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Dr Sarah Cotton video

No time for health: New ways to support small business owners and their people around mental health and wellbeing.

RUN TIME: 1 hour 2 mins 42 secs

Hi everyone. I'm Roslyn Miller and I'll be your MC for today. Welcome to our first online session of our Work Well, 365 Speaker Series for 2022. I would like to begin by respectfully acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land we are speaking to you from today and on which you are learning and working from today. We also pay our respects to elders past and present and extend the respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people watching today. In this session, Dr. Sarah Cotton will discuss new ways to support small business owners and their staff for their mental health and wellbeing. As an organisational psychologist, Dr. Sarah Cotton has more than 20 years’ experience in coaching, training and consulting with businesses of all shapes and sizes. Today, she will explore the common barriers for small business owners in proactively engaging with mental health and wellbeing practices and will identify a range of practical strategies and freely available resources to support our small business owners and their staff. Welcome Sarah.

It's great to be with you this morning. I suppose the irony of the title doesn't get lost on me, no time for health. And so, I just want to recognise all of you and thank you for making the time to listen in to the series, the first one in the series today. And it's just great to have you on board to open up this amazing and important conversation. I think we're all feeling, I guess, the pain of the last couple of years. Um, no more than small business owners. And so, it's great. Um, Roslyn, just to create the space this morning, to be able to think about, you know, what are the challenges as small business owners at the moment, and, you know, what are some of the creative and innovative ways that we can think about supporting them in you in different ways to combat and to, and to look at, um, protecting and promoting, you know, their mental health and wellbeing at this time.

Uh, so it's great to have those of you that are listening in live this morning. I also want to have a shout out to those of you that might be listening in at another time through the recording. Um, it's great to have you on board as well. Um, so basically, um, this morning, what I'd like to do is I'd like to sort of walk through sort of the presentation in sort of four chunks. Uh, I am a woman of my words, so we'll make sure that we finished up the session, um, by 12 o'clock, I'm sure that all of you listing in have got places to be and people to see. So, where I want to start with is I'm going to sort of do a bit of a deep dive into the challenges that small business owners face every day as a small business owner, myself and a psychologist who supports people in small business.

We know that those challenges are very real. Uh, as I said, particularly across the last two years and the sustained disruption that, that the pandemic continues to put on all of our plates. Um, then what I'd like to do is I want to then grapple, I guess, with some of the barriers that we see when it comes to the things that stop small business owners from reaching out often what we see in the literature, and certainly what I see at the call face. And certainly, you know, I'm happy to be vulnerable, um, with you this morning is sometimes, you know, it takes a crisis or a real pain point before we actually go “hang on a minute”. We actually need to do things differently. So, you know, what are some of those barriers to, to getting small business owners, to reach out early and proactively around their mental health and wellbeing, and then where we're going to start diving down towards that, the end part of the session this morning.

I really want to, uh, I guess, take our toolbox out and think about what some of the strategies are that we can put in place. Um, for some of you listening in, you might be small business owners yourself, for some listening in, you might be supporting small business owners, um, both professionally and some of you listening in might have loved ones or family and friends that are in small business. So, my hope is today that as I present and walk through some of these tools that it's either going to be, you know, confirmation you go. Yep, no, Sarah, I've, I've got that one. I think about that. I put that in practice, or actually it might give you, um, some additional tools to put in that, that toolbox. And then finally, um, before I, um, hand back to Roslyn towards the end of the presentation, I just want to outline a few resources. Um, some of you will be already aware of these, but don't want to make any assumptions and just wanting to make sure that you are across some of the amazing resources that are out there, um, from government resources through to some other, um, or great organisations supporting small business in Australia. So, Roslyn, I might just pause there for a minute just to make sure that everyone's hearing me okay. And everyone can see the slides and we are all good to keep going with the conversation.

Yeah. All good. Thanks, Sarah.

Amazing. Um, Roslyn, I might just also just let people know that, you know, you and I really happy to make this a pretty interactive session, um, rather than just me, you know, rabbiting on for the hour. Uh, I think it's the stories and it's the questions that, that bring the content to life that make these events, you know, uh, more engaging and more memorable. Um, so if people do want to participate, um, Rosalyn, what's the best way for them to do that in this session?

Absolutely. There's a chat function that people can access. And, uh, you're more than welcome to put down any questions as we're going through. And if a thought sparks, then definitely pop it in and we'll be able to share. And, um, pass that on to Sarah. If we don't cover the question in the session, then we can, uh, take that offline and get in contact with you. Afterwards.

Sounds like a plan, um, just to let people know too Roslyn, everyone learns differently, but if you're someone that likes a copy of the slides and, um, there'll be some resources that I'll obviously be sharing throughout the session as well. Um, Roslyn people will be receiving those after the session. They'll be available to people won't they? Yeah. Yeah. Great. No worries. So, tune for those. So don't feel like you have to be, you know, writing down these points, you will have, uh, a copy of the slides available to you. All right. So, I think if we're all good, um, Roslyn, we might keep moving on, but feel free to interrupt me with any questions that come through and I'll certainly be pausing along the way as well. So, I thought just to start with, I thought this, um, cartoon sort of, um, says it all really, doesn't it?

Yes, I am the owner. I'm also the manager, the accountant, my own assistant, um, and X, Y, and Z. And I know for me grappling a small business myself, I feel like this every day, and I think it just recognises doesn't it, the lived experience of the small business owner having to wear, you know, so many hats and, um, trying to juggle so much, which can have an impact kind of upon our mental health and wellbeing. Um, Roslyn and I were talking at the beginning of the session that, you know, in the early days of founding a company as a small business owner, you know, often the energy and the motivation and, you know, your you're sort of, um, working those long hours, but years on after the company sort of kicks into those, you know, five, 10, etc years, it can be really hard to sustain those, those long hours and that availability creep.

And so, you know, the reality is very real and that's why, you know, sessions like today are just so important to highlight the challenges of small business owners. So, what are some of those challenges that we see coming up for small business owners and I've, I've had a go at, at putting some up on the screen, you'll see in front of you, I'll walk through some of these. And as I walk through some of these challenges for small business owners, I'd love, if you can think of other ones that, that come up for you, that don't have again on the page. Um, if you would like to just pop those into the chat as well and Roslyn at the end, I'll get you to, um, throw some of those in the mix as well. Um, but perhaps if I start with the long hours culture, you know, that sense of feeling of always being on and that inability to switch off or that difficulty to switch off, uh, the high work demands is a really big one.

And in the literature that one comes up highlighted with exclamation marks as being a really key risk, um, for small business owners, just, you know, there's always demands, there's always deliverables and often a real lack of resourcing and time in order to achieve those demands. And we know from the literature that that can be really risky for our mental health and wellbeing. Uh, the financial strains are a really, um, big one, um, at the moment, particularly for small business owners, with the rising cost of living the sustained disruption of the pandemic, um, and all of the factors that, you know, we could explore until the cows come home, but that's a really big one, um, that has a really big impact. Um, the good old work life conflict is a massive one for all workers. Uh, and we're seeing that rising in prevalence, um, because of the, um, pandemic, but particularly for small business owners, we know that the impact of work life conflict is very real.

And when I talk about work life conflict, I think it's always really important, um, that we talk about it, that it's bidirectional, um, what I mean by that is it's not always, um, work impacting life. So, the arrow's not always going in that direction. It can also go in the other direction as well, where it goes from life impacting work. And we've certainly seen a lot more of that in the pandemic. And so, I think when we support people and we support ourselves around trying to mitigate work life conflict, that we are, we are really aware that arrow can go both ways. Uh, if I follow the, the, the slide along loneliness in isolation, um, we are seeing, uh, globally, um, has risen, uh, in light of the pandemic, but we know the risks of isolated workers is a high work related factor.

And certainly, for small business owners, that is one that we need to be watching out for. Uh, often the connection is often low there, often working in isolation. Um, so those risks associated with loneliness and isolation can be really real. Um, we also know that taking on, um, clients and employees stress and having those, you know, strong connections to the work, um, and that, that, that real, um, commitment and just they've invested so much into what they do can, can come at a real cost and it can have that emotional labour, um, that can take its toll on small business owners. And then the final two, before I, um, hand to you, Roslyn just to see if we've got any other, um, factors coming up, but that being all things to all people often as the small business owner in particular, in a small business, you know, wearing all those hats, having to carry all that load can, can feel very heavy for people. And then finally, what we've talked about already today that time, and that resource poor nature, uh, of what small business owners, you know, navigate every day. So, Roslyn, I might just pause there. Um, but I'd love to hear are there's some other ones coming up for people in the audience?

Yeah. The, thank you so much for everyone putting into the chat. Uh, Stacey mentioned relationship, pressures.

Yeah, big one, Stacey.

Again, wearing another hat of living, working, potentially having children or, or older family at home. How do you manage that on top of your business? Um, Sarah asked also about dealing with bullies who are suffering from mental health issues, so that external clients, and, um, I guess that supply chain of some things are out of your control, but you are running into their lives and, and what's going on there as well. And we also have one final one, um, with, again, that supply chain of how, how your work is then managed and impacted by those that are not part of your company, but you are delivering services to them and having to wait. Um, I know that construction has had a bit of delays with, uh, sourcing material and then what's the flow and effect down the chain for people that are going on to site and not being able to do the work because they don't have those resources there. So, some really good inputs from everyone online.

Yeah. It's such a good point. I think it’s; I love what you said too about often some of these challenges are out of our control and I think that's what makes it tricky. Doesn't it Roslyn. And we know that from a mental health perspective, if we've got low control, that can actually really be tricky in managing, you know, some of these, these high demands, lack of support. It's almost like a bit of a perfect storm, but I think your example of the, you know, the construction industry and the delays in supplies and, you know, trying to meet customer satisfaction and expectations, that's putting a lot of additional pressure on, on small business owners. So, thanks for those of you that through in a few more, um, for us to consider, as we think about these challenges of small business owners and some of these have been, some of the additional ones have been picked up here just under this sense of ongoing disruption, you know, is it over yet?

And we know that it's not. And so, we are seeing these ongoing disruptions in challenges coming up, including, you know, staff shortages. Um, we see, um, some of the recent statistics in April to June this year, you know, 53% of businesses had difficulty finding suitable labour to actually fulfill, um, you know, the demands of the business. And then you've got, you know, those fewer international students, holiday makers, et cetera, structured school shortages, um, and staff, you know, staff just being unwell, both with COVID and non-COVID illnesses. I know in our team, we've just had, you know, multiple COVID cases with the flu and other versions of, um, colds, not just in our staff, but in their family. Um, so it's, it's really providing a real, you know, disruption and ongoing, you know, challenges. And even when staff are coming back, I'm not sure if those listing in are finding the same thing. Um, they're still at not full capacity. So, it, it's putting a lot of strain and a lot of additional pressure on, on business owners. And then I'm very cognisant in Queensland. And many of you listening in, uh, from up north, you know, more floods and additional pressures on top of, um, all the ones that we've mentioned. Um, so I don’t know if there's any questions or further comments Roslyn, um, just by, you know, chatting through some of those additional points before I move on?

There's a few extra, um, in that space right now of even the knowledge of legislation and, um, what applies to business and even just knowing where to start, uh, in that space of you get an ABN, but then what else, uh, is in there and the technicalities of different industries and, um, a applying that legislation in the correct way. Um, and also the impact of COVID has been there, but there's also been so much other sickness as well, and how that then puts pressure on timeframes and pressure to deliver when you're having to look after those sick family members is part one, but also, um, as a, as a business owner, being sick as well and how that is then impacting how our, how the work is going and, um, being able to keep on top of just everything within life.

Yeah, it's a lot, isn't it Roslyn. And I think, you know, even before the pandemic kid, our shores, we knew school business owners had multiple challenges, but now, you know, just talking about these added pressures, we know that the challenges are incredibly real and, and it's so critical that we start thinking about these innovative and new ways to be supporting, you know, small business owners. Um, and there's a great quote there. I think that's, you know, really important for us to just keep, you know, at the front and centre of our minds and some of this research that was done back in 2020 that small business owners are particularly vulnerable from a mental health and wellbeing perspective with 34% having reported a medical diagnosis in the past 12 months for stress, anxiety, or depression, and keep in mind that was back in 2020. So, my hunch, uh, Roslyn would be that we'd be seeing higher levels, um, higher percentages there.

Um, so, you know, a real need to focus, you know, on this area. And it's great to see, you know, the regulators and legislation starting to bring more and more intention, um, to the importance of protecting small business owners. Um, we spoke at the beginning about often, you know, despite these challenges that we've just discussed, there's often really real barriers that prevents more business owners from actually getting help early or thinking about not only their own mental health and wellbeing, but the mental health and wellbeing of their workplace in a really proactive and preventative way. And largely, you know, we know, um, from what we've just talked about, a lot of that is to do with, you know, being time poor and overwhelmed. There's only, you know, so many hours in a day, uh, and it's about dealing with the, the priorities that are on that list.

And what I've done is I've popped in front of you. Um, some, some research that's been done and the sourced information's there, if you want to sort of do a deeper dive into the, the original documents, but what I wanted to pull out is, you know, what are some of these barriers that come up for small business owners in both accessing help and actually putting it into place and putting it into practice? Because I think they're two different things. Aren't there actually accessing it and knowing it's there and then actually translating that and actually doing something about that, whether that's for themselves or whether that's implementing something in their workplace to support their people more broadly. So Roslyn I'm, I'll run through these, um, just really quickly just to give people a bit more context around some of these key barriers, but, um, whilst I'm doing that, if, if there's other ones again, that, um, listeners in can think of that would be really good to put on the table, please, um, you know, feel free to pop it in the chat and Roslyn, I'll check in with you in a minute just to see if we've got some other barriers that would be good to throw in.

So, you know, um, there's that real sense of, um, understanding where to seek additional information. And as you say, Roslyn in particular, you know, to new legislation, where do I start? Often small business owners can feel really quite overwhelmed, um, that they're just flooded with information, and it just feels, I don't even know where to start. My to-do list is already for it's just too much. Those blurred boundaries between workers and family and friends can be a bit trickier within small business. Um, the time poor nature that we've spoken about the conflicting priorities is always something that can prevent small business owners from, you know, putting higher up the need to look after their own wellbeing or to think more proactively about the wellbeing of their business. Often small businesses don't have the resources around HR or health and safety that medium or larger businesses have.

So often the small business owner is required to wear that hat. In addition to every other hat that they're wearing. When we talk to small business owners at the coal face, I really, um, this one comes through loud and clear often there's a real sense of fear of making the wrong decision or not getting it right. So sometimes there can be a sense of avoidance of procrastination around that. Um, not liking that they don't want to admit defeat. Um, they want to be seen as that the, the, um, the, of their own business. So, they don't want to sort of, uh, admit that, um, no time outside business hours, it's just that lack of time again. And, um, particularly those in regional and remote communities, sometimes just accessing Roslyn. Some of these services is, is really tricky. I think that, you know, E therapy and some of the digital, um, progress that we've made in the pandemic has helped, but I think that can real, still be a real barrier. So, Roslyn, I might just pause there and check in with you, have there been any other barriers to accessing help or putting it into place that the participants have, um, have put in the chat.

Lin brought up a really fantastic point of cost, been a barrier to access health and absolutely agree on that. And also, there's a lot of resources around that are pitched at a medium to large business where it's layer upon layer, where the, the simple approach of just, what is it that I need, there's not as many resources available. And that is then that extra barrier of it's too much to, to implement. And we also have, Regina has added to the commentary, the ability to manage the concepts of inclusion and diversity. And that's something definitely within the last two years, um, in particular has, has been front and centre in the media. And how do we do that better in a small business, um, and, and go with the times as well.

Yeah, there's such great additional suggestions, aren't they? Um, so thank you for throwing those in. And I guess if we had more time this afternoon, there'd be many other, you know, barriers, but I think we've probably hit on the key ones. And I think as we think about the challenges that we spoke about previously, and then these very real barriers, um, that come up for small business owners, you know, as we think about the supports around small business owners, we really need to, you know, really face in and lean into these barriers so that we can look at really finding the innovative ways to overcome these so that it's much easier for small business owners to protect their own mental health and the mental health and wellbeing of their business. So, keeping, um, moving through the slides, I guess, you know, in addition to, um, the challenges and the barriers that we've talked about at transitioning world, we know that, you know, this ongoing disruption keeps hang, keeps us hanging on.

And, um, and we know that when we think about transition, you know, it can be really challenging. So, in addition to those challenges and barriers for small business owners, you know, we've the current state's gone, and the future state is still not, not clear. And so, we are very much, um, still in that transition and challenging phase of, of working through what that actually means. And for small business owners in particular, that can be particularly challenging without, you know, all of those resources that we spoke about before. So, we know because of all the challenges and the barriers and the ongoing disruption it's left many of us with less fuel in our tanks. And so, I think that's a really important piece to put on the table, um, that, you know, many of us are feeling a bit spent, um, not just in small business owners, but, but all of us.

And we see some of the statistics, um, Roslyn, I'm sure you'd be familiar with some of this, um, as well in the work that you do there, um, that we are seeing up to about three quarters of workers in Australia are actually putting their hands up and saying that they're showing signs of exhaustion tipping into early burnout. So, you know, it's, it's really real and tanks are pretty empty, but what we do know is that our tanks have an empty day overnight. So, you know, it might take time for us to start filling them up. Um, the other thing that's important to think about is that, you know, through the last, you know, through the disruption of the last few years, we may have developed some ineffective, you know, work practices or habits, or perhaps even lost, you know, some of the effective ones. And so, you know, how do we create that opportunity, I suppose, to get out of automatic pilot and to pause and think about finding creative ways to continue to pro, as it says there to protect our mental health and wellbeing and have those opportunities to refuel.

I think as humans, particularly we know when humans are navigating crisis, such as the pandemic, um, that we get pretty good at just getting into automatic pilot. And I think what we do know about mental health and wellbeing is that particularly for small business owners, we need to provide these opportunities for pauses and to get out of automatic pilot and to be more intentional about the protection and promotion of their health and wellbeing. And so, I guess that's where I wanting to move onto now, Roslyn is actually starting to take some of these tools out of the toolbox, um, and to think about, you know, how can we start really investing in, in protecting small business owners, mental health. So, I might just pause just to see if there's any questions or comments that have come through before we sort of launch into the strategies.

Robin brought up a very, uh, just poignant point of overcoming stigmas around mental health and even just taking that first step to seek help. Um, yeah. Has been, again, something that COVID has actually brought to the forefront, which has been a positive to start to address it, but there's still a long way to go there. And also, Robin brought up the point of the access to professionals, particularly outside of Southeast Queensland. When you go to regional and remote areas, you may only have a psychologist visit once a week or even once a month. And how do you access support when they may not be in town? Um, and just overcoming that barrier of being able to access, um, good evidence based, uh, support for your workplace. Um, but also for staff and, and family as well.

Yeah, it's really tricky at the moment, isn't it? And I think we know that, um, some of the wait lists for psychologists even in metro cities is, you know, is long. Um, but I think it's about how do we harness some of the more, um, you know, innovative, um, virtual, you know, technology to help us get more access to some of these services, particularly in regional and remote as well. So, thank you Robin, for raising those really important considerations to throw into our, our conversation this morning. So, look, I might move us on just to some of these strategies and, and, and if we can continue to, you know, throw things into the chat and Roslyn, I'll keep pausing as we go through these strategies. Um, as well, just to see if there's any examples or, um, questions that people have. So, if we have a look at some of the tools for refuelling that I want to talk about, and obviously these are sort of, um, put in place with the focus on small business owners today, but keep in mind, um, that they're also really great strategies for all of us as human beings who are working no matter where, what context that we are working in.

So, you'll see that what I've done is I've shown up five sort of strategies, tools for refuelling. And what I want to do is I'm going to unpack each of these and just get us thinking about what some of the things are that we can be doing to really focus on our health and our wellbeing, particularly at this time, and particularly as small business owners. So to start with this know yourself piece, it's, um, really about picking up on what I was talking about before is that often small business owners are so busy just in the doing of every day that it can become like ground hog day, like bill Murray, where you just, you know, you back again, wake up, do the day, and they're not actually creating that space to be more intentional about their self-care and the things that are most important to them.

And so, when we work with small business owners, some of the things that we often, um, do, which can be really beneficial in getting them to be, be more intentional about this is to revisit the values that they have. Um, and I think in light of the, the disruption of the pandemic, we're certainly finding a lot of people, uh, are doing more reflecting about what's most important to them. I don't know, Roslyn if you've found that in your networks, if people are, you know, just you're finding people, being a lot more reflective and really thinking about, you know, what, what matters, what matters the most, um, through the pandemic.

Absolutely. And definitely that point on being able to take a step back and see the big picture, because sometimes we do get stuck in the detail and you can just be doing the same thing, because that's the way you've always done it, but there's been so much good innovation where people have taken that big picture approach and even enlisted a mentor to be able to look at that business coaching space and be able to critically think about what's happening, where do they want to go and, and what gives them joy in the work that they do as well.

Yeah. And I think having that objective voice as a small business owner to your point is so important, isn't it? Because I think we get lost so much in our subjectivity in our own world and you can just, you know, it's like the frog in boiling water, the frog doesn't realise how hot that water's getting. It just heats up gradually. But if you put that, you know, frog in boiling water, it, it leaks out straight away and goes, you know, wow, this is just too hot. And I think with small business owners, sometimes we don't realise how hot our water's getting. So being able to actually create that space to get out of automatic pilot and to really think about what's most important is really, uh, critical. So, couple of suggestions here, and obviously, you know, for each of these, we could unpack them, which could take an hour to unpack all of these points, but you know, the revisiting of your values is really beneficial, um, for small business owners.

And also, um, I wanted to introduce, um, the listeners today to a piece of research by Professor Ellen Kasik, um, Ellen works in, in America and she's really contributed a lot to the literature on helping people understand what she calls their work, um, style. And what I mean by this is, you know, we all have our preferences to how we like to integrate work and life to sort of protect our mental health and wellbeing. And she says from her research, there's three main sort of preferences that people have. The first one is people who are integrators. So, people who don't mind being interrupted between life and work. So, they don't mind getting a, uh, on the weekend, a call from work or a call from a client, um, or vice versa at work, a call from their partner or their kids. Then you've got the separators or segregated.

So, they use those words interchangeably with this model. Um, they're people who prefer to keep work and life really separate. And then Ellen says, there's the cycles who do a bit of both depending on the demands, um, of what's going on for them. So, I don't know Roslyn if that resonates with you, but I'm happy to pull my hand up and say that I'm a bit of a separator, um, by nature. Um, but as a small business owner, I have found that really tricky as you can appreciate being a separator as a small business owner. So, I've had to learn to be a bit more of a cycle. And what I mean by that is during the week, I tend to function as a bit more of an integrator, but on my weekends are sacred. So, I tend to keep my weekends, um, really separate, um, as much as I can.

And so, because what we know is that if you are operating away from your natural style, um, that can come at a cost. And so that's how I, as a small business owner myself, have learned to manage that. And I'll just say one more thing, um, Roslyn, and then I'll hand back to you to see if there's any questions, but one of the things that we've noticed over the last two years with many, um, workers at times being forced to work from home is that it was the separators who, who really struggled with working from home because they preferred the commute. They preferred the, into that real clear demarcation between work and life. So might just pause there Roslyn, just to see if that's raised any questions or if you've got any comments about Ellen's model.

I would like to ask, uh, how, how did you go about identifying that you were a separator and has that changed your model of business when you identified that, did you see a change in, in what you were doing and how you were doing work?

Uh, two good questions. So, there is that there is actually a, a survey, um, that Ellen has, which I'm happy. I don't, I don't think I've got the resources, but I'm happy to share it with you, Roslyn, that you share with participants if they want to do that. Um, so that's what helped me, um, really work out what I was, but I also was finding myself, um, I used to get really resentful, um, when I used to get calls on the weekend or have those interruptions. And when I read Ellen's work and there's a copy of the paper, um, that I'm happy to send as well as a resource. When I read the paper, I went, oh, that's what it is. I'm not an integrator, that's not my preferred style. So that's how I found out. And then did it change how I worked?

Um, yeah, look, my business partner and I had a really honest conversation, my business, partner's an integrator and I'm a separator. So, we actually worked out how to work better together. And then I'm always really upfront with my team that I am a separated by nature. Um, and so that's really helped to work out how we work best as a team. So, if that answers your question, but, um, I think it's good for all of us to be thinking about not just in our own lives, but those listening in that are leaders to be thinking about what the work style of your people is can make a massive difference in helping to protect them as well.

Awesome. Thanks Sarah. That's yes, really, really good food for thought of something that you can, can do really easily, but can also make a difference in the relationships that you have with staff, but potentially also clients as well to work better with them and to communicate in a style that is going to resonate with them as well.

Yeah. And I think we're going talk about boundaries in a tick, but I think too finding ways to communicate that even to clients too, mm-hmm so on my email signature, I actually have, um, that I don't, I'm not checking emails on the weekend, so if it's urgent, you're going have to call me. So just, you know, finding ways to people aren't mind readers. So, helping people understand your preferences too, in how you communicate your boundaries is, is really important. Look, I'm going keep us moving on because I am a woman of my word and I want to make sure that we honour the time that we have together as well. Um, just to let you know, one of the resources that you'll be receiving in the pack following the session today is one called building your lighthouse. So, if, um, you haven't sort of stopped and paused to look at what's most important to you for a while, um, I'd really encourage you to have a go at this activity.

Um, you can do it for yourself as an individual. It works really well in teams in families. Um, but hope that just gives you an opportunity to give you something really practical. Um, very happy for you to share that as wide as you want. Um, but I don't mind where that resource goes. I just hope that it helps people to actually be reminded of what's, you know, most important to them. So I'm going move on now to the second, um, strategy, uh, which is a nice Segway actually to what we've just been talking about, Roslyn, which is around, you know, how particularly small business owners, when there's just, you know, so much going on that always on mentality, that availability that we know has been creeping up, particularly in light of the pandemic, how do we actually start being intentional around our boundaries?

Because what we know is that if we don't actually set the boundaries for ourselves, um, no one else is ever going do that for us. And I'll always remember that when someone shared that with me early in my career, they went there, you know, unless you actually are intentional about how you want to set your boundaries between work and life. They're not magically going just happen. You know, you've actually got to be really intentional around that because what we know there from the research is that clear and predictable boundaries, um, really support wellbeing and recovery from work. So, we know that they're not just nice to haves. They're really integral. And I reckon I've got a quote there from Adam Grant and the reason Roslyn and I wanted to share that today is, you know, I've studied boundaries a lot in my career, both professionally and personally, because I've, you know, I've found it not easy to always have clear boundaries and that quote by Adam Grant changed my behaviours in setting clearer boundaries more than anything else I'd ever read before.

So, you know, he says, it's impossible to please everyone. The question is whether you're disappointing the right people. And it was that part of his quote that I went, man, you know, who am I? Who am I disappointing? There's only 24 hours in a day, seven days a week. Um, you know, I'm only one person and I need to make sure I build in recovery otherwise I'm not going be sustainable. Um, so yeah, I just think it's, it's really important to be thinking particularly as small business owners, about how we can set up those clear boundaries and look, we could do a whole masterclass just on clear boundaries, Roslyn, but I suppose just for today, I just wanted to, I guess, raise it as something that we know is really important. Um, and then I've got just there some, some tools to think about, um, in boundary setting, which you can have a look through in more detail at your own leisure.

Um, and I think, you know, it, it is, as I mentioned before, you know, things like people aren't mind readers, so we need to make sure we communicate, you know, those boundaries. It's certainly not a one size fits all, you know, the boundaries that I want to put in place wasn’t and I'm sure will be very different from you and those listing in this afternoon. So, I think, but what we do know is that being able to set clear boundaries is something that's, that's really important for, for our own mental health and wellbeing and that of our people as well. So, what I've done Roslyn is I've also got, um, a handout here that I thought, um, might be helpful. I don't know if I I'm sure I'm not the only one that sometimes struggles to say no to things. So, we put together a resource, there is, you know, how can we draw our line in the sand and what are some handy hints for saying no. And then what are some different ways of saying no as well? So, I might just pause there Roslyn, just to see if there's any questions or comments that have come up about the importance of setting boundaries.

I think there's a lot of people that are very interested in the resources to be able to download those and, uh, connect in with those. And so just a reminder that they will be emailed out after this session and available on the work safe website, um, in, in a week or so. Uh, one thing about the boundaries, um, in particular, um, I know I have found it hard to say no. And one of the best things about doing that is you can get the best yes. From saying no. And that's something that we can all learn from. And those boundaries, I guess you'd mentioned about being able to put that email signature at such a simple thing to do. Have you found that by setting that up, that is a bit of a, a policy change from setting foundation of this is the way that you work and how you work? Have you had positive responses from people knowing that expectation right from the front that you will only respond within work hours? Um, and, and I guess the, the benefits from setting those boundaries, how has that, uh, I guess flown onto different work for you?

Yeah, I think, um, yeah, twofold. I think that I've found people have been really respectful around that, uh, and have appreciated me communicating that, you know, to them the, the team and the clients that, that I, I work with have found that, I mean, you, you can find, and I think that's, that's one of the things that, you know, we need to be mindful of, which I shared, um, in that previous slide is sometimes, you know, um, you don't always get, oh, it's fantastic that you're setting these boundaries. It's wonderful, particularly with clients who are used to you being so responsive and so available. So, it's important when we start looking at setting our boundaries that we, um, we need to expect and prepare for pushback as well. Um, and making sure that we are harnessing that stakeholder engagement and talking with the people that are around us about these boundaries, rather than just going, this is my boundary. And you know, I'm not going to think about how that impacts you, but really doing that in a considered way as well. Um, can be really important and Roslyn, I'm sorry. I forgot the second part of your question.

I think, uh, I will, I'll move it forward of what are some other strategies that you found that emails? One part I know I use the strategy of being able to block my lunch break out so that I can leave the desk and actually go for a walk and, uh, end of the day as well, being able to, to be on time to be able to leave work. Are there some other strategies that you have in place yourself?

Um, yeah. Look, I think for me, one of the big ones that I, everyone lasts at me when I say this one is for my kids. So, I've got two, um, teenagers at home and, um, working from home at the moment here in Victoria. And when I, um, switch off from being worker mum, um, I go and put my PJs on so that they know when they've got mum, mum. So, for me, that's just a really practical way that helps me switch off, but also signifies to, you know, my family around me that I've, that I've switched off for the day and that they've got, you know, I'm in that other role. Um, so there's a heap of resources and a heap of ways that you can do, um, boundary setting. Um, one of the ones that I think just in leading on from your question, Roslyn, that I love the most is Adam Fraser's work.

Some of you may have heard about Adam's phrases, the third space, um, he's a researcher that's been involved at deacon university down here in Victoria. And he, he did this amazing research where he really looked at, you know, how can we harness this time between switching off from one role and showing up in another? So, in a sense he's talking about boundaries, you know, how can we help each other to be able to switch off and show up more intentionally? And what he found in his research is he says that there's a sort of a mechanism. If you, you follow this third space, he said, it's about reflecting on where you've been. Uh, and just taking a moment just to get out of automatic pilot and go, you know, what, where have I just been, what have I just done? Um, and then being out to then, pause just briefly to give yourself some space and then being able to look at resetting before you show up into that next role or that next meeting or that next client. So, you know, it's a really simple strategy Roslyn, but it's an amazing one to actually get us out of that automatic pilot and to really harness those gaps that we have that often, you know, we don't harness. And what I have found is that's been really helpful for me in just helping to manage, um, the boundaries, not only between work and life, but from meeting to meeting as well. So, I don’t know if that resonates, um, with anyone in the audience Ross, or if there's any questions on the third space.

There's no questions yet, but that was a pivotal book that I read earlier in my career. And as I said before, saying no was really hard and being able to transition and not take work home. And that's, I think been a challenge in the last couple of years where work and home have become one in the same place. And as you mentioned about even just changing clothes can be such a, a small physical thing, but can make a big difference within just that small step to, to being able to put boundaries on what is work, what is home and, and transitioning between those spaces. And I don't know how, uh, Victoria's been quite locked down for a lot of the time, how your, how different the work intensity has been over these last couple of years and how you've found to manage that space. Because I think the work intensity has been, rather than just a hundred percent, we've been kind of running at a pace of around 200, 250% and how we come back from that now that we are still running, but what do we do to, to change, change our trajectory?

Yeah, I think, um, awareness is key, isn't it? I think it's not until we're aware and we can get out of automatic pilot that we can ever change anything. So, I think that, um, certainly what I'm seeing here in Victoria, as I mentioned earlier with some of those stats, is that people's tanks are really empty. And so being at it recognise that and going, you know, what IM currently doing and the pace in which I'm currently working is not sustainable. So actually I, I need to do things differently and creating that, that break, I suppose, for people to really think about, you know, what are some of the habits that I need to tweak now, um, in order for this, you know, in order to protect myself, um, I think it's such a simple one Roslyn, but I think, you know, as we've been, it's sort of been a key thing that's come up today in the conversation is getting out of automatic pilot and actually creating that awareness and that space, just to be able to do things a bit differently and to sort of almost reset if you, like on, on what that means in, you know, in order to protect our health and our wellbeing. Does that make sense?

Yeah, absolutely. And it's something that, uh, as, as we continue, how do we build in that personal piece of Westmore business owners, and we need to do this for ourselves, but then what can we build into the way that we're doing work and influence our staff in a really positive and healthy way.

As well? Yeah. And I think just on that point, Roslyn, I think as, you know, as small, small business owners in particular, you know, we have such a role to play in modelling some of these practices to our people. You know, we know from the research that if you've got a leader who's modelling really good work, life integration, modelling, really good, um, boundaries, the rod modelling really good recovery time that that can have a massive impact on the health and wellbeing of the people that work under that leader. You know, there's never been a time where it's been more important for leaders to be well so that they can actually lead well. So look, on that point, I might just keep moving us forward just to the last few, um, strategies and I'll, I'll move through these ones pretty quickly, because they sort of are picking up on some of the points that we've already been talking about, which is great in the conversation look, and I'm really cognisant that a lot of this is not rocket science, but still, um, really useful just to sort of recalibrate and reset on.

And we know particularly with small business owners that self-care can often come to the bottom of the to-do list, uh, amongst everything else, um, that they're doing. And I know I pull my up and say, you know, I'm guilty of this as well. Um, as a business owner from time to time where self-care often gets that last, um, looking when it comes to everything else. So being able to actually know and reset on self-care, you know, as, um, that quote there that I love from Vanessa that self-care is not about pampering. It's about protecting our mental health and wellbeing. And just in working particularly with small business owners on this, you know, I often say to them, you know, you've got to find your, find your own internal, um, dialogue around that. You know, I could work with you to the cows, come home to try and get you to think about self-care differently, but I really encourage people to sort of look at their, their own internal chatter around thinking about self-care differently.

And I know for me, Roslyn what really resonated with me was as a psychologist, as a small business owner, when I thought about it, I went, you know, what, if I'm not okay if I'm not well, um, that I am as a psychologist, I am my tool. So, you know, I have to be well in order to, you know, fulfill my duty of care to my clients and um, the people that work for transitioning well. So, you know, all of us will have our own narrative around that will have our own histories around self-care, but it's really important for us, um, to get straight with that dialogue and to be able to go it's okay, it's actually not just okay, but it's essential that we actually look after ourselves and we know too importantly, that rest is just as important as getting a good night's sleep.

I think the sleep hygiene piece is critical. So please don't misinterpret what I'm saying. Um, and the literature would back that up, but I think we've put so much emphasis on putting everything into sleep that we haven't talked enough, um, and help people understand enough about the importance of rest. And so, I just wanted to introduce your listeners this morning, Roslyn to some, some research by Dr. Sandra Dalton Smith, um, who actually gets us thinking, I guess more broadly about rest and not just putting it all into one bucket. But Sandra, what I love about Sandra’s work is, um, she talks about seven buckets, you know, ranging from physical rest, you know, mental rest, um, sensory rest, um, even creative rest. You know, I know for me, you know, getting out into nature is one of the best ways that I switch off and rest emotional rest, social rest, and spiritual rest. And I might pause there Roslyn, because I'd love to just see if there's any questions or comments coming through, because I think, you know, expanding that out that sense of rest is, is really helpful, particularly for small business owners.

Absolutely. Ella has popped into the comment about some of the, like what are some of the best, third space rituals that you can see or have seen and have put in place. And I think that's ties nicely in with, with this rest conversation.

Yeah. I think the third space, what I've seen is, um, you know, people who between a meeting. So, from meeting to meeting, they actually make sure they put a five or 10 minute buffer in between their meetings. So they're not running from meeting to meeting to meeting, uh, and that they actually create the space to actually follow up document what's been discussed in the meeting, close that off, have a bit of a walk around, you know, throw the ball to the dog, go and get a glass of water if they're working from home, you know, um, walk to the next meeting room, if they're at work to create that space between meetings is, is one of the great fed spaces that I've seen. Um, a third space that I also really like that I often see between switching off from work and then going home is the commute. So people really being intentional about using that commute, whether that's listening to a podcast, you know, turning the radio up loud and just singing or, you know, calling a friend on the way home just to be able to help them sort of switch off and embrace that third space so that when they do walk in the front door, they're actually able to, uh, show up as opposed to still having all the work, um, thoughts still, you know, very present in their mind. So, um, there's just a couple of suggestions, Roslyn that come to my mind.

One other part. And I think it comes back to that stigma perspective of if I was to talk to a farmer about putting rest into their day, they would probably laugh quite a lot. How do we go about, I guess just breaking that down, the fact that it is so important and foundational to just us as human beings, how can we build that into the way that we do our work without it being seen as just a, a nice to have in a way?

Yeah, I think, um, yeah, you're right. I think sometimes, uh, it can be seen as a fluffy thing, can't it as a nice to have. And so, I think, you know, we have to help people understand, I think sometimes the science and the, the real, um, benefits of this at a really, um, practical level, you know? Um, so understanding just even things like, um, when I often think of rest really practically. And when I talk to a lot of my male clients about rest, for the very reasons that you've talked about, you know, if I talk about some of this, I, oh, you know, they roll their eyes. Um, but if I actually say we know from the research that ex I talk about it in the language of external and internal recovery, and that seems to really resonate with people sometimes more. What I mean by that is external recovery is how we switch off after work, how we switch off on weekends, uh, are we taking holidays?

So, we get that external break from work. And then I also talk about internal recovery and what I mean by internal recovery is, are we actually stopping to have lunch? That's a really good example of, of, of resting and having that opportunity to recover within our Workday. And, um, even just having enough water, you know, just some of those practical things that we can be doing, um, that give people, you know, something really tangible to hold onto. So, I don’t know if that's helpful  Lyn but that's some of the language I tend to use that sometimes resonates more.

Yeah, absolutely. And Stacy's mentioned about cultural rest as well and doing activities that activates your soul and going back the country to reconnect with ancestors.

Oh yeah. Wow. I love that. I might talk to, I don't know, Sandra Johnson Smith personally, but I love that cultural rest. I reckon that, um, might need to reach out to her and get that at added in as an eighth one. So, thank you for that, but I am going to keep moving us on, um, Roslyn, just so that we can move towards the, the, the tail end of the presentation. So, we've got about eight minutes left this morning, um, before we finish up the conversation. So if there's any questions that you have or any final comments, if you want to start popping those in the chat, I'll make sure that I pause at the end, just to be able to, um, to, um, to talk through any of those before we, we close the session off, there's a quote there that any small business owner listening in, I'm sure I won't read it out.

I'm sure um, people will resonate. So just as a nice reminder of how much, uh, and the challenges of being a small business owner and the importance of making sure that we put fuel in our tanks again, and other resource there for you, um, that you can avail yourself. Um, this is a great one that just gets you thinking about the different tanks. Um, there's, I think there's the six tanks that you, you look at in this resource and think about just like you do on your fuel gauge in your car. Um, you know, how empty or how full is each of those tanks. And it also gives you some strategies if you're feeling that some of those tanks are a bit low, uh, it gives you some strategies for how you can proactively look at fuelling up. And again, you know, talking about language and talking about getting out of the fluff.

I think using resources like this, um, Roslyn can be really helpful as well to get people to tangibly think about their fuel tanks. Um, so that's just another resource that, that you'll be able to have a look at following the session. And then finally, just the last couple of strategies, um, this weaving wellbeing into works a really, uh, important one as well. I think, you know, we often believe we need huge box of time away from the desk to actually make sort of these wellbeing check-ins, um, worthwhile, but we know that the little things, those little moments all add up and they aren't little. And so, some of the things that we often talk about, um, certainly in the work that we do, particularly with small business owners is having quick ways of checking in on our wellbeing every day that don't actually take up too much time.

So, these five quick checking prompts, for example, um, I tend to encourage people to do these as habit stacking. So, when they boil a kettle, uh, is a really good one, uh, when they go and they're waiting for the kettle to boil, they can quickly go ask themselves, you know, these five questions, you know, how am I feeling right now? What's actually stressing me at the moment what's actually going on in my body. Um, what can I do to be kinder to myself? And I love the good old halt acronym. If you haven't heard of that one before, is, am I halt? Am I hungry? Am I angry? Am I lonely? Am I tired? And I think for small business owners, so often we are just under the pump 24 7 that we don't stop. And just having a little prompt, a wellbeing prompt like that. Like, am I, and just asking myself, hang on a minute, have I stopped to have lunch? Uh, am I actually, am I angry? Um, am I feeling lonely or am I just really tired? Can be really good. Um, Roslyn, just as those opportunities to get out of automatic pilot. I don’t know if there's any comments on that one.

Not at the moment, but absolutely weaving it into having, um, I guess from that business perspective, having the right equipment to do the right job, whether that be even the little things of your right technology, your desk set up so that you not impacting muscle skeletal system as much, and really keeping injuries to a minimum. How, how do you weave that into just every day when, when you're there and you even mentioned before about not having access to water or not having your lunch? How can you build that into the way that you do work so that that's so readily available and you can have those check-ins with staff, um, and have those conversations as well?

Yeah, that's great. Thanks Roslyn. And then I've got some other activities there that you'll be able to have a look at when you go through the slides, but I guess I just wanted to show you this Microsoft, um, work lab piece of research just really quickly, that speaks to the importance of having breaks between meetings. Um, you'll notice they're on the top, um, brain scans. Um, this was four meetings where people had no breaks versus the second group of people who had a 10 minute break between each of these meetings. The blue represents less stress on the brain scans they're going into the red represents more stress. I think the only reason we're starting to see, um, a reduction in the people with no breaks. It was probably their last meeting for the day, but you can see really clearly the difference that just having that those breaks in between can make on our health and wellbeing. So really practical things to be thinking of Roslyn. And I think when you see it visually like that, it's very powerful, isn't it?

And Sarah's made a really great point in the comments that we tend to do this for our kids or within our family, or are they hungry, angry, lonely? Are they tired? But we really sometimes forget about ourselves. And, um, as, as business owners, that that can be a real challenge to actually stop and put some care and love to yourself as well.

Yeah, that's so true. Isn't it we're so much kinder on everyone else? I often say to the small business owners I work with, if you were actually to treat yourself like you're one of your clients or one of your team members, or one of your family, or one of your friends, um, what would you be doing differently? And I, you know, and they go, oh, wow. Yeah. When they, when they challenge themselves with that question. So, it wasn't just to finish off the strategies, um, is just really about, particularly with small business owners. Um, thinking about that connection, you know, we know social isolation is one of the biggest risk factors for depression and some of the other mental health considerations. And so particularly with small business owners, so often working in isolation is how can we get them thinking about those opportunities to connect.

I know earlier in the presentation you spoke about, you know, those great ideas about having a mentor, you know, attending sessions like today, um, you know, finding network groups, um, and nurturing all of your relationships, you know, that that really powerful quote there from a small business owner, there's no point having a successful business if it destroys your marriage. And so getting people to really think deliberately about how they can stay connected. And we know certainly from a work, uh, health perspective as well, that social support and having support from supervisors and leaders and keeping the team connected is a really important, um, protected factor for our mental health, you know, and wellbeing. So, look, I hope that those strategies Roslyn have given people some food for thought today. And before I just hand to you just for any final questions, I just want to just highlight in the slides when you do receive them.

What I've done is I've just put, um, a number of resources here that you'll be able to tap into, including some of the projects that we are working on. Um, there's one there in new south Wales, which offers small business owners, um, some free practical coaching. We've also got a, a program with the department of health, for small business owners who are becoming parents, which is really exciting that we'll be looking at rolling out. Um, so that's something to look out for. There's also a lovely little exercise there that heads up did for small business owners that I would highly recommend. Um, but I hope that Roslyn that's just given people just the opportunity, um, just to be able to really stop and get out of automatic pilot and think about, you know, uh, the real challenges, um, that small business owners have and how we can creatively look at, you know, protecting and promoting that. So just in the final minutes, I'd love to just pause and see if there's any final questions.

We've had some really good comments come through and even connecting him with podcasts and been able to, to stop. And, um, one that Dave suggested was the sleep diplomat he's found, um, quite useful. And I know there's quite a few different podcasts in particular that are out and, and released and are, are an easy way to be able to stop and listen on the way or have something different in the car when you're driving to the next job to stop and consider and think differently as well. Good fair spaces as well.

Well, I think we're coming to the end of, um, the session today and any final questions that are there. Um, we will be able to take them offline. Um, I would like to thank you, Sarah, for giving us such an insight and sharing your experience in, in small business. And I'd like to thank everyone for joining us today. We hope you are able to take Sarah's information and implement it into your workplace. Today's presentation. Recording will be available on our website and keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks. Don't forget. We have five more presentations as part of the Work Well 365 Speaker Series in August. Hear from forensic psychologists, David Whittingham, who will be discussing the different types of work related violence and will provide practical tools to help reduce the risks. I also encourage you to check out the full range of industry and topic, specific video case studies, podcasts, speaker, recordings, webinars, and films, to help you take action to improve your work health, safety, wellbeing, and return to work outcomes. These resources are free to download and share. So, I encourage you to share them with your staff and networks. Have a wonderful day, everyone.