Mentally healthy workplaces in the retail sector
LeadingWell Queensland promotes mentally healthy workplaces in the retail sector
On 15 November 2017, LeadingWell Queensland held their third event in Brisbane which focused on promoting mentally healthy workplaces in the retail sector.
The presenters shared some interesting information and statistics, which were aimed to minimise the risk of psychological injury, enhance the work environment and increase prospects for long-term success and sustainability in the retail sector.
SuperFriend Insights and Impact Manager Dr Nerida Joss shared the 2017 Indicators of a Thriving Workplace Report results, specific to the retail industry.
“The annual survey aims to measure and track the current state of mental health and wellbeing in Australian workplaces against the desired state of optimal mental health and wellbeing in a workplace,” Dr Joss said.
“The four key evidence-based domains of workplace health and wellbeing are leadership, connectedness, policies and practices and capability and culture. Some of the indicators within these domains, particularly ‘connectedness’, do not cost money and can positively change the culture.”
“The retail industry’s progress towards the desired state showed a trend in respondents who worked in small organisations (2-19 employees) ranking their workplace more favourable than those in medium (20-199 employees) and certainly those in large (>200 employees) businesses. So the smaller the organisation that you work in, the more progressed workplace mental health and wellbeing will be. This is consistent with the national results,” said Dr Joss.
Other presenters included:
- WorkCover Queensland Customer Group Executive Jane Stevens presented on the cost and impact of psychological injuries including return to work outcomes and stay at work rates
- Office of Industrial Relations (OIR) Principal Advisor and Registered Psychologist Aislin Harper showcased OIR’s new Mentally Healthy Workplaces Toolkit
- The Reject Shop’s National Safety Manager Keith Govias and Safety Advisor (Qld) Billie Reynolds shared their journey towards creating mentally healthy workplaces.
See below for videos of each presenter at the forum.
Register your interest on the LeadingWell Queensland website to keep up-to-date on LeadingWell information and upcoming events.
Psychological injuries in the retail industry
Jane Stevens, Executive Services Industries, WorkCover Queensland
Mr Bannan: On to our first speaker. I'd like to introduce Jane Stevens who is my colleague at WorkCover Queensland. She holds the position of Executive within the service customer sector group. Jane has worked with WorkCover for 15 years, initially as an allied health advisor, prior to moving into management. Her sector includes retail, wholesale, labour hire, safety and trade industry sectors. Prior to her role at WorkCover Queensland, Jane worked in a variety of clinical settings as a physiotherapist, before moving into an injury management adviser role at a private insurer. She's had lots of experience relationship managing large associations, including the Australian Physio Association and the Australian Orthopaedic Association, which you can imagine are quite influential in terms of outcomes for injured workers in this scheme. Today, Jane is going to try and show you some insights into psychological injury across the retail sector. Now, it's probably a bit the wrong order, but what we wanted to do is set the scene in terms of what we know happens when things go wrong. So, it gives you a bit of a landscape, and then we'll move through, obviously, how you can influence that down the track. I'd like to welcome Jane.
Ms Stevens: Okay, for those of you don't know who we are or aren't familiar with WorkCover Queensland, we're an independent statutory owned corporation. We work very closely with the Office of Industrial Relations, which encompasses Workplace Health and Safety Queensland which enforces Workplace Health and Safety law and educates stakeholders about their obligations. We work closely with the regulator, previously known as Q-COMP, which regulates the scheme, including self-insurers, and is a facilitator of legal and medical resolutions, and we also work closely with the Electrical Safety Office. Both report to the Minister of Employment and Industrial Relations, the Honourable Grace Grace and, together, we work to try and promote and prevent and assist workplaces with managing injuries and recovery and return to work.
Now, what's a psychological injury? I'm sure you're familiar with a psychological injury but, for our purposes, there's two types of psychological injuries. There's the primary psychological injuries, which can occur from a critical event such as an armed robbery in the retail sector or other workplace issues. There's also secondary psychological injuries which are those injuries that arise after a physical injury. Now they can take days, weeks or months to arise. So the distinction with primary psychological injuries and our legislation is that employment must be the major significant contributing factor. Secondary psychological injuries must develop as a sequela to the physical injury. And some common secondary psychological injuries include depression, anxiety related disorders, adjustment disorders and substance abuse.
Moving now on to some of the retail industry trends. It may surprise you that psychological injury claims cost twice as much as a usual, normal physical claim in the retail industry. What’s even more surprising, however, is those physical claims which have a secondary psychological injury attached cost six times more than the average physical claim within the retail sector. The total cost to the industry, as you can see there, is over $6.5 million per year. While primary psychological claims make up a small proportion of accepted claims, less than 5% across all industries - and retail is very similar - we know that this is likely to under-represent the number of psychological injuries that workers suffer within their workplaces. We have certain criteria that we need to apply, as I mentioned before. So employment must be the major significant contributing factor.
We also have exclusionary causes for primary psychological injuries, such as it cannot arise out of reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way by the employer in connection with the worker's employment, or the worker's expectation of perception of reasonable management action being taken against a worker. While the number of secondary psychological claims is also relatively small in the scheme of things, it's important to remember that this figure only represents workers with a formal psychological diagnosis at the time of claim closure, and it's likely that it under-represents the true impact and number of these conditions. We know that many workers suffer psychological symptoms that may not manifest as a clinical diagnosis and that some are offered adjustment injury counselling to assist them promptly if any symptoms arise. Some symptoms may also arise following the closure of the statutory claim, which isn't going to be reflected in our figures. As well as the financial cost and premium cost to the employer, and the retail industry as a whole, there are the hidden costs of these claims. These include costs such as replacement wages if the worker is not able to return to work, other leave entitlements that may be payable, productivity losses associated with time off work or productivity losses while people are working with symptoms, and obviously there's the intangible cost like workplace morale, organisational climate and other industrial relations issues.
You can see from the graph that the implications for the final return to work are quite stark for those suffering psychological injuries. For those claims with no psychological component, the return to work rate at claim closure is approaching 98%. For those workers who have a primary psychological claim, the final return to work rate is sitting around 82%, and those with secondary psychological claims it falls quite markedly to 60%. We know that there are also challenges for those workers that sustain psychological injuries and staying at work. At WorkCover Queensland we measure a figure called 'stay at work', which is if the worker is at work at the time of the claim determination, and for those workers with an accepted psychological claim, this equates to only 14%. So only 14% of workers are at work at the time the claim is accepted, and this compares with over 50% for all retail claims.
So WorkCover's core objective when managing psychological and psychiatric injury claims is to make fair decisions as soon as possible to minimise disruption to the worker's life and their workplace. We know that the process for all involved in a psychological injury claim is hard and can be very challenging. The Actuaries Institute recently released a paper last month, in October, called 'Mental Health Insurance Green Paper', and this paper highlighted some of the difficulties that the insurance industry, as a whole, has in dealing with mental health. These include lack of relevant and appropriate collated data, issues surrounding diagnosis and the fact that the diagnosis may not relate to the prognosis or the impact on the person's ability to work, the severity and prospects of recovery are hard to understand and even harder to influence and the claim process itself can lead to secondary mental harm.
The other thing that we know here in Queensland is that over half of the primary psychological claims lodged in the workers' compensation scheme are rejected. So we know that the process needs to reflect the needs and expectations of the workers, many of whose primary psychological claim will actually be denied, and we understand by the time a worker lodges a claim with us, they've already been exposed to some psychological distress. Whether work has or hasn’t contributed or caused the injury and whether employment is the major significant contributing factor or not we still have an injured worker that is suffering psychological symptoms which has caused them to seek treatment and lodge a claim.
So we feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to ensure that any secondary harm is minimised, whilst appreciating, as Matt alluded to, that we're very much at the tail end of the process. We feel it's also important to educate and support our customers with the tools and resources that we'll hear about from the Office of Industrial Relations and SuperFriend and LeadingWell and to equip our workers and employers with some understanding of contemporary practices in mental health, and with links to over 150,000 employers we feel that we're in a unique position to be able to do this. So while the worker is central to the injury management process, both the employer and WorkCover, supported by our partners, are important and reliant on each other, and by working together we can get the best possible outcome for all.
I just want to briefly touch on secondary psychological injuries. So they're also very challenging, and probably some of you here in the room have had experiences with workers who have had a physical claim of varying severity that then develops a secondary psychological injury. So, as I mentioned before, these injuries can occur weeks, months or quite a while after the original physical injury. There are several worker factors that we know can contribute to the development of psychological injuries, secondary psychological injuries, which include not knowing the treatment or return to work program, concerns about job security or fear of re-injury, inability to cope with pain or a dependency on medications, the impact of family and activities of daily living and the isolation, the loneliness and feeling removed from the work environment.
We also know there's some factors from an employer perspective that can contribute, including placing blame for the accident, failing to involve the worker about current work events when they're away from work, casting judgement and lack of or poor communication initially, but also ongoing, and the employer's fear of re-injury, so not willing or being able to offer suitable duties.
So what can we do as industry, together, to assist in the prevention and minimise the impact? Early intervention is crucial, and by early intervention we not only mean early treatment, but early support and acknowledgement that a worker has had an injury. For some employers, larger employers particularly, they may have established networks, such as GPs, allied health professionals that, yet, they can utilise to assist in early intervention. But it doesn't mean that smaller versions can't be implemented as well. For smaller employers you could visit your own GP and establish and develop networks. We've got technology, smart phones and the like as well to seek information from our resources on our webpage and through WorkCover Queensland, you can support your workers by taking them to the doctor or the emergency department, or whatever may be appropriate in the circumstances, and we have work capability checklists and an injury information pack on our website which talks to about the key things you need to know as an employer how to support your worker. It has a letter template that you can take with the worker to the doctor to show your support for their recovery and return to work. So we know that best practice employers make regular contact, ensure clear communication with all parties, and this means early, frequent communication and from the right people at the right time.
This research is from Mary Wyatt et al in 2013 and they looked at early intervention programs within their Victorian scheme and, as you can see by the graphs, there's some quite interesting differences. So they found that employer support for an injured worker was crucial in predicting the return to work outcome. Workers who feel positively supported by their employer have a much better return to work outcome, and for those with psychological components to their injuries, as highlighted in red on the graph, or orange, the outcome is 60% higher with those receiving employer support, compared to those with 45% that didn't. The importance of early intervention, so the employer's intervention before the claim is lodged, is also critical. So the second graph there shows employers who have assisted with the return to work and obviously providing support for their worker and those that didn't. So, again, there's stark differences, particularly marked with psychological injuries or psychological components to their claim.
What else do we need to consider? So this comes courtesy of SuperFriend and this is a biopsychosocial model. So we like to use the tools and resources that we have available to support our customers with managing their injured worker through this process. Now, the concept of the biopsychosocial model is that the wider personal perspective of the worker and their socioeconomic context can influence their health outcome, and it's been shown to be a successful model in the NHS in the UK and worker compensation schemes in Canada. So each of these models encompasses the thought that there's more to the worker than just their diagnosis, and studies have demonstrated that applying a model of care that incorporates the biopsychosocial model to injury management and return to work has been successful in decreasing costs and duration and achieving better outcomes for people with musculoskeletal injuries and psychological injuries.
So there's some key components and that's that recognition of relationships are critical and central to providing healthcare, the use of risk factors or red flags is also well-recognised and the classification of claims for claims management. We also know about work itself and that early return to work reduces the risk of long term disability and improves quality of life. We know from the position statement from the Royal College of Occupational Physicians released in 2011 that the longer someone is off work, the less likely they are to return. In fact, if a worker is off for 20 days the chance of ever returning to work is 70%, 45 days, that's reduced to 50% and if they're off work for 70 days or more this is reduced to 35%.
The next slide just outlines some of the key benefits of a workplace health and wellbeing program, and recent research has shown that for every dollar spent on effective workplace mental health actions, $2.30 in benefits to the organisation can be realised. And PricewaterhouseCoopers did a report which outlined these benefits called 'Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace', and every business has a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace. And this includes not only physical injuries, but occupational health and safety includes psychological injury prevention as well.
The third crucial thing that we can do as industry together to support injured workers with psychological injury claims is leadership and organisational culture. So they play a critical role in ensuring early and sustained return to work which we saw before as critical in workers achieving return to work outcomes and psychological injury claims particularly. Early, prompt identification of the factors that influence the development of a second psychological injury are also very important and leadership from the top down, a system developing the culture that is needed to ensure employees are comfortable and confident of reporting incidents and injuries, particularly psychological ones, and immediate supervisors have a critical role in ensuring the success of a rehabilitation program as workers often believe that the supervisor's attitude towards them reflects that of management. Strong supervisor and co-worker support affects a worker's decision to return to work and can reduce claim timeframes and costs, and they may also eliminate or minimise any secondary psychological injuries that we talked about earlier.
So what are the key things that supervisors and leaders can do to assist in achieving a return to work for those workers with primary or secondary psychological injuries? Firstly, engage in early and regular and meaningful communication with your injured worker. Be active in the worker's return to work and recovery and show interest. Support them, monitor them, monitor their progress and make changes as necessary. We know that not every time a return to work goes smoothly, and there may be some ups and downs, and it's important to recognise and understand that and make the appropriate modifications. It's important to include the worker to develop a suitable duties program that they feel comfortable with in encouraging them to return to work. And, as we mentioned before, to minimise any risk of secondary psychological injuries, particularly as an employer, assure them that they won't lose their job because of the injury. It's also important to understand the work environment they're going back to for both primary and psychological injuries, so wherever possible try and place them with supportive colleagues to assist in their work and return to work during recovery.
And that concludes my presentation. We’ll hear more about the tools and resources that I alluded to. For the benefit of today we have some fantastic speakers who will talk you through some of the tools and resources that you can use in your workplace.
Mr Bannan: Thanks, Jane. As you can probably imagine by that short presentation and insight there it's quite a challenging area for everyone involved. What we know in terms of our exposure across the various industries is that the simplest and the cheapest effective tool is good communication, and really having that person-centred approach is important. We revised the way we looked at determining these claims based on the fact that we were very paper-driven and process-driven, as opposed to having a conversation with these people who were going through a very difficult time in their lives and, in actual fact, that actually improved our time frames for decision by actually going through that, as opposed to going through lots of paperwork. So the actual using this approach can actually assist in terms of outcomes, not just in terms of what you're doing to care for the person involved. So, thank you, Jane, that was great.
Indicators of a thriving workplace: Insights into the retail industry
Dr Nerida Joss, Insights and Impact Manager, SuperFriend
Mr Bannan: So, Nerida is the Insights & Impact Manager at SuperFriend, managing the strategic direction of the foundation's research and evaluation projects. She's completed a master of public health at Deakin University and a PhD from Monash University. Over the past 15 years, Nerida has worked in community, consulting, government and academic sectors. Before joining SuperFriend in December last year, she held positions at the University of Melbourne and Monash University, lecturing and conducting research for WorkSafe Victoria as well. In these roles, she published in academic literature on workplace health, safety and wellbeing, with a focus on translating research into practice. Nerida is passionate about the promotion of workplace mental health and believes that all Australian workers should have the opportunity to work in an environment that is not only safe, but also promotes wellbeing. So Nerida is going to present on indicators of a thriving workplace, insights into the retail industry. Please welcome Nerida.
Dr Joss: Good morning, everyone. Hopefully I will be able to do a good job with going between a microphone, a clicker, the resource that you have on your table and my notes, so bear with me. Thank you for having me. As Matt said, I'm the Insights & Impact Manager at SuperFriend and, really, that's focusing on research and evaluation for our foundation. Hot off the press you have a resource. So this, literally, was printed only a couple of weeks ago. It's our latest piece of research, and the third edition to what was our work in progress survey. We've had an update, which I'll talk you through with the methodology which has allowed us to have better insights, but some of you might be familiar with our work in progress survey in 2015/2016. Before I start, I might get a quick show of hands of how many people have heard of SuperFriend.
So maybe 50%. I'll give you a brief introduction to who we are. We're a national workplace mental health foundation and we are funded by all profit to member superannuation funds and their group insurers. We focus on the five in five. A lot of you will be familiar with talking about the one in five Australians who go to work and suffer from a mental health issue. Our approach is more on an environmental level, so we are focusing on everybody in the workplace and, really, the resources that we put together focus on that. I will have a quick shout out as well to two of our partner representatives down the back, Ben and Mark from REST Super. So thanks for coming along, guys.
All right. I've only got 30 minutes and I tend to over-speak, so I'll get going. What our survey does is it measures the current state of mental health and wellbeing in Australian workplaces against the desired state of optimal mental health and wellbeing in a workplace. In 2015 and 2016 we ran the survey with 1,000 workers across Australia. The sample framework is on the final two pages of the report. And when I joined SuperFriend, my research background, I said, "Let's see if we can increase the sample size to 5,000 because then we can dig in deep and get some industry specific insights," and that's enabled me to come here today and to talk about the retail industry, which is great.
So the survey is basically built around a 38 desired state indicator. I'm going to get you to open the book to page 6 and 7 and you'll see the 38 indicators listed there. So I'm going to do the same. This time around, before we ran the 5,000 sample, because we had some decent numbers, we were able to do some whiz bang analysis - something called a factor analysis - which enabled us to drill down to those 38 indicators, rather than being a bit of a laundry list, to four key factors, and what it does is it helps you understand what are the four kind of main areas of workplace mental health and wellbeing that we can focus on. You'll see 12 of those 38 indicators are based on leadership, nine are policies and practices, 11 is capability and culture and six of those indicators are based around connectedness.
So some of those indicators are pretty straight forward. I'm going to draw your attention to connectedness on page 6, down the bottom, number 13. "People greet each other in the morning, smile, make eye contact and say thank you. It's common courtesy." Some of these indictors don't cost any money. It's just about changing the culture and being friendly to each other, and we know that civility in the workplace is a really important component of changing culture. So just being friendly to each other can improve the mental health and wellbeing of your workforce, and this is evidence-based and it doesn't cost any money.
Some of the other things might cost some money. If you look down in policies and practices, there's access to confidential external support services, such as employee assistance programs, which was discussed before in the little breakout session, so I'm going to encourage you to take these reports home, put them on your bedside table and before you go to sleep at night have a look through and think about how these indicators apply to your workplace. Some of them might be in place currently and there might be other indicators that you think, okay, this is something that we're interested in doing, and have a go at working towards implementing them. So these are all evidence-based indictors.
All right. So the retail sampler said that we surveyed 5,000 workers. Of that sample, 637 workers identified themselves from the retail industry. That's about, I think, 12/13% of the overall population, so a decent size, and from a statistical level 637 is a really good number to feel confident that we can start generalising around some of these results. What you'll notice here is that - and, again, the sample framework and sample information is at the back of the report - we have a slightly more female population within the retail sector and, not surprisingly probably, as you can see, the national in the red versus the retail sector in the green, a slightly younger sample as well. But a good spread overall. Not huge differences until you maybe come to small organisations, so slightly less. We're at 30% for the retail versus 46 on national. So those were the groups, 637 workers that completed the survey.
Are we there yet? I talked about the fact that this survey measures, using the 38 indictors, the current state versus the desired state and the desired state of those indictors, those 38 indicators. What you'll see is the retail sector is pretty much halfway there. Down the back it's probably a little bit hard to see, so I'm going to draw your attention to pages 14 and 15. So that shows the national results, and you can see that comparatively, retail is just slightly below that national progress. So nationally we're looking at an overall score of 55. This is out of 100, so it's easy to conceptualise. It's not percentages, but it's out of 100, so halfway there at 53. One of the other things that I wanted to note was workers are rating themselves or rating their workplaces, rather, as more progressed as far as the leadership indicators and the connectedness indictors, less so with the policies and practices and capabilities and culture. So something to bear in mind, we need to get into some more data analysis and as a qualitative researcher by training, I would like to then go out and find out from workers whether we can find out what's happening there. But I would hazard a guess from what we do know that the capabilities and culture and the policies and practices are harder to build up because it's resources, it's time and it's about that focus on strategically making sure that your workplace improves its mental health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, we're still sitting at 59 for connectedness and 59 for leadership, so there's still a way to go for all areas to promote mental health and wellbeing.
So what else can we see? With the 38 indicators, we asked 24 additional contextual questions from the respondent and here are some of those statistics. So exactly with the national average, staff turnover, one in two workers in the retail sector or retail industry would look for another job if they worked in a workplace with poor mental health or a poor mental health environment, and two in five have reported leaving a job because of a poor workplace mental health environment. What does that tell us? I think that tells us that across Australia, workplace mental health is on the radar, that workers are now seeing that they want their employer to do more to keep them happy and healthy and productive in the workplace, otherwise they're going to look elsewhere. One in three are experiencing ongoing levels of stress in their current job, and about one in three reported working with someone with mental health issues in their workplace. So these are some pretty compelling statistics to show that Australian workers are now identifying workplace mental health issues and looking for solutions, which we'll see in the next couple of slides.
So supporting some of the stats from the room that Matt presented earlier on, what is preventing employers from taking action, I'll draw your attention to page 10 and 11. So the next two slides that I'm going to talk about, the national average is presented in your booklet, and I've done a scribble on my notes so that I've got both retail and the national average. Down the back you will not be able to read this, that's why it's useful to have the book in front of you. So the first one, 46% believe that employers have a lack of understanding around mental health and wellbeing issues, national average is sitting at 49, so fairly similar. 41% believe employers focus more on physical health in OH&S than mental health. Retail sector is at 41, national at 44. I'm not going to go through every single one here but, interestingly, 29% believe employers don’t know where to start to improve mental health and wellbeing. From our survey, national average 34. So there's a little bit of a difference there. So we're looking for lower numbers in these barriers. Obviously you don't want the barriers to be up around the 50, 60, 70%, you're wanting to get them as low as possible.
And down the bottom, believing in culture of compliance prevents employers from taking action because they only do what they have to do. Retail is saying 24% and, nationally, we're looking at 28%. Is anyone, when they're looking at this, seeing statistics that are different from what they expected? Shocking? Unusual?
Audience: Sorry, Nerida, can you just confirm the smaller the number, the better it is?
Dr Joss: Yes, because they're barriers.
Audience: I would suggest the employers don't have enough time and everyone is too busy surprises me.
Dr Joss: Yes.
Audience: In retail we say there's never enough time for anything. The managers are strung out doing work as well, so I am actually really surprised by that number.
Dr Joss: Okay. So the comment was, for those of you at the back, Keith was saying he's surprised at the number around 32% believe employers don't have enough time and everyone is too busy. So let's look at the positive. What are the benefits of investing in workplace mental health and wellbeing? So up on the screen here we have retail. 59% believe it would improve productivity, 53 believe it would reduce absenteeism, 55 believe that it would improve staff retention. So these scores are more than one in two workers. 46 believe it would reduce compensation claims and associated costs and just over one in three believe it would provide employers with the ability to attract and recruit new employees.
So, again, I think what this is telling us is that workers really believe that there is a business case to invest in workplace mental health and wellbeing. I like the fact that nearly two in three workers are saying that they believe it would improve productivity. We talk about it, there's some literature around it, but the fact that Australian workers and retail workers are now saying that this definitely is the case, two in three, it's a nice number, it's a nice proportion.
So this is a bit of a candy slide with the colours. I'll talk you through it and, really, what the key messages are, but I wanted to break down the retail progress towards the desired state by business size. Up the top in the red are small workplaces, that's 2 to 19 employees, the purple is medium, 20 to 199 employees, and large is in the green, the line, is 200 or more employees. So what we're seeing with these, quite clearly, the trend is that respondents that identified working in a small organisation were more favourable in the way that they ranked the indictors than those in medium and, certainly, those in large. So the smaller the sized organisation that you work in, the more positive you are, essentially, about your workplace mental health and wellbeing.
So I want you to mull that over around what that means for you in your role and then what it means probably for the rest of the industry around focusing efforts and resources and what that looks like. We still see the trends here that leadership and connectedness are rated higher than policies and practices and connectedness, and we're sitting, still overall, at that halfway mark, but respondents from small organisations out of 100 rated the overall progression towards a desired state at 56, medium at 51 and large at 52. So there is a slight difference, but we see the greatest with leadership and connectedness, that drop from a small organisation once you move into a medium or a large sized organisation. And it makes sense. Sometimes in a small organisation - at SuperFriend there's only 20 of us - that level of connectedness is easier, much easier for us to achieve than when I was, say, working at Monash University or University of Melbourne, huge organisations. So if you're ranking it - and this is another thing to think about - ranking your team versus the next level of your business unit. So, for me, it would have been our school, and then the faculty that I worked in and then the organisation. Obviously, that level of connectedness is going to perceptually reduce, so just something to think about when we're analysing and looking at the numbers.
The other thing I wanted to show you is retail progress towards a desired state by work role, so owner in the red, manager in the purple and employee in the lime. So if you're running the business, you're pretty happy with what's going on in your workplace. Those rose coloured glasses, everything is fine. Once you move down the pecking order, things don't look so rosy anymore. So, again, this is something that I think we need to consider. When we're trying to understand the level of mental health and wellbeing in our workplace, we need to ask everyone. If you're asking the business owner or you're seeing your leadership team, you're going to get a more positive result than you are if you go and ask your employees. So all those surveys that we do asking people about what they want, what activities they want to run, what policies they might want to be put in place, making sure that everyone is represented. If you create a health and wellbeing committee, a health, safety and wellbeing committee, making sure that you have representation across the organisation, otherwise you're not going to get an accurate picture of what's going on in your organisation. So, really important, I think sometimes we know this, we read it in the literature, but do we actually put it in place? Are we making sure that committees that we have set up in our organisation are representative of our workforce?
At the end of our survey - and this was quite amazing, actually, for me as a qualitative researcher - we asked one open ended question to give feedback. Of the 5,017 respondents that completed the survey, 11% provided some form of feedback. 11% of 5,017 is a lot. I'll let you do the math, but we're looking at over 500 respondents. Half of those were people saying, "Thank you, this survey was great. This is such an important issue. It's really good that there's an organisation out there doing something about this." So workers are realising - again, I keep on going back to that point - workers are realising that something needs to be done and that mental health in the workplace is really important.
And then there were the other half of respondents who provided feedback giving specific examples about their own workplace, and these have come from respondents who identified themselves from the retail industry. So up in the red, "I've recently left a major retail employer because of the effect it was having on my mental health. They had no concern for mental health issues and, in fact, their policies and behaviours exacerbated these issues." In the green, "Executive staff should encourage employees." So that senior leadership buy-in and walking the talk is really important. Down the bottom, "Listening is the hardest thing for managers." And then, finally, "I've worked for previous companies where stress levels were ridiculously high and, as a result, I think I was technically mentally ill, which has left a lasting impact on my life. If the counselling available in my current work environment had been available, I think it would have made a difference." So just some interesting feedback there from the respondents from the survey that I wanted to share with you. Now, I don't know how we're going for time.
Mr Bannan: You're okay.
Dr Joss: Great. So today you have a copy to take back to work with you. I also want to let you know that at the end of the session we'll also be handing out - is that right - I'm getting a nod from Deborah at the back - our Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Workplace Guidelines for Organisations. This is one of our other resources that is probably our most popular resource to date. These are guidelines for a mentally healthy workplace, but promoting the positive. So I would encourage you also to take these back to your office and have a good look through them because they provide some really good suggestions. What I did when I wrote this report is I mapped out with the statistics - so it just wasn't a report with a bunch of statistics, trying to get that knowledge translation in - I mapped out the relevant actions from this Promoting the Positive Guidelines booklet to give suggested actions to create a thriving workplace. So these guidelines have been put together by some academics at Deakin University and the University of Melbourne so, again, evidence-based. If you're trying to create that business case in your organisation, this is a document that can support you to have that conversation with senior leadership to try and bring about some positive changes in your organisation.
So you've got a hard copy, but if you're looking for more copies and you want to send it around to other workers in your workplace to have a look at, to have a read, please do go to our website, so superfriend.com.au and you can find it at /indictors-thriving-workplace, but if you just go to our website - it's a pretty nice website that's easy to navigate - so you can go to our resources and it will be listed there, along with the orange book, our Promoting Positive Guidelines if you wanted more copies of those as well.
Mentally Healthy Workplaces Toolkit
Aislin Harper, Principal Advisor Leadership and Culture,
Office of Industrial Relations
Mr Bannan: We'll move on to our next presenter. I'd like to introduce Aislin Harper, a registered psychologist and Principal Advisor within the Leadership and Culture team at Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. Aislin's current role involves working with industry in the areas of mentally healthy workplaces, leadership and culture to build capability and develop practical tools and resources. Aislin's interest in employee mental health began when she ran two research programs examining work design strategies to minimise stress for employees. Since that time, Aislin has worked across public and private sector in developing leadership programs, assessing safety culture and designing employee health and wellbeing programs. She's going to share today the new Mentally Healthy Workplaces toolkit that OIR released just recently in Safe Work Month. Please welcome Aislin.
Ms Harper: Thank you, Matt. As Matt sort of said, my name is Aislin Harper. I work in the leadership and culture team in Workplace Health and Safety, and we've just released this new resource. So the resource I'm going to talk about today is the Mentally Healthy Workplaces toolkit. Now, this is the first resource of its kind from an Australian safety regulator in terms of a holistic mental health resource. So it's really exciting to be able to share that with you today. And before I get started as well, I will just apologise in advance if anyone does get a bit of motion sickness during my presentation. I did have my colleague, Caroline, provide some feedback last month before I did this presentation that it did make her feel a little sick, so apologies in advance.
So before I get started, I wanted to share a couple of different statistics with you that have really provided the impetus for why we've developed this new resource. Now, I know we've sort of heard a number of different statistics already today, and these pretty well align with what we have heard. So the first one is that 91% of employees believe that mental health in the workplace is a really important issue, but just over half of employees believe that their workplaces are still mentally unhealthy, 56% of employees believe their senior leaders value mental health, and 35% of employees don't know about their mental health resources or can't access them. And one of the polling results that Matt shared with us earlier, as well, from the poll that you completed yesterday is that one of the barriers that people had to implementing mental health programs was a lack of resources. So, again, this really highlights why we've developed this new resource that I'm going to share with you today.
So, a bit about the toolkit before we sort of take a bit of a walk through it. So, really, we recognised when we were starting out on this project that there's so many different resources that are already out there, and there's some really fantastic ones as well. So we didn't really want to go and reinvent the wheel again and develop a whole bunch of new resources. Our goal was really just to work through what's out there and work out what are the best practice, what's evidence-based and put that in a centralised hub of resources so that industry can know what has the regulator's tick of approval in terms of good resources in creating a mentally healthy workplace. It's an interactive PDF design, so it's easy to use and adopt and there's no reason that you have to do everything in the toolkit. You can pick and choose what's relevant to your workplace and it's available for free, sort of best of all, I suppose, it doesn't cost anything to use.
When we talk about a mentally healthy workplace, what does that actually mean? I will talk about that in a little bit at the moment. This is the front cover of the toolkit. So it covers six kind of key sections, mentally healthy workplaces, which is a bit of an introduction to what they are, some of the benefits, promote positive practices, protect from psychological harm, support recovery. There's also a section for small business, so recognising that small businesses may not have the same infrastructure or resources available to them, so what are some things that they can do in creating mentally healthy workplaces, and then there's an additional resources section. Throughout the toolkit there's various videos, checklists, case studies that are denoted by the different icons that you can see up the top there.
So what is a mentally healthy workplace? The first part of the toolkit, as I mentioned, just provides a bit of an overview. It's probably a bit hard to see, but the model that's on the right there is a three part model that we use, so it's the promote, protect, support model and this really structures the toolkit contents throughout. We also talk about, in this section, some of the benefits of mentally healthy workplaces and some of the legislative requirements as well in terms of mental health risks in the workplace. So, as we know, employers have to manage the psychological risks in the workplace, as well as the physical risks as well.
As I mentioned, the sort of second main section is about promote positive practices, so we'll just have a little bit of a look through that section and what sorts of tools and resources you will find. It's sort of got six key topic areas in this particular section, which all focus on creating a supportive culture, really. The first one is about showing that leadership commitment to a mentally healthy workplace. So there's some different strategies for how you might be able to get your senior leadership team onboard with creating a mentally healthy workplace. We link to a tool that will be able to calculate the return on investment of a mentally healthy workplace, which I think Jane spoke about before, the PWC paper, which has actually build into an interactive calculator that can work out for your specific industry and business size what is the return on investment.
And another thing, as well, that I think was raised in the poll is that something that people are really looking for are training opportunities in the mental health space. So there's a free e-learning module here that's available that you can send out to your workforce that educates them in managing the risks in mental health, so that's just another strategy as well. Once you have that leadership commitment how can your leaders actually demonstrate that commitment, and one of those drivers would be self-educating themselves, so they're, I suppose, walking the talk. There's some other things that are listed there as well which we won't go into at the moment, just in the instance of time.
The second one, again, is around leadership, but this is about the capabilities that you actually need across your leaders and managers for those who can create mentally healthy workplaces. So over in the UK, there's a competency framework that's been developed, and there's a self-assessment tool. So this can either be done as a self-assessment or also a 360 degree tool whereby your peers or direct reports or colleagues can rate yourself or your manager and it will assess you across these different competencies. It will then give you a report that shows your strength and development areas across those different competencies. It's completely free. And then we provide a series of different activities that you can then work through a workbook to improve those areas of development that you identify through that self-assessment.
The third one is about implementing policies that support psychological safety. So, here, we provide a bit of a template for a psychological safety policy that you can integrate into your existing health and safety policies. We also provide some information around flexible work arrangements, so if you don't have a flexible work arrangements policy in your organisation, how you might go about developing one and implementing one, if that suits your business. Practice respectful and dignified workplace interactions. So, again, that goes back to what Nerida was saying with regards to people saying hello to each other and thank you in the morning, so creating that really positive culture. So there's just some different activities that you can do, more from a team building perspective as to how we really acknowledge one another in our team and the contributions that we bring. Encouraging honest and effective communication and consultation, so just some really kind of strategies and tips that you can use here in improving that across your business.
And, finally, in this section is about building organisational awareness. So, here, we talk about some different resources and materials that you can provide for your staffrooms or on your intranet websites, some posters you can display around the workplace in common areas and also some free e-learning modules as well that you can distribute to staff to complete in building that organisational awareness and capability.
The second section, which is probably the largest section in the toolkit is around protecting from psychological harm. So this is really around that work design component and assessing risk. Here, we sort of start off talking about the different psychosocial risk factors that are evident and just a bit of an introduction and information to those, so some work demands, low job control. We also talk about bullying here and we link to some information for managing and preventing bullying in the workplace. There's a new resource here that has been developed about what these risk factors actually look like in different industries. So there is one on the retail sector that will just give you some more kind of valid or reliable information for what these factors could look like in your business.
We've got our risk management model, so we just provide some different resources across this different four-step process. The first one is around identifying hazards. So we sort of take you through the model. Some of the resources that are available here is a resource to help you examine your workplace data and metrics to help you indicate when there might be a possible risk factor at play, so how do you look at your EAP utilisation rate if you do have an EAP program, how do you look at your absenteeism rates, how do you look at different trends in your staff surveys or grievances or complaints that you might receive from employees, your workers' comp data, how do I actually use those datas to better understand what's going on in my workplace.
The second is actually assessing and prioritising risks in your workplace. So there's a couple of different resources here. The first one is the People at Work survey. This is a survey tool which assesses psychosocial risks, which I'll touch on a little bit more at the end of the presentation, which has got a bit further detail on that. There's a new resource here which is a psychosocial risk assessment. This is more of a checklist style where you'll go through and kind of tick and flick whether or not different things might be an issue in your workplace. This is probably better suited to a small workplace. With People at Work you do need 20 or more people, so if you're wanting to do it at a shop level, the checklist might be a better approach in doing that. And we've also got a focus group guide. Focus groups are a really good way to be able to ask your workforce what's actually going on for them.
Step 3, controlling your risk. Once you've identified them we provide some different ideas for different control strategies that you might be able to use to combat those risks. Also in this section is some things around that early intervention piece. So we provide a bit of a checklist of things that you might notice in your colleagues or others in your workplace when they might be struggling and some things to help you prompt that conversation before a psychological injury actually occurs. There's also a conversation guide. So we use the "Are You Okay" framework and sort of there's a bit of a video as well to help you give that confidence to be able to have that conversation.
We also talk about EAP programs. A lot of large businesses might already have them, so we provide a tool to be able to - how do you make the best use of those programs if you do have it, how do you evaluate them to ensure that they're giving you the outcomes that you need, and if you don't have them, how do I go about finding one and selecting one and what are available out there? We also talk about workplace adjustments. When I talk about workplace adjustments what I mean is before an injury actually occurs how do I kind of better design that work to prevent someone undergoing a psychological injury, so that more proactive workplace adjustment. A peer support program. So peer support programs are a really good resource for, I suppose, workers helping other workers. So you might have a series of people trained in your workplace to be able to detect the signs of distress, have a conversation and refer that person on to appropriate professional help. It's just a really powerful thing if people don't feel comfortable going to their manager or supervisor. So it's a bit of a resource for how do I implement that in my workplace. And, finally, workplace trauma. So in the retail sector this can be something that does happen in terms of it you do have a robbery or an occupational violence incident, there's some guidelines here for how do I manage that and what is best practice in responding to that.
The final section in the main sort of body of the toolkit is supporting recovery from psychological harm. So this is a relatively brief section, as we recognise that WorkCover has some fantastic resources, and a lot of others have some resources out there, but we talk about why getting back to work is so important as quickly as possible in this space. We also talk about some of those tips for communicating with your injured workers and how you make them feel like they're still a part of the workplace. And we provide a series of different tools to assist you more generally in this process, so there's heaps of stuff that is out there already. Something we talk about here as well is empowering workers using a strength-based approach. So there's a couple of different tips here for how you can use this to make it a really positive return to work experience and recover that worker as quickly as possible.
The last little section is around a resource for small business. It's basically five tips that small businesses can use in creating a mentally healthy workplace. So we recognise that they may not have the same resources that a medium or large business might have, so the tips really centre around promoting and modelling self-care, which doesn't necessarily cost any money, self-education as a business owner, training yourself to recognise the signs in your workforce, supporting workers when they need it and also staying in touch with anyone who is unwell. There's also some additional resources down the bottom.
So in terms of we've got this toolkit, how do we actually use it? There's no real right or wrong way for how you might go about using the toolkit. It really depends on your business, so there's no need to work sequentially through the toolkit. You might like to pick and choose a couple of different initiatives throughout the toolkit that you think might best suit your business environment and your resources available. The important thing, really, here is about when you are planning for these new initiatives or programs to involve your workforce in the planning as well. They're going to be more committed to it and it's more likely to be successful if they are involved. If you are short on time or don't necessarily have a lot of resources, the small business resource can be a really good starting point for you, just in terms of a baseline or some simple things that you can implement.
I'm just going to skip that one, sorry. As I mentioned, talking about a couple of the other resources that we do have available to help you, we've got these things called the psychosocial hazard tip sheets or stress tip sheets. They'll basically take you through the different psychosocial hazards, so job demands, job control, et cetera, and give you a bit of an overview about them in more detail than the toolkit and then provides some different strategies that you can use to implement. So they're available on our website under the 'Mental Health At Work' section.
People at work. So I mentioned I'd touch on that in a bit more detail. So this was a research project that occurred in partnership across some universities, which actually validated and a measure of psychosocial hazards. So it's basically a survey tool that you can implement across your workforce, across the different psychosocial hazards, and then there's some benchmarks that are provided to enable you to compare yourself and how you're performing against other Australian organisations. So those benchmarks consist of over 10,000 employees across, I think, 78 different workplaces. So it's just a powerful tool to be able to see how you're tracking, and then once you have your results there's a series of different resources to help you actually action plan and follow up those results with different interventions. You also don't need to know how to do any data analysis or anything like that, so if you're worried about that there is a spreadsheet that will enable you to do all the data analysis automatically. All you need to know how to do is copy and paste into an Excel spreadsheet.
We also have a Young Worker Safety toolkit. So this might be something that's particularly relevant in the retail sector, which does have a lot of young workers. So there's some different information, films, presentation templates, training material that you can use in how you best target young workers in the workplace.
We also have another brand new resource 'LEADing for Frontline Safety'. So this is a self-paced workbook that's been developed in terms of those key safety and leadership skills of frontline supervisors and managers, and we will be doing some face to face workshops in 2018 that will cover a lot of the topics in this workbook as well. So if you do want to know more about that, just keep an eye on our website.
The Reject Shop case study
Billie Reynolds, Safety Advisor (Qld), and
Keith Govias, National Workplace Health and Safety Manager,
The Reject Shop
Mr Bannan: I'd like to introduce Keith Govias, who is the National Safety Manager at The Reject Shop, and he has 10 years of experience working in retail and manufacturing and safety. He's worked with the Retailers Association as a member of their safety working groups looking at industry safety and policy advocacy. Having represented brand names such as Myer, Harris Scarfe and Mondelez, Keith has significant experience related to aging and young workforces and also perspective from the supplier side of the fence. In his current position, he is responsible for the health and safety of 353 stores, three distribution centres and a partridge in a pear tree.
Billie Reynolds is going to join him up here, is one of the two safety advisors at The Reject Shop and has been working with the retail side of the business for over three years. Prior to that, Billie worked at the distribution centre as a senior manager, with safety as a key component of her position there. Billie is responsible for [inaudible] safety in 115 Reject Shops over four states. She started in warehousing logistics in 1990, working from the ground up, so she's got real operational knowledge. She worked in many industries, such as food manufacturing, pet supplies, printing, transport, plastics and, finally, discount retail. She's completed many tasks in her lifetime that have exposed her to situations where her personal mental stability was sometimes tested and has learned many things from those experiences. During her time in retail exposes some of the shocking human situations and what people are or can be capable of. She's a part-time trainer/mentor, part-time film director - that's interesting - part-time troubleshooter and all around general great safety professional within the business, and she was even nominated for SafeWork NSW awards. So I'd like to welcome Keith and Billie up.
Ms Reynolds: So a little bit about our company. Obviously I'm hoping everyone here knows what The Reject Shop is. That seems to be a common thing when I go places that people don't really know about us, but we are quite a large company in discount retail. We are in every state, in [Queensland], except for Northern Territory, but watch this space, so we will be there soon and over our time we have ended up opening 350 stores and there's actually more stores now, I believe 353 was the number we got. So we are up to quite a lot of stores that we do look after individually and the key number we did want to point out is that in a short time of 18 months we did open over 100 stores. So that's quite a lot of stores in the retail industry to be opening and trying to look at all the different factors we've got, and that was right across the country.
Also some other key points, just in regards to our company is that we have over 5,500 team members working in our retail environment alone itself and about 65% of those retail team members are under 24. And a lot of those team members, we've recently found out, are also in levels of management. So we do have quite a lot of young workers who are looking after other young workers, or looking after senior workers as well. So it's quite a diverse culture we're dealing with and everything is different in every single store we go to. So I'll hand over to Keith.
Mr Govias: If you click for me.
Ms Reynolds: I can click for you.
Mr Govias: There we go. See, team work, this is what I like, managing for team work. I think before I go any further, given that we're primarily all retailers in the room, there's the retail disclaimer, this is our journey. So not all of it may be applicable to you, but we're hoping, really, that out of some examples we talk about today, you can pick up some practical examples that will help you in your organisation. And if you want to talk, we're happy to bounce ideas, we're always learning. So I think our first starting point is what did worker safety mean to us and, especially, I think, for us as an organisation, what did workplace mental health and mental health safety mean to us? So we sort of distilled it down to these five categories. We talk about our workplace, I think, like a lot of you in the room as being family oriented. You end up working really, really closely together and in our particular case we've seen generations of the same family work in some of our stores or work progressively through the organisation to build themselves up. So being able to look after your people takes on a really personal perspective and, for us, that family orientation is exceptionally important.
Secondly, you can't distil safety from being just about an individual, I think we've heard conversations about looking after the five in the five, it's really about if you look after the one, you're looking after the whole lot of them. So, for us, it became about an extension. Where we're talking about workplace health and safety it was about our culture. The way that one person may be impacted can impact the culture, especially as I go to my point before where it's all about the family and the family in the workplace. So where we wanted to try and improve the conditions, the key people sustained in the workplace and keep them being healthy, even from a mental perspective, we see it as being a big improvement. The next three points talk to cost. It's not something that we really want to talk about, but at the end of the day sometimes in our business cost is a huge driver. So presenteeism, in terms of people actually being in the workplace, but not being productive because they've got other things on their mind, for us, that became a big factor. We're starting to actually look at measures for absenteeism rates, turnover, et cetera, but presenteeism is something that many businesses are starting to explore now. We also talk to workers' comp claims. I'm not sure how many of you have workers' comp claims. I think we talked about secondary psychosocial conditions that creep in where complexity is there. You have relationships that are forged that break down within the workplace that create other barriers. So for those of us that are injury managers or injury advisors, when you're trying to build a really simple return to work plan and then suddenly there are all of these other issues that creep up because mental health factors are at play, those became important for us as well.
And, finally, there's non-work related injury and absence management. So I think from some of the speakers you've heard from earlier on today, we talk about it being holistic. Everything that we do within our business is about the worker, but what the worker takes away with them out of the workplace and what they bring from out of the workplace back in, is going to impact us. So these are the reasons that our workers' mental health was important to us and why we thought we'd do something about it.
Ms Reynolds: So one thing that we did recently was we looked at the causes of mental health risk in our retail settings and, once again, being retail, and so some of these you may be familiar with, one of the big key factors we have, and it's especially at this time of year, is the different kinds of abuse or assault that we can get from our external offenders. So I'm sure everyone in this room has started hearing Christmas carols already in store - fantastic, yeah. Okay, a bit mixed. We started playing our Christmas carols in store last Thursday. A little behind some of the supermarket retailers, but obviously at this time of year there's a lot more pressure on the general public, there's a lot more pressure on people in our stores as well, which kind of produce more lines of stock, as well as make sure that everything is there and in a nice safe environment, so the mental pressure is definitely there at this time of year. But also leading on from that, as well, is the potential for verbal or physical abuse between team members, and whether that be at work or at home. So something that's not always considered is something could be happening at home that people then bring with them to work.
Something else we looked at is along the lines of the pressures and demands. So we often ask our people in retail to work that little bit extra harder this time of year to make sure that you smile that little bit more often, and it can take a real physical and mental toll on people because they're just not used to it. So sometimes when you're bringing those new people in at this of year, we have to really be extra vigilant and look out for those people as well. And the last thing that we also looked at in regards to causes of mental health risk in our retail settings was our non-work related illnesses and injuries, and sometimes you have those short term things that are going on, but also sometimes you have the long term, and it's how can we get that open environment so that people are actually starting to talk about it so that we can help them to help us as a business as well. And as we've mentioned earlier in the workshop, it's sometimes often about that equal communication and people feeling comfortable coming to their line manager or coming to another team member that they're working with and saying, "Hey, I've got this issue, do you know what I can do about it, is there someone I can go and talk to?" So we really looked hard into what are the four key factors that could potentially cause that mental health risk.
Mr Govias: Starting to get into the swing of this now. I think what Billie has talked to is us internally. So, as a business, we actually looked at what we felt our factors were. So, organically, how do we feel in our stomach, just what we're seeing coming through generally, but something that we also tapped into were other sources of information that could help us. So we talked to our key provider about usage reports. We actually started to distil with them what are people using it for, and what does that tell us and how does that then drive for us whether there are other support programs we can put into place or any services that we can connect them with. But you're already paying for the service if you've got it. Talk to your account manager about how you can get more information. And the regulator, it was really great to see some of the resources put up. Where have you been all my life? I think, for us, tapping into the information, not only put up by Queensland, but by other regulators, there are some best practice content there, there's some research, really good research that's out there. You just have to dig a little bit deeper to get into contact with it.
WorkCover Queensland, speak to your claims advisor. Ask how you are, as a company, against other people in the industry. They work within a stream where they can see everyone within the industry. So they can actually share some of that data with you. It'll be de-identified, but it gives you a chance to benchmark. Are you travelling well, are you progressing more badly, is there something else that you could be doing or is there an emerging threat you need to think about? The Retailers Association, I know in my introduction it was pointed out that I've worked with some safety groups but, you know what, we're actually a large block as an industry. The question is whether we, as professionals, choose to talk to one another. A lot of the issues that we have are quite similar, so use today and get business cards, get email addresses, I'm sure we can post together, but try and make connections and talk to each other because what you experience in your environment is probably similar to maybe two or three of everyone else in the room.
And I think the final two slides - two images, rather, we looked at our instant data. We critically looked at our instant data but, more importantly, we actually talked to people because we went out there as a safety team and we talked to our managers, we talked to our workers, we talked to other people within the business, including our leaders. We said how do you feel? Do you feel comfortable? Can you sleep at night? Are you a bit worried? Because some of the instant reports weren't instilling a lot of confidence in me, but there is a lot of data that's out there that can form your opinion on your mental health strategy.
Ms Reynolds: So what did we actually do as a retailer individually to get us to the position where we are now where we can better assist our team out there in the retail environment with a mental health program? The first thing that we did was we looked at what policies we currently have and we really delved hard into what paperwork we have out there, how much information is actually on a wall, is there too much information? Sometimes it's a wall of words and sometimes people can't find that information because it's just too busy and too hard to go look at that wall, so making the information a lot more accessible to the everyday person in the store. So giving them things like access to apps that they could use, we have an intranet system as well, but also looking at how we can produce messages, ongoing, to make sure that everyone is up to date with the policies. But, really, first and foremost, we had to make sure that the policy we had, itself, actually provided that information and gave us the ground work and the guidance of where we can go as senior leaders to help everyone else.
The next thing we did was, by looking at those policies and what information we had out there, we really did identify what problems and gaps we had. So, as I mentioned, we realised that in our storerooms, in our tearooms, we just had too much noise going on on the wall and that was when we found out that people really couldn't find this information, even though they figured it was probably out there and they thought they could maybe talk to HR about something, they didn't really know what was actually out there. So once we identified those gaps, we were looking for things like our internal pulse surveys, we also reviewed a lot of those incident reports we had and, as Keith mentioned, we really looked into it whether or not we had the right information coming through. So we were getting a lot of bumps and scrapes and sprains and strains, as you would expect, but were people reporting things like aggravated assaults, were they reporting loss prevention incidents where there were thefts or where they were exposed to, say, families coming in and having their own internal argument in our stores? So where they reporting those as well, and they weren't, so we identified that.
Another great thing that we did, which is a little bit of self-promotion here, is we did the Young Worker Toolkit recently within our business and we ran that through our retail stores and that really helped us identify some key areas of where our young workers were and even how many there were, but also helped us identify areas we could help them that they had identified and we expanded a little bit on that as well and went back to the young workers themselves and really asked for their feedback too.
Once we'd done that, we then managed to address that threatening behaviour. So work out where we could help out, and that was in the form, as mentioned, we started doing some team talks and we really identified there's a better way of interacting with people within our own internal business. So, rather than the old bit of paper that we email someone and say, "Can you have a bit of a read, sign it, say you know what it is," we actually started developing a program where we ran some short videos and these were homemade videos, they're pretty B-grade quality, they're definitely not on the aspiring - aspiring quality, thank you. It's great when my boss gives me a bit of a - so we ran these videos and they're really aimed at the real person in the retail environment. It's a bit of a serious message with a bit of a silly off side, but we found that the messages that we were giving out to people were a lot more useful and they definitely retained the information. But it gave them a way of just watching a quick, funny video with a serious message with some questions, rather than reading that bit of paper and expecting them to understand what it is because oftentimes we also rely on somebody to tell you what that bit of papers says, but how do we know they know what it means?
The fourth thing that we did was when we expanded on that training as well, was we identified the need to have individual occupational violence training for our select and key areas. So we looked into it a bit more and we found some pockets and some states that really needed that extra training and we rolled out an internal program on how to deal with occupational violence and we found that the results from that gave people a lot more confidence in themselves to be able to be in that environment and know that they had the help there when they needed it and know who to come to and who to talk to, and how to report, was a really big thing as well.
Mr Govias: The other thing we did was we stole the image so, apologies, not everything is threatening behaviour. Building on from that, some of the other activity that we rolled out - I'm sorry if I'm standing in front of the presentation - as Billie has talked to, we looked at streams of training. Now some of it is about e-learning modules to reach out to the masses and to make sure we connect with them. We also - and I think from my discussion in the centre row before - we talked about training which is really aimed at coaching and leadership for managers, but we need some of that to be face to face, but it was about making sure that everything we had from within the business that was building better capability for the business itself also touched on can we give you the skills to build a healthier workplace? You know what, safety is really great when you're not doing it separately to your business, it just becomes part of what you do. So I have to call out, the other safety advisor that's in my team is Ken over here. He's a good sport in terms of turning up in some of our training videos, but we actually have tried, where possible, to use our own people, to use our own shop environments, to try and make it as accessible to team members consuming information as possible. And something that we did do, we've had an EAP program for a couple of years, but what we found in talking to our EAP provider was that it wasn't really well-used and it wasn't really well-used when he benchmarked us against the rest of the industry and what the expectations would be for usage.
So we reached out to people, started talking to them. Do you know what the EAP program is? Do you know what EAP is? Employee Assistance Program, access to counsellors, et cetera. So starting a conversation around what is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) was a big start. Actually talking to people about the fact that it was their program, it was their data, it wasn't the businesses was also important, but then going to line managers and going, "This isn't a bandaid for workers. Do you realise there's a manager resource here? So if you're going to struggle with having a really safe conversation or if you've got someone who you know is at risk and who you know needs to access EAP, but they don't know how to ask for help, how about you call and you have a discussion, you tap into that for yourself and build up some confidence so you can sell it?" And we found that actually helped.
Now we're starting to diversify and we're looking at ways so, for example, if we talk about the workers' comp claims where there's reasonable management action and there's a perception about whether I'm being bullied and harassed, some of it is about what the expectations are, and at the end of an investigation, whether it's something found to be substantiated or it's a claim that's upheld, you still have those same people coming back into the workplace. So we're also using EAP to try and help us with mediation, trying to help us to get the landscape right so that people can build a positive working relationship to allow for sustainable return or stay at work. So, I think for us, we're starting to see a lot of improvement and probably the one other thing to call out there, which is not on the slide, is leadership. We actually have a high degree of leadership within our business, so every safety forum that we have where we can insert it into the business, we're talking about safety. So every week our senior leadership team get together, they talk about sales results, they talk about operational strategy, project updates, but they start off that meeting with what were the safety incidents from last week? What was the biggest issue, including some of these mental health issues that are coming through? For every business forum and business update that we have to the broader business, safety speaks before the managing director speaks. So we get it as part of the leadership culture, we force leaders to own it because they have to talk to it and we're trying to make it mainstream so that our leaders are the ones communicating it down, but they own it.
Ms Reynolds: Getting kind of weird. So some of the internal programs that we actually implemented was something called the Truck to Customer program and this was our first real go, I guess, at streamlining what was happening in our retail environment, both on the shop floor and back of house, as well as with our management. So some of the benefits to that were that we ended up with really better rostering systems. So we put in a program where we could help the teams and the managers work out how to really roster better for the work that was coming in, rather than just, "Oh, these guys work well together and those two do really well together and, oh, I haven't talked to that person in a while so I'll roster them on with me next week." So, rather than doing that, they really went back to the basics and looked at what is our need to have people onsite and how can we better utilise those people with those skills, but also then where are our gaps so that we can up-skill people to make them more accessible for more shifts during the week? So really helping the managers out there actually relieves some of that stress of, "I don't know if this person is going to be able to do the work for me and when am I ever going to find the time," and a lot of our management in our retail environment are on salary, and if there's anyone in the room who is on salary as well you know that you're supposed to work 40 hours, or whatever your hours are a week, but you probably work that little bit more occasionally or a little bit less where you can. The retail environment, they were doing exactly the same thing, so it really helped them to make sure that they had that work/life balance because one of the big, important things we wanted to make sure that they understood is that if they don't look after themselves how can we expect them to then look after somebody else? So if they're going through something, maybe they're going to be able to cope better if they have the resources behind them to then work with everyone else as well.
Some of the other things that the Truck to Customer program did was it put in place some really great behaviours and acts that everyone from the store manager level, right down to the casual who only works one shift a week, could really instil so that we had that great system of the family environment and everyone started working as a team, and that was really important to us because we wanted to make sure that everyone felt really comfortable in the store, but also so that we had the same standards across our stores, whether you went to one in regional Queensland or one down in Tassie, you should feel the same when you walk into that store.
Some other things that they also put in place was we had a communications board and that put in place our sales figures, but it also brought forward some good behaviours. So anytime something really great happened, someone would go and note it down. And it didn't have to be a manager who did it, it could be a team member who said, "Oh, I just had a really great comment from a customer and that made me feel really wonderful, so I'm going to put that positive information on there." And then everybody else saw it as well, so it spread that happy message through and made everyone realise that it was a happy environment to be in.
Now, one of the other things that we looked at when we were doing our mental health studies was we realised that the reporting system we had was also something that wasn't really that great. So it was a little bit antiquated, we'd asked the store to fill it out on a bit of paper, then they'd have to go on the computer and type it out there and then they'd have to send it to somebody so that they could approve it so that they could email them back to send it back to somebody else so that we could get it, then manually data enter it into a system so that we could run an Excel report and then send that out to somebody else so they could see what had happened. You need to breathe after that. So we realised that obviously we didn't have something in place, whereas a safety team, we could help the stores to monitor better. So we put in a system called WorkSafe Online, which is an internet-based system and anyone in our business can access it. It's very transparent and we can see it from all levels, anyone in the store can create an incident or hazard report, but it made the reporting a lot more open and accessible to everybody, and the great thing was it's instant notifications, the right people get told about the information and there's no chasing people, what had happened, can you send me that, can you attach this? So now we can see what's happening on a daily basis, but it's all real time around the whole country, and the great thing is now because it's real time we can actually compare and react to things in real time as well, rather than having that delayed system.
Another really great thing about the WorkSafe Online program is it allowed us to better monitor where our non-work related injuries were occurring. So in the old days it used to be the safety team handled anything that happened at work, and then anything that didn't happen at work, HR got, we didn't care about that bit. It only affected us if it suddenly became something at work. So, now, because it's one system we can actually have the vision ahead of time to be able to help people and know where things are happening, so if there are non-work related injuries occurring, we can better support the store team and have a better idea of what's going on within their environment. Whether it be just the store or the region, we can offer better support to our area managers, as well, who potentially have up to 14 stores. So that's quite a lot of people that they're dealing with on an individual basis. It means that we can then help them ahead of time and we have better visibility as well.
Mr Govias: I think it's almost the last handover. So I think probably just to round off what Billie is saying that Truck to Customer project, for us, touched every store. It changed the way that we did business altogether. It was massive organisational change and I think probably the one thing that I took away, being an observer from that program - because I'm sure many of you will go through disruptive business practices and start to change things up - is that we actually communicated a lot better. As a business, we put communication at the centre of that project and it was really about communicating with the final person in the supply chain, right down in the store, to make sure they understood what we were doing, why we were doing it, how the activity would impact them, but also if they did their part where they could understand why that part was so important, they could see themselves adding value to the business overall.
So that's a really key message for me from Billie's last slide. Just to round off, in terms of some of the content up here, I think you've heard from some of the other speakers today around policies and, for us, one of the things that we really went back to go and look at, like the EAP program, was are things like the flexible work arrangements policy really well-understood, not just by the workers, by the managers who could think to afford it when they were having discussions with workers, and we probably felt that we were a little bit off in terms of our managers understanding that that was a tool that was available to them to offer workers that were going through tough times, whatever the requirement might be. I know that with some of the EBA negotiations there are more and more EBAs that are also including domestic violence leave availability. So it's about making sure that your managers know that this is there. So as and when they have discussions or they can see things happening, they can actually offer it. So we did a lot of work on our policies, not only to update them, but to also make sure that we educated managers and team members on the appropriate use.
And, finally, this is a project that is currently underway for us, and why I think I asked yourself about the hazard toolkit was we are currently working with clinical psychologists and service providers to try and build a job dictionary. Now, we've got one for physical tasks, which we've built with a physiotherapist, but the missing link there is about the mental health requirements, the mental health demands of a task. So we're actually going to be working to update our job dictionary so it covers both the physical aspect and the mental aspect and we're going to use that to update our position descriptions, so when we go out to market and recruiting people in we can have an honest conversation with them about this is the job, warts and all, this is the job and the expectations. Now, it's not to force people out, but it's hopefully to start a conversation right at the recruitment phase where they can say, "I'm going to be an asset to your company, I'm going to be really great, but this bit here, I might need some help and support with this bit here." And if we can start that, we can actually build a state work plan right from the very beginning. We can then move to updating our work capacity checklists. So the resources that go with an injured worker to a doctor to actually ask the doctor, "What are the functional capacity requirements for this worker? What can the worker do and how can we use that information to keep them at work," but rather than just having physical demands, broadening it holistically. And, again, coming back to where someone has a physical injury to begin with, where those psychosocial factors come in later on, how can we make sure it's part of an open conversation the whole way through. So we're including it and it's going to be an end to end requirement, and the second phase of that, once we get that in train, is to actually build a training program that goes back to our line managers that says here is the identified psychosocial factors and hazards in our workplace, here is the way that they can manifest themselves, so think about Amy or Bob or whoever it is that you manage, do they react this way when you ask them to do this task, do they leave it to be the last thing because they sort of just can't focus on it, or do you feel frustrated because you can see them really not being able to listen to you and you have to go and repeat the same instructions to them again and again? Do you think that it's because they're struggling with some of these hazards and how can we improve your skill set to lead them to a better place, to lead them to a point where they are being productive, but they're also happy to contribute at work? So that's the last piece of the puzzle for us.
And I think that brings us to questions. So, in summation - are you happy for me to finish this off, Billie - yeah. In summation, a couple of things that we've done. Okay, it's not exhaustive, it's not everything, but realistically - and I think I met Deborah from SuperFriend probably a couple of years ago, and at one point in time she had sat down with me and she said, "You know what, we need to do a case study on you because you are--" and there was a pause. And I've gone, "Cheap." And she's gone, "No, no, no, no, no, you're really creative with the ways that you come--"
So I think that part of what we've tried to do, because we work for a low cost variety retailer, is to come up with ways that we can look at the things that are within our control. Now, as a safety team, we see the value of this. As a business, we see the on-value in terms of reducing compensation claims, increasing productivity, reducing presenteeism, that money can be re-invested back in. So what we're doing is unlocking some of the potential and value for our team and not all of it is easy, not all of it is something that's a quick fix. Some of it requires us to take on some additional load to build the business case or to walk leaders by the hand to the point to which they get to the well or to the promised land, but if you do it and you actually start that by having a conversation and making it safe to have a conversation in the workplace, you can get some really, really great results. So we've been really happy and proud to come and speak to you today about our journey and we're definitely here for contact afterwards if you want to talk to us a little bit more about what we've done, but we'd also like to hear from you about what you are doing to see whether maybe we can steal some of your ideas with abandon. So, thank you. Thank you very much for today.
Mr Bannan: So what we're going to try and do is we've got about 10 minutes or so where we can open it up to questions and answer. I'm going to do my best to do a Donahue/Jerry Springer, so I'll run through the audience, put your hand up, I'll come and get you, then I'll come back to the speaker so we can put it all on. But I will be selfishly - I'll ask the first question. I stopped writing down tips about five minutes into Keith and Billie's presentation because I was running out of room to write down things to do because as an employer myself I obviously see some of the benefits of what they've done. But what I'm interested in knowing is lots of success here, but you often learn a lot from what didn't work. Would you be able to share with the audience what didn't work in your journey?
Mr Govias: Do you want to talk about something from a workplace perspective?
Ms Reynolds: You go first.
Mr Govias: Okay. I think some of what didn't work for us, to begin with, was actually I think trying to talk to leaders about the psychological demands of tasks. So I think I had - we're amongst friends here, there's some privacy, apart from the video of this going live - we had one senior leader that said, "Are we exposing ourselves? If we actually do this analysis and find out that there are these hazards in the workplace and we tell people about them, does that put us at risk?" Sort of a point at which all time stopped and I went backwards in my career and my journey and everything else about 150 spots. But it's still prevalent, still today whilst we're talking about mental health in the workplace, whilst we're being so open and transparent, whilst 'Are You Okay' day is there, you still have leaders that are concerned about what they perceive to be overall business risk and they fear that actually understanding what the hazard is exposes the business whereas, rather, I'd like to flip that and go understanding the risk helps you to understand and manage the particular hazard and to build a better framework for protecting risk. But it's still a factor today, so we still, as a business, have to keep working through that.
Ms Reynolds: This is the time I'm going to jump in and steal the microphone. You need to stand over there. So one of the things, I guess, from my level that I found a bit of a barrier was when we first started looking at the communication in stores and when I came onboard I had these fantastic ideas and it was pie in the sky and I was going to change the world and this is what we were going to do and we needed this much money and these many people and it was really fantastic, but I hit those barriers where the company, as we mentioned, turned around and said, "Well, we are a discount retailer and we do want to keep it in-house and fantastic ideas, but how can you just tone it down a little bit?" So, for me personally, and I guess it's a personality thing as well, I had to deal with my own personal issues of am I being shut down, was that the dumbest idea in the world, or are they actually being supportive and helping me grow and helping me work through different ways that I can communicate with our teams out there and look at the different levels and, as you heard, I've come from a logistics and warehousing background. I can't sell ice to Eskimos, but I know what looks safe and what works, so that's my experience into retail. So I was trying to pass on that information, but from a lower level, but make sure it was still really important that message that was going out there. So sometimes the challenges are personal when you're trying to deliver it as well, but I've managed to have that support in our team that they've given me the confidence to keep suggesting and to keep coming up with those ideas so that we can find a better way of doing things as well.
Audience: My question is probably in relation to the different generations that are coming through the workplace and are we seeing trends where we're seeing more of those psychological claims coming from perhaps a younger generation who perhaps aren't as resilient and how or what are some tools to use to help them through that? So, like a performance management issue?
Ms Stevens: I can speak from the retailer statistics that that's actually not the case. It's fairly well-represented across the ages and the generations. Secondary psychological claims, probably fair to say in the older age categories. Younger people, whilst they may have more claims, they tend to be of lower cost and a shorter duration. So I think we've got to think of strategies across all spheres and all generations and there's certainly challenges along the continuum there but, yeah, so we've got to, I think, look quite broadly and think quite broadly.
Audience: I'm Tegan from WorkCover and I just wanted to touch on that at the moment WorkCover all our leaders and employees are undertaking Mental Health First Aid training and how important that is and how beneficial it is for us, myself personally, and my people and our business about obviously improving capability and culture. So what I wanted to ask each of you if, out of all the strategies that you've shared, which is a lot, as Matt touched on, what would be your best take away suggestion that we could take away today about improving capability and culture?
Mr Bannan: We'll go right to left.
Ms Harper: So I think a lot of culture really starts from the top. It is a shared thing amongst a whole business, but it does start from the top, so making sure that your managers and supervisors have the right skills and capabilities to manage the mental health risks in the workplace. So, as you mentioned, Tegan, Mental Health First Aid is a fantastic program. There are some other programs out there as well. We're actually going to be piloting a managers and supervisors program in the New Year that will be available sort of at a low cost to industry that really gives frontline leaders those skills and capabilities for managing mental health of their teams and the wider workforce as well.
Ms Stevens: Thanks. So WorkCover is obviously an insurer, so building capability and culture is a team thing and working with our partners in events like this to bring it to the forefront but we, as an organisation, have to practice what we preach. So, hence, we've got great supportive leadership who is initiating such things as a Mental Health First Aid training, EAP, manager EAP is also very important, and we encourage our management and leaders to access that for support. So we've got some various in-house strategies as well because it's important for us to recognise that our people are often at the forefront in dealing with workers who are having these injuries and developing secondary psych claims. So we want to continue to evolve and support them and provide the tools and resources so that they can deal with these issues that happen and we're talking to customers every day.
Dr Joss: Thank you. Sorry, almost forgot. I think that's a great question, Tegan, and at SuperFriend we would say if you have limited resources the one thing that you can do is to train your managers. We do offer mental health and wellbeing training as one of our key programs, but in addition to that, I would say it's also understanding your workforce and understanding your workforce issues, so to do that it's gathering that data. So conducting workplace audit or an engagement program to understand what those workplace issues are, as much as surveying your workforce to find out what your employees are actually saying are the key issues and then acting upon that.
Mr Govias: Thank you. I think everyone stole my answer, but I think probably, for me, something we started about a year ago was going out to our managers as part of training, mind you, but we asked them to specifically stop talking about whether something was work related or non-work related. Stop talking about that, just focus on the fact that you are a manager, you've got a worker that's talking to you about their injury, whatever that might be, so just focus on what their capacity is and can you keep them at work. So start thinking about how you can keep them at work, regardless of whether it's work related or non-work related, at head office, whoever the return to work coordinator is for the site, let them deal with that aspect, but you, as the manager, deal with your direct employee as a human being and you will get better results just organically.
Ms Reynolds: Well, I think I've got to say the same thing as you, everyone has stolen my answers. Something else that I'd definitely suggest is making sure that when you do the research and you give the training to make sure that whatever you're going to provide for people covers all levels and sometimes that is a little bit hard because we have to think about education levels, background levels understanding. We discovered that some of the things we were delivering were just a little bit more advanced, so we were just trying to give that one size fits all. So making sure that whatever program you put in place, or whatever information you are delivering does cover every person that you're trying to do a touch point with.
Mr Bannan: I'm going to selfishly throw my two cents' worth in as well. For me, both working with employers and our own staff my simple take away is start the conversation. That's probably the easiest thing is this first point to start with, it's the easiest thing to do, having the conversation you're going to have a positive influence straight away. So that'd be my take away message from today.
Audience: Hi. This question is probably more for Keith and Billie, but anyone else provide some tips. What I was curious to know is in terms of your online training, the Truck to Customer, in terms of practical application, do you have any tips for us about how you got your staff to participate, making that time, given that they're there to work? Where did you find the time to put the training and how did you schedule that in?
Ms Reynolds: It's great when you bring the boss. I can definitely speak to this one because I'll be honest and this wasn't the first go at it, we did call it something else and we thought we'd be fantastic and try to roll it out to all 350 stores at once and just say there you go. So one of the things that we did the second time around, because we realised it just didn't have the impact we wanted, is we made sure that we had implementation managers who were really clear in understanding what the program was and how we were going to deliver it to everybody, and we made sure that the communication was there before we even started going out into stores. So there was a really great basis of planning behind it and making sure that we had the right people in the right role. So a good example is in Queensland we had one of our senior leaders who was rolling out the program, and he's actually a school teacher, so we knew he had already come from a background where he was used to educating people and he had a really great personality as well. So we made sure we chose those people who we knew could go into the store and give a really great positive attitude and a really great positive message.
But the other thing as well, as I said, is we didn't try to hit everyone all at once with it. We made sure that we did a [stagnant] roll and we made sure we did it in the right order as well, and the stores could take their own time. There was a schedule for them to roll on, so we gave them pre-work and then there was eight weeks' worth of set activities they needed to go on, but we did a weekly check in with them and those implementation managers went to every single one of those stores. They helped move the stock, they helped load the trolleys, they helped sell stuff on the shop floor, they sat down with someone individually and did that training. So we definitely made sure that it was a lot more personable, rather than just being, hey, someone up in head office gave us this bit of paper that we have to follow, and that really gave us the outcome that we wanted. So every single store that has gone through Truck to Customer had an official sign off, they got a great certificate at the end, we posted photos and promoted it and we made sure it was a really exciting and positive experience, and then we shared those stories throughout the business as well so that we could find our learnings.
And we also, if we encountered anything as we went along, we were adaptable enough that we didn't say, oh, no, that's the plan, we have to stick to it, we made sure that we learnt from our mistakes as we were moving through it and we updated it where we needed to.
- Last updated
- 03 January 2018
North Queensland Injury Prevention and Return to Work Conference
The conference is back in 2018 with a new line-up of expert speakers addressing the needs of those on the frontline of safety, rehabilitation and return to work. Register now!