplace of Excellence in Fostering a Generous Culture

a future that works spoke to Sophie Sigalas, Executive of People Strategy at HESTA about their culture of giving and why they encourage employees to volunteer on company time.

Sophie Sigalas, Executive of People Strategy

Sophie Sigalas, Executive of People Strategy

 

HESTA is an industry superannuation fund managing $37 billion for over 820,000 members in health and community services, making it one of Australia’s top super funds. As the industry super fund for community and primary health care workers, childcare workers, nurses, midwives and aged care workers, a culture founded on empathy and giving is part of the organisation’s core values, says Sophie Sigalas.

Their volunteering program which is part of their overall learning offering allows all full-time employees six days of paid leave a year to volunteer.

Employees have previously donated their time in the sustainability space, housing and community services and mentoring, but most employees choose the health and community service sector to give back.

“Volunteer leave has been in place for a long time and we are generous with it because it allows employees an opportunity to give their time to the community rather than focusing solely on a financial contribution,” Sigalas said.

“In our work, employees become very connected to our members and work with them daily, so it feels natural for them to give back and we just give them the opportunity to do so.”

To ensure employees are also enhancing their skills, last year HESTA began a new system allowing employees to assemble profiles of their skills and experiences to match themselves to volunteer programs and not-for-profits.

Employees identified their current skill set and determined what skills would be beneficial to them in their role in the future.

“Assisting people from all walks of life enables employees to see different perspectives, for example someone on the people and culture team can improve their communication, organisation, planning and coaching capabilities,” said Ms Sigalas.

HESTA’s strategic aim is have their volunteer program evolve into an online portal accessible to employees and organisations looking for volunteers, matching availabilities and skills, similar to a specialised search engine.

“The online portal would allow organisations and charities to post their volunteer opportunities and what their needs are so employees can select placements based on their availabilities and skills,” Ms Sigalas said.

“This program has value to both the workplace and the community at large and employees are reminded of the impact of their contributions at the Diversity Morning Tea held at the end of each year. Employee efforts are presented to the whole team creating a strong community culture and allowing workers to recognise and value the difference they have made.”

Among others initiatives, HESTA employees have donated clothes for disadvantaged women through Fitted For Work, partnered with Red Cross for blood donation and worked with TLC for Kids to provide presents to needy children at Christmas, rather than holding an office Kris Kringle.

Ms Sigalas said this whole-of-workplace approach is part of establishing and preserving the culture of generosity at HESTA.

“We invest in our culture, and as a result our employees are engaged, active and contributing members of the community.”


DID YOU KNOW?

Our research indicates that increasingly workers are looking for roles that serve something important beyond themselves and contribute to the common good (Delivering Purpose and Meaning).


Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Workplace of Excellence in Employee Autonomy

Tiffany Raethel, Senior Organisational Development Consultant at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank revealed to a future that works how Activity Based Working (ABW) has led to greater employee autonomy and choice in their landmark Adelaide office.

Tiffany Raethel, Senior Organisational Development Consultant at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

Tiffany Raethel, Senior Organisational Development Consultant at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

 

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, is one of Australia’s largest banks with 7,200 staff in its workforce and $71 billion of assets under management. In 2014, the Bank consolidated offices across five locations into one main Adelaide office for more than 1,100 employees. The new building has since been hailed for its innovative design oriented around Activity Based Working (ABW), a system of working that gives employees the freedom to choose how and where they work based on the type of task they have at hand.

Tiffany Raethel has stewarded ABW for the last three years and has seen first-hand the benefits that have come from greater employee autonomy over working environments.

“Working flexibly allows our people to not only choose the right work space for the task at hand, but also allows them to engage and collaborate with others in a way that is effective,” she said.

ABW is founded on the idea that different tasks are suited to different environments. The modern-day office is typically compromised of areas for meetings and individual desks, however Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s workplace provides a variety of task-oriented spaces including quiet enclosed booths for concentration, formal and informal meeting spaces for collaboration and a choice of indoor and outdoor spaces due to wide-reaching internet connectivity and portable devices.

Employees, including the Executive Team, start their day by collecting their laptops and personal items from lockers – which is part of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Clean Desk Policy. Employees leave a clean desk after each work day, enabling a fresh start the next day, and has assisted in de-cluttering and reducing paper waste.

Large project tables are situated around the workplace for informal team meetings and “touchdown desks” are designed for short-term work, such as reading emails in between meetings.

Ms Raethel says this approach is focused on flexibility – for example, some employees still prefer working at a traditional desk, however they always have a choice to do otherwise.

“This is not one size fits all – employees pick and choose how they would like to work depending on what they are feeling at the time or in some cases even depending on the weather,” she said.

“The crux of it is individuals have that opportunity to choose based on what they need at that time.”

This increased level of autonomy has in turn fostered greater trust, encouraged collaboration and improved business processes.

Demonstrating greater trust, employees at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Adelaide office are measured on their outcomes not their visibility.

“Everyone has measured goals and tasks, and teams touch base regularly with their leaders but they do not necessarily have to be in eyesight,” said Ms Raethel.

Without fixed desks, members of different teams find it easier to collaborate without feeling isolated, members of support areas like Human Resources or Finance can sit with other departments on days needed, but also with their own department.

“Previously, support staff would sit with an outside department then correspond remotely or have meetings as they needed, but this often left them feeling disjointed from their own peers and network. This way they have the best of both environments,” said Ms Raethel.

The open-plan workplace has also increased efficient communication with senior staff who have become more accessible. Employees are able to easily catch them on the floor to have a quick conversation, helping to eliminate the need to book meetings, sometimes weeks in advance. Employees are then able to progress through their work quicker, making business easier and faster.

Employee feedback has been positive – internal surveys conducted within a year of the move found 60 per cent of employees feel ABW works well for them whilst 69 per cent of line managers said they produce their best ideas working somewhere other than an individual workstation.

“As employees have become more familiar with this way of working, the general sentiment that you hear around the office is that people love this kind of environment, which is almost homely. Most people have said they couldn’t return to the old way of working,” she said.

Ms Raethel said leadership has been key to success, especially as long-term employees are generally accustomed to a certain way of working and as such take longer to adjust.

“If you don’t have your leaders supporting and abiding by the new program, then nobody else will – everyone has to be on the same even footing,” she said.

Ms Raethel says due to the success of the Adelaide office transition to ABW, employees based in Sydney have also moved to a similar environment earlier this year, with the lessons from the Adelaide project overlaid with improvements.

“From an organisational perspective, it certainly has advantages in key performance areas and we will continue to use this model as we look at new projects.”


DID YOU KNOW?

Encouraging employee autonomy and active engagement is the first step in a future that works’ six step guide to build a culture of purpose and meaning. (Delivering Purpose and Meaning).


Heritage Bank, Workplace of Excellence in Showing Recognition

One of Australia’s oldest and largest mutual banks has implemented a creative solution to master the simple, yet often overlooked concept of a “well done” according to Chief People Officer, Darren Stephens and Human Resource Manager, Margo Dewar.

Darren Stephens, Chief People Officer

Darren Stephens, Chief People Officer

 
Margo Dewar, Human Resource Manager

Margo Dewar, Human Resource Manager

 

Ranging from digital e-cards to annual awards nights, Heritage Bank’s tiered worker recognition program, “Heritage Heroes” aims to recognise, and pay tribute to workers excelling in their role and going beyond the call of duty.

The tiers operate in the following order:

1. A peer-to-peer system of recognition on a digital platform

Heritage Bank has utilised innovative technology to allow employees to instantly send each other e-cards from their mobile devices when they see one of their colleagues going above and beyond.

2. Icons recognising company values

Employees receive an icon token for exemplifying a company value, be it customer service, passion or courage. Once you receive an icon token, you are considered a Heritage Hero. Token recipients can be seen on an updated feed on the Heritage Bank intranet page which makes it easy for employees to celebrate their colleagues.

3. Recognition ceremonies

Each quarter, employees nominate each other for awards presented at a recognition ceremony. Winners are decided by a committee.

4. Annual platinum awards night

The annual platinum awards night recognises high-performing Heritage Heroes at a black-tie event. Board members are in attendance and the CEO hosts the event, allowing the top hierarchy to express their gratitude.

Using a digital platform, the program has been rolled out across the organisation, to all 800 employees, to recognise those who do more than just their day job and demonstrate exemplary employee performance.

Darren Stephens, Chief People Officer at Heritage Bank said the culture at Heritage Bank was driven by the organisation’s core value to put people first and that presentations of tokens and letters of congratulations were made in a public setting.

“Engagement must be genuine, as employees can easily spot insincerity or superficial recognition,” he said.

“The program excels at building authentic and positive team culture because appreciation is not orchestrated. We want the program to be easy for people to participate in, but it also needs to be worthy.

“When employees get their token and letter, we make the recognition in a public forum whether it is at a meeting or over a tea break.”

Previously, recognition programs at Heritage Bank were administered through each separate team, however the bank saw an opportunity to improve its recognition program after it underwent changes to its values and strategy.

“The new values and new strategy were our call to action. We formed an organisation-wide recognition program that combined programs that were piecemeal into something that captured and celebrated workers on a regular basis,” said Ms Dewar.

The program applies to the whole workforce right through customer service roles to executive management, and has been championed from the top from the beginning.

“The new CEO Peter Lock, drove the consolidation of Heritage Heroes into one program,” said Ms Dewar.

“The positive tone of the executive is a big contributor; the CEO is a zealot for this type of program and role models it and demonstrates it,” said Mr Stephens.

Executive management have been actively included in the program and receive recognition from their employees, just like everyone else. As part of the Heritage Heroes program, already a total of 2,500 e-cards have been shared between employees since the program’s inception and the new combined recognition program is being credited for helping to improve relationships with customers and between employees

Mr Stephens said that the program has been a success across the organisation.

“Although it is relatively new, the high representation of high level people engaging in the program shows that it is meaningful.”


DID YOU KNOW?

Only half (52%) of high-performing workers say they receive praise and recognition at work? (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace).


Deloitte, Workplace of Excellence in Promoting Work/Life Balance

Alec Bashinsky is a National Leader in People & Performance at Deloitte and spoke to a future that works about their Return to Work program and WorkAgility Structure.

Alec Bashinsky - National Leader, People & Performance, Deloitte

Alec Bashinsky - National Leader, People & Performance, Deloitte

 

Return to Work is a 20-week part-time paid program aimed at assisting professionals who have been out of the workplace for an extended period of time. It is Deloitte’s new solution to tap into talent.

The part-time program will see participants work for four days a week, helping them transition back from their career break but also enable them to balance their other life priorities.

Alec Bashinsky, Deloitte’s National Partner for People & Performance said although open to men and women, the program was primarily aimed at helping women transition back to work.

“The Return to Work program is a proactive measure that came out of conversations at the Diversity Council of Australia where we decided to target talented women who had had families and wanted to reconnect,” he said.

“Workplaces around Australia are slow to realise there is a pool of talent that hasn’t been tapped into, particularly talented women who don’t feel like they can acclimatise back into work after having a family.

“In our sounding outs with our network of Deloitte alumni, we found many women felt they had been out of work for too long and therefore found it difficult to reconnect and reskill and that is what our program addresses.”

Return to Work participants will work with clients whilst receive support and training. This support and training takes a three-pronged approach, starting with a broad induction program that helps build hard, technical skills. External speakers are worked into the schedule to help participants update professional skills to get back into a workplace environment.

“We set up sessions that explain our direction and strategies to help align and update understanding of what has changed,” said Mr Bashinsky.

“We also do additional training around key technology skills that are now being utilised, such as our performance App StandOut, Yammer and our broader new tech platforms.”

The program also provides opportunities for networking with senior leadership that helps participants reconnect to the working landscape and make connections. Lastly, one-on-one sessions are dedicated to mentoring and coaching each individual.

The program will offer places in Melbourne and Sydney and is designed to help professionals achieve a permanent or contract role at the end of the 20 weeks. Return to Work has attracted over 450 applications to date.

Mr Bashinsky said Return to Work was an initiative part of their overall Work Agility Structure which fosters flexibility and agility in the team as a whole.

“Our approach is simple yet effective; we ask workers how they want to work at a team level,” he said.

In a typical team of eight at Deloitte, employees work on assignments that require setting mutual objectives from the outset and outlining what kind of team dynamic will be fostered – essentially how do you all want to work together?

“We call this ‘WorkAgility’ and it is really resonating amongst our people,” he said.

“What we hear back from our employees is one person is training for a triathlon and gets in a bit late in the mornings, another person is doing their MBA and is out of action to attend lectures. Another person does the pick-up and drop-off for their kids, one team member is an expert and is in for only three days and another worker is available five days a week 24/7.”

Rather than looking at these diverse lifestyles and time schedules and seeing a problem, Deloitte recognises diversity will continue to be part of the future of working pragmatically and cohesively.

“At times employees can feel guilty about continuing their education, or pursuing other passions such as triathlons, but we understand that this is conducive to employee wellbeing and engagement,” he said.

As the concept of flexible working becomes a giant in the human resource world, Deloitte is working to ensure that flexible working is not just about working from home but delivering results for their company, clients and employees.

“We let the client know this is how the team will work to deliver the best results.”

This is a whole-of-work initiative and a future that works commends the commitment demonstrated by Deloitte.


DID YOU KNOW?

41% of workers said that flexibility in working arrangements was very important when finding or staying in a particular job? (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace)


Blue Bike Solutions, Workplace of Excellence in Skill Development

Daniel Muggeridge, Executive Director of Blue Bike Solutions places cross-skilling at its forefront.

Focused on fuelling vision and delivering meaningful outcomes in the community sector, the organisation utilises the team’s broad and diverse experience across varying industries to apply best practice knowledge for their client.

“We see it all the time in our clients’ workplaces especially in organisations that have merged – they struggle to align different people, processes and systems with a common purpose and clarity which is vital in driving engagement and productivity,” said Mr Muggeridge.

 “Our passion and purpose is to serve organisations that create a dividend in the community rather than only on the Stock Exchange”. 

Blue Bike Solutions provides leadership through our clients’ difficult transformation journeys to realise new opportunities or resolve complex issues. The organisation holds in tension the key skills of Strategy, Organisation and Technology to ensure organisational and community outcomes are met.

A similar holistic approach is taken within Blue Bike Solutions’ workplace – investing time and effort to lift the whole team’s capability through organisation-wide workshops in which various roles can teach their individual skills and different approaches can be synergised.

The Blue Bike Solutions team brings experience from community services, IT, education, charities, consulting, logistics, manufacturing, telecommunications, public sector, project management, leadership coaching and governance.

In one case, the sales department led a workshop on effective message delivery as the organisation believes consultants across the organisation should all be able to articulate key organisational messages clearly and concisely. 

2017 will see the organisation advance this cross-skilling culture - “as we are a small team, we have an opportunity to gain deeper insight in different roles, have greater transparency and look to the future, which will call for a more diverse set of skills.”

However there is a balance – there needs to be a high level of autonomy given to workers.

“Effective skill development is not learning the skill and then telling that department how to operate effectively. While there should be opportunities to practice and develops these new skills, workplaces must ensure that expertise of a given department is not overlooked in the process”.


DID YOU KNOW?

About a third of workers (34%) say they receive the coaching and development they need to advance in their job. (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace)


Care Connect, Workplace of Excellence in Implementing Change

Paul Ostrowski, CEO of Australia’s largest independent homecare advisor and broker Care Connect, explains how the need for change can be recognised and implemented with employees, not for them.

Paul Ostrowski, CEO

Paul Ostrowski, CEO

 

Care Connect provides personalised advice and solutions for home care, stating that “as you age, your needs will change. We’re here to help you manage those changes as they happen.”

This expertise in managing change also transcends into the workplace. The homecare sector has been coloured with ongoing developments over the last few years such as Consumer Directed Care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme reforms, leading to an unsteady, transitioning period and high staff turnover for many organisations.

In a field where social workers are generally older and have an established mindset on how to perform their role, this new landscape required them to transition from a government compliance -focus to consumers.

While there was resistance within Care Connect to adapt, much of this was mitigated by the formation of a small Transformation Team, said Mr Ostrowski, which was made up of engaged workers who volunteered to design and trial new methods of operation.

The organisation exposed these volunteers to diverse thinking, bringing in experts in marketing, organisational change and finance to assist in developing a new model, and were told that struggle and debate were appropriate and necessary parts of the process.

There was also a Transformation Team blog on the Care Connect intranet that allowed members to update their colleagues and communicate their enthusiasm.

“The Transformation Team consisted of 20 chosen volunteers from frontline workers to various levels of management. It not only allowed those who interact with our clients to add insight into procedure, but gave workers ownership and a role in the organisation’s path forwards,” said Mr Ostrowski.

The path forward saw the organisation refocusing on aged care operations rather than disability support, a stronger division between client attraction and retention in organisational roles and increased efficiency through clear KPIs and open feedback channels.

“The members of the Team ultimately become active advocates of this new model within the workplace and assisted in its rollout which was on a team-by-team basis.”

A recent internal survey demonstrated its success, with high engagement levels within aged care and increased flexibility through new technologies.

“This was a much-needed learning platform at a time of great change and aggressive competition. We are by no means out of this period of uncertainty, but we now have a more dedicated, informed workforce who was given the opportunity to design their future.”


DID YOU KNOW?

50 CEOs agreed that the rapidity of change is the most significant pressure point creating an uncertain future. (CEO Insights).


Philanthropy Australia, Workplace of Excellence in Aligning Dispersed Teams

Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies leads a unique team dispersed across Australia that are known for their self-motivation and high performance – traits that make their employees one of the organisation’s most valuable assets.

 Sarah Davies – CEO, Philanthropy Australia

 Sarah Davies – CEO, Philanthropy Australia

 

Ms Davies said an employee’s proven commitment to a greater purpose prior to taking on their role has proven beneficial.

“Working at a not-for-profit organisation can often be difficult and uncertain, and the people who come to work with us know this, and are absolutely committed to the cause,” Davies said.

Despite being a small team, Philanthropy Australia works across all states and territories nationwide with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, keeping the team out of physical proximity.

Separated by what sometimes can be a tyranny of distance, the peak national body for philanthropic organisations has worked innovatively to achieve a win-win situation for employees and the organisation.

Ms Davies said this distance makes it that much more important to be collaborative and engaged.

“Collaboration is the key to going the distance in our work. There is a great African proverb that says if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together – and we want to go far,” she said.

Philanthropy Australia ensures they ‘go together’ by meeting in person three times a year purely to collaborate, undertake team building exercises and think strategically rather than discussing day-to-day business operations.

While the topic of the meeting varies depending on what the team needs at the time, Philanthropy Australia’s solution have, so far, focused on three themes:

  1. Nurturing interpersonal relationships.
  2. Aligning and understanding the personal values of team members.
  3. Collaborating to form a long-term strategy and how to best undertake organisational change – including what works well and what needs to be adapted better.

A most recent example of collaboration is their Strategic Plan for 2017-2020. Each team member contributed their individual expertise, whether it was administration, membership services or marketing, into the strategy to ensure it genuinely represented a team effort. It brought individual roles back to a core purpose. 

The exemplary way in which this has assisted overall team development has demonstrated how Philanthropy Australia wins by recognising each employee’s value and contribution despite being scattered across the country.


DID YOU KNOW?

Our interviews with 50 leading CEOs showed leaders must be open to changed work practices which nurture and support staff rather than focusing on output. (CEO Insights)


Volkswagen, Workplace of Excellence in Tackling Technology

volkswagen.jpg

“Volkswagen Group Australia has implemented a cultural change program with the objective to be a leading customer-centric, high performance organisation,” says Human Resources Director, Lisa Taylor.

Lisa Taylor – Human Resources Director

Lisa Taylor – Human Resources Director

 

Fundamentally, whilst technology has undoubtedly increased productivity and connectedness, it is also having a compounding impact on work patterns and the ability of workers to switch off from their job.

Volkswagen has been at the forefront, with the introduction of an agreement in 2012 that stopped its servers sending emails to some of its German employees after working hours.

Under this arrangement, servers stop sending emails 30 minutes after the end of employees' shifts, and then start again 30 minutes before they return to work. This gives workers who like to check in to their work email on the commute to and from work the opportunity to do so.


DID YOU KNOW?

46% of workers feel technology brings with it the feeling of being ‘always on’ and unable to completely shut-off from work. (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace)


Leading Teams, Workplace of Excellence in Providing Positive Leadership

leading teams.jpg

Leading Teams practice what they preach, says Leading Team Partner/Facilitator Tim Ferguson. Operating under an innovative business structure which places strong team dynamics and clear organisational purpose at its core, Leading Teams helps to establish this structure in other organisations across the nation in a bid to develop high performing teams.

Tim Ferguson – Partner / Facilitator

Tim Ferguson – Partner / Facilitator

 

Each year, Leading Teams asks the entire workforce to openly vote to elect their Leadership Team. Leadership must have shown the key agreed behaviours that their culture is based on, such as being accountable, showing initiative, listening to feedback, collaborating and genuinely caring for others.

This model was developed after Leading Teams founder Ray McLean witnessed how levels of performance varied among teams who had received the same training during his time at the Royal Australian Air Force. He realised the differences came from the nature of the relationships and the communication between the members.

Fundamentals such as support, trust and an ability to contribute are emphasised in the approach Leading Teams both operates internally and facilitates with their clients. Leading Teams has gone on to implement their system and create high performing teams in a range of industries from the AFL to major multinationals. The model ensures the onus is placed on team members to not only be responsible for their own workplace culture but to continuously add value.

“You can behave your way into a Leadership Team but you can always behave your way out of one,” said Mr Ferguson.

“We pride ourselves in taking the time to invest in our relationships so we can easily have the conversations that sometimes need to be had – whether it’s addressing counter-productive behaviour or aligning team members’ goals with the organisation’s purpose. Being able to have the conversations and move forward allows the team to constantly improve.”


DID YOU KNOW?

Our research shows if there is not a relationship of trust between leaders and their teams, then any attempt at fostering meaning will likely be unsuccessful. (Delivering Purpose and Meaning)