Wellbeing through the lens of Inclusion.
Wellbeing is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days, but what does it look like when organisations genuinely prioritise the health of their employees? When team leaders understand that experiencing inclusion is a strong determinant of wellbeing?
NEEOPA’s recent Wellness and Inclusion Showcase explored the importance of wellbeing through four table hosts with different areas of expertise: Rachel Clements, Director of Psychological Services at the Centre for Corporate Health; Graeme Cowan, speaker, author and RUOK Director from Creating Thriving Tribes; Sarah McCarthy, Workplace Education & Relationship Manager at Pride in Diversity; Lara Bisley, Workplace Program Manager at Smiling Mind.
After Juliet Bourke, partner at Deloitte, opened the showcase by calling for the need to understand and measure employee wellbeing and talk through the recent launch of Deloitte and Medibank’s Wellbeing@Work Index, each of our hosts ran a series of table discussions on how to promote mental health and inclusion in our workplaces. The following action points emerged:
1. Fight mental health stigma
According to Rachel Clements from the Centre for Corporate Health, psychological wellbeing is the biggest predictor of employee wellbeing.
Despite this, about 65 per cent of people do not come forward with mental health issues. A typical person’s coping strategy is to “work harder, work longer, mask and hide”. There are fears associated with disclosing one’s mental health condition at work, such as concerns over how that could impact future job prospects.
Rachel argues that for individual wellbeing to thrive, it is critical for leadership – the direct line manager of a team member – to provide a culture of psychological safety and an environment where supportive collegial relationships exist. Micro-affirmations are also important when looking after others and raising awareness. By simply having conversations about our wellbeing every day at work, we can make a difference.
2. Move from ‘dying’ to ‘thriving’
Graeme Cowan from Creating Thriving Tribes shared a universal scale called ‘the Moodometer’. According to this tool, employees move along a sliding scale from ‘thriving’ (the Green Zone, where your mood is optimistic and energetic) down to ‘dying’ (the Red Zone, where you feel anxious and depressed).
Many triggers can move us towards the Red Zone: our digital age, restructures, long work hours at the expense of exercise, solo living, having less time to see those who energise us. But Graeme says we are also seeing some great trends, such as senior leaders using strengths-based coaching, and a focus on our emotional and physical health.
Senior leaders play a role in modelling how to prioritise activities that keep them centred, such as for going for a run in the park each day. By tapping into our purpose, strength and energy, Graeme says we can create a more resilient version of ourselves.
3. Take LGBTI inclusion seriously
Different attributes make us who we are: gender, career, social status, parental status. While many are easily recognised, Sarah McCarthy from Pride in Diversity says some identities can be concealed – especially if there is a real or perceived negative consequence from revealing that identity.
This raises the issue of invisible stigmatised identity. Many organisations are considered inclusive, but according to Sarah, it’s the team that LGBTI employees engage with that provide the best gauge on how open they can be in the workplace. Many LGBTI employees look for explicit and implicit signs to determine whether a space is safe for them: language, policies, imagery, support mechanisms and more. We can ensure all staff are safe and valued by taking proactive measures, such as ensuring policy definitions are inclusive of same sex families.
To see how your organisation fares on LGBTI inclusion, the Australia Workplace Equality Index is a good place to start. Sarah also shared resources to help support LGBTI staff, especially in relation to the same sex marriage debate in Australia. You can access them here and here.
4. Make time for mindfulness
Today, we respond to stress in the same way humans did thousands of years ago: with the fight or flight impulse. While our ancestors required this response to get themselves out of physical danger, we experience this physiological response in non-life-threatening situations. This can be harmful to our wellbeing.
Lara Bisley from Smiling Mind says taking a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness – and encouraging your team to do the same – can be beneficial. Mindfulness helps us assess the way we manage and respond to stress. Research also shows being mindful brings a range of other benefits, including self-control, objectivity, mental clarity and the ability to treat others and ourselves with acceptance and compassion. The key, says Lara, is to develop a consistent approach, such as practicing mindfulness for 2 minutes every day. To help, Smiling Mind has a range of free apps available, as well as a workplace mindfulness programs.
Proactively support employees is a cost-effective proposition for organisations. By enabling employees to deal with stress, team leaders can better care for their staff’s wellbeing.
Thank you to all of our table hosts for joining us and sharing their experience and wisdom and for helping our members understand the important link between inclusion and wellbeing.
Don’t forget to purchase your ticket to the NEEOPA end of year function on Tuesday 21st November, it is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our year and what we have achieved, as well as the lessons learnt and the journey we still have ahead of us.
We are also delighted to have as our guest speaker Patrick Kidd, CEO of Invictus Games Sydney 2018. The Invictus Games were created by Prince Harry as a way to use sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, as well as generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
The Games kicked off in London in 2014 and since then have been held in the US and Canada, and in 2018 they are making their way to Sydney!
Patrick will be taking us through the legacy of the games, as well as looking at some of the transition challenges experienced by those that serve and the families and friends that support them.
We will also be hearing from Tom Moore, CEO and founder of WithYouWithMe, a veteran owned digital startup connecting ex-defence force talent to Australia’s leaders. Their programs are changing the way that the veteran labour force is perceived by Australian industry. Through free education, skills-gap training and labour force predictive analysis, the team is building a highly-skilled and competitive pipeline of ex-military talent.
To request and purchase your tickets email firstname.lastname@example.org today!