Design for workplace diversity, developed by Sara Pazell presented by David Hall
Learn about how to integrate business unit activity, display good leadership, and advance company strategy through a shared investment in design objectives, measures, and outcomes.
Good day everyone I'm Chris Bombolas from the Office of Industrial Relations. I'm your host for today.
Welcome to our second online series event for Safe Work Month. I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today and pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging. I'd like to extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples watching today.
I would also like to thank our Safe Work Month Short Talks sponsor, No More Pain Ergonomics. No More Pain Ergonomics is one of Australia's leading suppliers of ergonomic equipment and solutions. They work with a wide range of business customers to assist them with their ergonomic needs. No More Pain Ergonomics has an extensive range of ergonomic equipment to support any ergonomic related issue. Our scheduled presenter Dr. Sara Pazell is unfortunately unable to present today.
Though we are very fortunate to have David Hall here with us to present on this topic. David is passionate about health, wellbeing, and building strong teams in workplaces. For nearly two decades, he has been working with individuals and organisations in his capacity and loves what he does. In 2016, David became the National Chair of the APA Occupational Health Physiotherapist Association. This role involved working in collaboration with a strong national committee in setting standards of practice in occupational health, consulting for health professionals who work in this field. This includes a strong training and mentoring role with the Australian Physiotherapy Association members.
With a unique background in physiotherapy and group facilitation, David has strong skills at working in partnership with organisations to see new possibilities in building healthier, happier, and stronger teams at work. David, we look forward to hearing about how we can create a human factors approach to design for diversity at our workplaces.
During the presentation, David will be running a poll and if you'd like to get involved, please go to www.menti.com and use the code 2890 7063, that code again, 2890 7063. We link now, with David.
Hopefully you're ready to go, and of course we'll ask questions at the end of David's presentation. David, I know you're champing at the bit to join us from Melbourne.
Thanks very much Chris, what an introduction, that's fantastic. And also the fantastic music that we had in the lead up. How can I possibly keep that momentum up? But that's got us all fired up. Thank you, I am coming to you from a Melbourne, of course lockdown capital of the world, not just Australia.
And today we're talking about design for workplace diversity. And I wanna start with an important concept here. And that's the concept that sometimes when we wanna look at workplace design, when we wanna to look at design that's healthier, that helps make us happier, more energetic, more productive, that we need to sometimes think outside the box. And to do that we need to sometimes challenge old habits. Let's start with one straight away. I want to everyone whether you're sitting or standing, I can do both on my fabulous sit-to-stand desk here of course, is I want you to cross your arms the normal way, the way that you just do without thinking.
So if you can do that for me now, just cross your arms. Now I have just automatically put my dominant arm over the top of my non-dominant, that's what I did. But what did you do? Did you cross your dominant arm over the top or your non-dominant arm? Now if we had a chance to see everyone face-to-face it would be about 50/50, so half the population does one and half does the other. Now, try it the other way, see how it feels. So just try it see what happens when you do that. And how does that feel? It's not something you can't do, you can do that. But how did your brain cope with that? That's what it's like when we look to change design of workplaces. And by design we mean lots of aspects of that. Today we're looking at workplace diversity, so a lot of the aspects of design that we'll be looking at is how we communicate with each other.
For example, how we structure our workplace routines. We have acknowledged the country early on, thank you Chris for doing that. It's really important for us to do that. Acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia, and their incredible connections to land, sea, and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today, thank you. So today we're looking at the What and Why of workplace design with a focus on diversity. So where do we begin? We'll look at the unique human factors approach to this. Also, how do we sustain these ideas and the design practices in a business from day to day?
So to clarify the WHAT here is diversity, inclusivity is the WHY, and design is the HOW, just to expand on that. So by diversity we're talking about distinctive characteristics, traits or capabilities of people that reflect different needs, motivations, the manners of thinking and acting in a workplace. So, that's the WHAT, that's what we're focused on today. Inclusivity, we're talking about how do we bring all of that together in a way that reflects the beliefs, the values in an inclusive manner so that we can actually have people singing from the same song sheet, celebrating that diversity, and working well together. Now, workplace design creates lots of fabulous opportunities to do that.
And that's what we're gonna be focused on today. That's the HOW of today. How we engage people, how we solve problems, and how we leverage opportunities to innovate and prosper. We can look at some interesting work in New Zealand where they looked at top three workplace concerns. One being wellbeing and wellness. And just to clarify the difference there, wellbeing is the sort of total wellbeing if you like, mental and physical, holistic wellbeing. Wellness looking more at the physical components of that, but also looking at bias, flexibility, and agility. And particularly in Australia, particularly unfortunately here in Victoria, that need for flexibility and agility has been a particularly topical thing during the pandemic times.
Also looking at gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability, all of these aspects of diversity. Also including sensory neurodiversity. So people with autism, ADHD, that type of issue as well. So let's start with a poll here. Do you have an inclusive policy in your workplace? Do you have a design for diversity strategic plan? So is that already in place, an architectural and organisational roadmap? Now I believe that a link has come up again, there it is, hopefully you can see that. So menti.com, 2890 7063. So that is an opportunity for you now to just pop your ideas into that.
So do you have an inclusivity policy in your workplace? Do you have a design for diversity strategic plan? We'd really like to see what you say about that. So there's some ideas coming through there and there's quite a mix there in terms of what's coming through. Thank you for doing this. It helps to see where are we going with this. Yeah, okay, so hopefully you can see some of the results starting to come through. Okay that's great, I'll get a summary of that sent through then if I can, so we can see a bit more clearly with that. It looks as though, most of you do which is terrific. Although, there's a fairly high proportion of people saying uncertain.
And perhaps today's presentation will help to clarify that. But certainly more yeses than noes, and that's a great start. Although a lot of uncertains there as well. I think one of the keys here is that we may know it's something that we need to do, but what do we do? How do we do that? That's what today is going to aim to assist you with. So thank you for your contribution. The reality is that we have a lot of checks and balances in the acts in the legal framework around us. We have all of the acts here with the Age Discrimination Act, the Disability Discrimination Act, human rights, Work Health and Safety Acts. So they're there, they're embedded. But the question is what happens on the ground? How do we actually act that out in a day-to-day capacity? Are we literally able to make that work? Because it is one thing to have the policies, it's another thing to actually have it as a way of doing things.
And I wonder if you'd reflect on that for a moment. It's actually getting warmer in Melbourne than usual, sorry to set the go off screen there. So do we have the opportunity to do this? Now looking at workplace harmony, do the women, for example in the organisation feel invited? Do they feel welcomed and valued throughout their employment lifecycle? Just reflecting on that for a moment. we could change that word and look at other aspects of diversity. Do people with disabilities feel invited? Do they feel welcomed and valued throughout their employment lifecycle? So one in six Australians are recognised as having a disability, so of those about three quarters, 77% physical disabilities and around one quarter, some sort of mental situations. So, that's a large proportion of the population.
Now, they are disrepresented in the unemployment stats. So if you have a disability, the unemployment rate is 10%, and that compares to 4.6% for those who aren't recognized as having a disability. So that's more than double. So something to reflect on, do people with disabilities feel welcomed, valued, throughout their employment lifecycle? Do people who are sensory neurodiverse, so again, ADHD, Asperger's, autism, do they feel included, welcomed, valued? People of shorter stature. Something I've seen a lot over the years working as a physio where a lot of the ergonomic heights for things are set for people of greater than average height.
People who recognise as homosexual, and that's a huge proportion as well. recent statistics telling us that at least half a million Australians recognize, identify themselves as homosexual. So, are they feeling invited, welcomed, and valued throughout their employment lifecycle? Can we safely say that our policies and the way we enact them, encourage people to come play and stay? So there's the analogy there of the playground. Is there a sense that they can be part of that play and part of that activity safely and in an integrated way? What does success on this look like?
So what we highly recommend is that you take a human-centered approach. So what we mean by that is that people genuinely have a voice. And in the years that I've been a Knockhill physio, and as Chris kindly mentioned it's been quite a long time now, I have seen this play out in very different ways. When I consult with organisations about the way they communicate with each other at meetings, often they'll say, yes we give people a chance. But there's a very big difference in the way that we do that.
So, I'll give you two scenarios now, so, "Does anyone have anything to say?' Versus "We really want to hear your views on this, it's really important that we understand how you feel about the way this is working. Would anyone like to share their experience of how this workplace is going for them?" So the way we communicate is really crucial here. And when you do give people a voice, from diverse backgrounds, you build an organisation that's got greater innovation, that understands the community better because it represents the community better. So therefore more resilient as well.
The barriers to this though have to be recognised. The barriers are largely short term. It might take a bit longer to make decisions. It might be more complicated to make decisions. And those are important barriers to recognize because therefore we might just quickly just go with what we know. Remembering again what we started with here, crossing your arms the normal way, feels comfortable. Crossing it the other way, it's gonna take some time to get used to. So we might need to really commit to this to make it work. We might experience some conflict, the decision-making might be longer and more sort of elaborated. And that can cost money in the short term, and that's an important barrier to recognize, but it's well-worth really persisting and committing to. So just digging in a little bit briefly, we don't have a huge amount of time, unfortunately, but we'll just dig a little bit into some of the components of workplace design.
If all of you pop your arms down by your side now, what you'll find is that most of you, your wrist fold is exactly in line with your hips. But there'll be a proportion of you out there where actually your hands come lower than your hips and somewhere comes higher. And that's just the difference in what we call anthropometrics that we have different sort of length ratios if you like, between arms, legs, trunk. So we're all a little bit different, does the workplace accommodate that? Does it accommodate different strengths?
And that's particularly playing out where there is traditionally males in roles where we are looking to be a little bit more open and diverse with those roles now. So, the physical capabilities and set up and design of the job, is it inclusive? And is it adjustable for different shapes and sizes? Does it allow us to really enact this diversity that we spoke about? `Cause again it's one thing to say that we recognise diversity, it's another thing to facilitate it.
For example, this gentlemen of shorter statues, that's probably the correct way of putting it. People of shorter stature may find they have barriers to safely reaching controls in various workplace operations, like it's shown here. And until we reach out, until we have meaningful communication, and then the willingness to act on that, then we're no longer designing a workplace for diversity. In this instance, someone of shorter stature. That's another example the ingress and egress of getting on and off vehicles, it's a classic example of where we're not actually accommodating people from a shorter stature background as one example. We also can't tell... Ergonomics in vehicles is another one where it's really hard for the designers to get this right. And sometimes they are designed in places with different anthropometric data to places where they are being sold to.
So they do vary a little bit from place to place. And in this instance, you might have all the functions in a vehicle. It does all the things on paper that it's supposed to do, but until you actually get in there and work it, do you realise that, "Oh I've got to put my hand at a strange angle to work this particular apparatus". And the managers, the procurement team, don't know that unless they hear from people.
That allows them then to get that feedback, to then make the design changes or order in some consultation, some equipment that allows those design changes to happen. But where I've seen it break down time and time again is the starting point, the communication, the willingness of people to be in what we call a speak-up culture and say, "Hey, that's really uncomfortable." You see some of the different angles there on the screen. "It's really hard for me to work this particular aspect of this vehicle, this load or unload or whatever it might be".
The safety for them to say that, the willingness for workplaces to take that on board. This is all part of really building in a workplace that's designed for diversity. So again communication is the key there, leading to meaningful risk assessment and meaningful action. The other thing we need to be aware of is the sensory cognitive aspects of the people that we have, and that's a huge area in of itself. But we have a huge amount of diversity again, from person to person about these things in terms of literacy, language and how they regulate emotions. That really can vary a great deal from person to person. Energy management, some of them might be really battling insomnia, and fatigue might be coming in more than we realise.
And until we're reaching out and getting that data and designing our workplaces around that, it's very hard to overcome these issues. I think a good way of thinking about sensory neurodiversity is to consider two cups, one a larger cup and one a smaller. And for example, just to have one sense that we focus on for this we look at noise. So in a workplace, some people have a different level of tolerance for noise than others. Some people love a noisy workplace, they had a big family growing up, they were used to action and noise in life, that's comfortable for them.
So they have a big cup. like everyone, they have their tolerance point too, but you really have to fill that cup quite a lot before they are starting to get to their tolerance point, their threshold if you like. Others have a smaller cup, really they're only comfortable for a certain amount of noise before that starting to distract them, they're feeling uncomfortable, they are no longer as productive as they'd like to be, not participating in that workplace team. So big cup, little cup is an interesting metaphor for how to really picture that. We look at places where, and this is Medibank Private Docklands building. It's quite a famous example of a workplace that's built-in movement and agility into the office.
And it's something we are looking to do more and more. But then what does that mean around sound? Are there some repercussions like that, that people with diverse needs are struggling with? So how do we consider the acoustic management? And this is part of what ergonomists really emphasize in their design, that we have places that suit people of all needs. And acoustics management is a really important one. So we have these kind of often competing needs or sort of parallel needs sometimes that we need to juggle.
So these are human factors, different examples of some human factors here that we need to consider in our design. And keep in mind that we're just touching the surface today. There is a fabulous paper that backs this up that you will have access to as well, that dives a little bit deeper into some of the detail of this. But each of these of course is a whole presentation of its own. But with the human factors, is there taking into account different experience? for example, different heuristics, different interpersonal skills, particularly communication skills. To me that's one that's not recognised enough in workplaces, I think communication skills make a massive difference.
I believe strongly, that they can be trained and improved on more than people realise. But that's just one example of a human factor that we need to consider when we design for diversity. Some other ideas here. So if you consider some different needs, can we use colour more effectively? Bold, vivid cues for how we are traveling from one place to another. For me the great example of this is multi-level car spaces. And a lot of you like me will have seen the "Seinfeld" episode where they can't remember where they parked their car, and they spend I think the whole afternoon looking for it. You'll see now, and maybe they've seen the "Seinfeld" episode, I've got a lot of feedback, but you'll see now that each level tends to be a different colour. Are we in the green level?
Are in the yellow level? So not just having to remember numbers and letters. But some other ideas here in the picture. So, is the font easy to read? Is the signage clear? Can we use symbols? Can we use graphics? I've seen some organisations, for example with the occ Health and Safety policies and training, shifting away from just pieces of paper sitting in a filing cabinet, to graphics, to visual learning, even to animation so that it's crossing those barriers of language and literacy. So just some ideas there around how you can make this easier for people. Brief story on this one is I've just recently had my cousin sending me reminder articles of my grandfather who was an amazing person. He was an aviation engineer, and was directly responsible for a couple of important inventions. And one of them was the flight simulator.
So this is where, because they were losing so many pilots around the time of the second World War and immediately after, just trying to teach them how to do things. And there was a huge attrition rate. So, there was an important, really higher order risk control to create these flight simulators, where you could sit in a room and practice the skills to do your job, in this case being a pilot. So what opportunities are there with your workplace? What sort of opportunities can you simulate? The types of skills, the types of problem solving, you know, in a safe space where something is not gonna get damaged, or someone is not gonna get hurt.
Where you can sort of test that competency level to a point where they're ready to go out there and give it a crack? At some point, obviously that transition needs to happen. That can be a little bit more high-tech and it can start you know, being a little bit of a cost factor, but certainly worth reflecting on what opportunities are there for you. Moving on to socio-cultural. So, looking at different, you know, race and ethnicity, cultural backgrounds, all of these things need to be reaching in to the workplace design and how you communicate and connect with each other. So that's important as well. I think of Richmond Football Club here and creating a special room for, he's just retired this year, Bachar Houley, a fabulous champion for Richmond and really building their training around recognizing that as a practicing Muslim, he was praying five times a day and needed a safe, quiet, private space to do that.
Also during Ramadan, not being able to eat and drink during the daylight hours, what did that mean for training routines? It's just an example that came up for me when I considered this example. But you'll have your own examples of that. So religious experience and beliefs, as we just talked about there, maybe a background history that's relevant. And again, we don't know any of this, and we can't create workplaces that accommodate this unless we have meaningful dialogue. So it's tricky to really get that meaningful dialogue and really truly understand, especially with large organisations.
So one way we can look to cross this barrier is a fairly innovative concept that's come up in recent decades, known as "The Human Library". So this is around trying to break down people being misunderstood or stereotyped or stigmatised for ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, et cetera. Now for those who haven't heard of Human Libraries.
So this started in Denmark around 20 years ago now. You have the URL there, if you wanted to look at it later. A fascinating concept. Essentially, considering people having their own unique story to tell. People who may have been misunderstood or maybe we haven't had access to hear their story. So due to their ethnicity, religion, gender identity, whatever it might be.
So, the concept is that you basically select and reserve a human book much as you would a book at a library, then you have the opportunity for a 20 minute chat. So this is how it works when there's a human library event. It's really just an opportunity to have access to people, to people's stories. And from learning about their stories, to build your own database of knowledge that can help you to create, again sort of design a workplace to accommodate this diversity. Through understanding comes knowledge. It's a fascinating concept there that I recommend you look into. Okay, let's turn back to you and another Menti poll. So have you ever been, in your experience, misunderstood, stereotyped or subject to prejudice or stigma? So the Menti link is on your screen again. Have you ever felt misunderstood, stereotyped, subject to prejudice or stigma? If you can jump on that Menti link there. So menti.com, M-E-N-T-I dot com. Our number there is 2890 7063. So that number again, 2890 7063. I'll just give you a minute to answer there. It'll be interesting to see your perspective, while I have a sip of water. So we're looking to get some feedback here on whether you feel yourself that, you know, unfortunately firsthand that feeling. Being misunderstood, stereotyped, or subject to prejudice or stigma. See if we can see some of those results coming through. Then have if got any results there it's a little opportunity for you to reflect on that. Do we have any live results coming through there?
Oh, here we go. Oh, that's from the previous one. Okay. Oh okay, it's quite overwhelming. Some of you may be able to see what's come up onto the screen there. Okay. Yeah, and look there, there'll be so many stories within that, that we wish we had time to unpack. But I do recommend that you unpack that with a trusted friend. That's around 90% of people have answered yes to that. So that's a really large percentage. Actually, the numbers are going up. The numbers are climbing. So very high percentage of around 85% to 90% people Okay, So this is not just theoretical for us here. This is very much something that we are living and breathing. So thank you for sharing that.
Another aspect of design, and again, we're just skimming the surface, like a rock on these. But situational factors, what is their work history? Have they come to you from a positive work history, perspective or not? Knowing a little bit of background with the team that you have can really help to design the workplace to suit their needs? There's so many elements of that. That would be great to unpack.
For example, if we create something we see here the sort of devices that we capture data on in a workplace, is it a level of cognitive demand that's too high for the workers? Sometimes in our desire when we design workplaces to get all the information that we need, is it then too much that they can't interact with that device or that communication system accurately?
Particularly in a situation where accuracy is vital. And we think of health professional work in particular with that. This is, in a nutshell, what good design looks like. And I encourage you to, if you wanna look a little bit more into this, to look at the paper that will also be provided as part of the presentation today. So the three stages there: discovery, design, and realisation.
So in discovery, we're talking about understanding. And that's been a big focus today. Interviews, focus groups, blinded surveys, can be really helpful, anonymous surveys where people feel safe to really share what's happening for them. And there's no fear of repercussions in an instance like that if it's anonymous. Getting as much information as we can. When I go out there, I've done a lot of work as an occ health physio, where I help to make workplaces safe, particularly from manual handling or physical risks. And being honest, what I'm mostly I'm doing in that situation is taking wisdom that already exists in the workplace among the working team and just packaging that and reporting that back up the line.
And so there's an opportunity for us to build that into the workplace without the need for external people to do that for them. A quick example here, some work done by Dr. Sara Pazell, my colleague here at ViVA health at work. So some gentleman up in Queensland working the lines of the new highways being created there. Y'all think your roads in Queensland pretty much the best in the world. Aren't they? Let's not go there. And finding all sorts of issues through talking, through meaningful dialogue. Okay, and through that, then we can make meaningful design changes. So that's the next aspect of it.
So we design, once we have that data coming in, we understand the tasks, we understand the organisational needs. So an example of something that came out of this was you can see there in the picture, on the right-hand side, that there was all sorts of manual handling requirements involved with that particular job. That then with a little bit of just thinking a little bit more strategically with design, they were able to change to using this device, the roll runner, way more safe to use. Taller people were accommodated better. People with a history of low back pain were accommodated more easily. So just an example of where workplace design, through a clever process, can make a big difference.
And there's all sorts of aspects. That's just looking particularly at health and safety there. But we can look at all of these aspects in the same manner. Process is the key. We might look at, you know, soil sampling, for example, and the positions that people are in and the sensitivities that people might have to a job like that. And through clever work design, we can reduce the risks associated with work like that. One that I interact with a lot, and I'm sure many of us do, is office work. And I'm sitting here or standing in this case, I'm gonna go down. Now, you might be able to see me. I'm going to go back up. I'm sitting up there at the touch of a button. I can adapt this to whichever height I want to work at, be it in sitting or standing. And I can get it just right.
And without that adjustability, what we often find. So for example, with office desks, the standards on those are 68 to 72 centimetres. In other words, the average height that's ideal is 70 centimetres across the population from the ground to the top of the desk. But most desks at fixed Heights were just all set at 72, around 80, 90% of desks that are fixed height, are 72 centimetres high. That's suits taller people but we've got many people who've worked for years and years on desks that are too high for them. Again, we come back to this, they've got used to it. Okay, that's what they've always done. So they just think, "Oh, well", so their perching on the edge of their chairs and their arms are up. And the people are associating office pain with neck and shoulder pain and headaches because of a design flaw.
So this is changing. We are heading more and more into a height adjustability. But with that also, we need to have the education because the challenge of height adjustability, and when I do ergonomic assessments, then I see people setting them at all sorts of Heights. So there's also the understanding of how we set that to our ideal height. With the background I have and, you know, having been the national chair of the occ Health Group for some years, I also have my kids set to, you know, my kids they're 11 and seven.
So I have them set to exactly the right height, where the sit-to-stand desk. And hopefully that's what they're doing now. That's what they tell me that they're doing at the moment. That's pretty rare, I think. I think kids are sort of just plunked onto a desk of whatever height. So again, another example where we would need to accommodate people of different ages and different Heights. And we don't always do that well.
So finally realisation, communicating, celebrating what we do well, acknowledging the good stuff. It's not something that we always remember to do. So through consensus and through awareness, we can really help. And through workplace design and the process that we've talked about, we can really help to build workplaces that accommodate this diversity and they're more inclusive. And the rewards are just fantastic. We're seeing more and more architecture and community space that celebrates diversity as an example here.
And what we've noticed over the years with this is that our society is certainly multicultural and we've come to celebrate that, which is fantastic. But increasingly public spaces that are intercultural, I hope I'm getting the right term there, sort of interculturalism is that yes, we accommodate all different cultures, but also they blend and courage to blend. So, you know, multiculturalism is the starting point, but are we also working together and able to play together and work together? So that's a great aim for us all as a society.
And, you know, there's just so much to celebrate and so much richness in a society that does that well. And hopefully we've all got some experiences of that, where we celebrate diversity and where we have public spaces and workplaces that allow that interculturalism to mix successfully. There's challenges with it as we've spoken about today, but the rewards are certainly really worth that process. These are the key components. And again, just digging a little bit into some of the How here and how we do this well. So, hopefully you can see that clearly enough.
So for a work design framework to be well-designed for workplace diversity, we firstly need to have the capability in the first place. So the knowledge and the skillset needs to be in place, the knowledge of what workplace diversity means and therefore what design we need to make that work. We need to have the resources. So we need to allocate, you know, enough resources to make that possible. So people and also engineering and intellectual resources. Appraisal.
Now by appraisal, what we mean is meaningful measurement of that, meaningful evaluation of that. So that we know it's working or not working. So we have some meaningful data points on that. So then the outcomes sort of flow from that. Is it working? And knowing whether that's working.
So then communication plan, how are we going to communicate this in a way that gets to the vast majority of people, or all the people that we wanted to get to? What's the most effective way to do that? And we spoke briefly early on about, do we need more visual communication rather than, you know, often there's an emphasis just on the written word and just lines. It doesn't suit everyone to learn that way. Now finally reflections. So, you know, is this working? If it's not, let's be honest, what can we do differently? So what are our reflections here? If we are gonna change things, what do we need to change?
That moment of honesty is important with this as well. So that's just a snapshot there of design for workplace diversity and what that means at a sort of a structural level. The philosophy that we're looking at here is equitable. It's flexible, intuitive, it's era-tolerant. So when we veer off, we can see where we need to sort of veer back on again. Requiring little physical effort, So it needs to sort of just work quite easily.
And equality or equity the question there is do we work as strongly as we can to treat everyone equally? Or do we put some structures in place for equity? So for example, on a board we need to have X number of people under 30' X number of, you know... The gender balance needs to be such and such. So that's another equation too. Do we just sort of let it, see how it goes and really work hard for equality, or do we actually put some structures in place? So certainly that's a good discussion to have. There's different situations where one will work better than the other, potentially.
Now design philosophy. What are we trying to achieve? So access accessible to women, older workers, it's physically achievable, there's flexibility in the schedules. And certainly here in Victoria, this has been a huge issue. How do we build in flexibility when we are supposedly home schooling and doing all the things that make us hopefully keep us well all at the same time? A dog in the next door neighbours dogs chipping in on that. How do we balance all of that? Productivity is also something that's really interesting to look at. If we move to more agile workplaces, does that improve productivity or not?
So all of these things are part of the philosophy, if you like of, of design. Are we recognizing different indigenous populations, different cultures? Hopefully we've touched on that a bit today. Are we learning from them? Is there aspects of their knowledge and their wisdom that would inform our work design and make it better, not only more inclusive, but it really improve the way that we work. And I'm sure we have huge learning on that. So again, through diversity we can have workplace design that's more innovative and just works better. Okay, one more poll question. Do you have an integrated approach to design for diversity or inclusivity targets established in the language and key business indicators of every business unit? So that's gonna come up again.
The Menti, right there menti.com, same link, 2890 7063. We'd love to see your feedback on that. This is our third and final one. So do you have an integrated approach to design for diversity or inclusivity targets established in the language and key business indicators of every business unit? So I can get some results coming through already there. I might just say initially, bit of a mix. But there's a lot of uncertain in the first results on being sent there. Let's see what's happening over time here. That trend is continuing. So, what I'm seeing here coming through is actually slightly more than half of you were saying, you're not sure. So that's interesting. Only a quarter of you saying, "Every business unit" and about a quarter of saying "None". Sorry laugh on that. Just the symmetry of that is...
Okay so over time, the uncertain list is really skyrocketing and actually no business units is starting now to really shoot ahead. So we're seeing through that poll there, so thank you again, it's really helpful to get this data, actually, we're seeing more and more as that data comes in that approximately half of you are not sure. A fairly large percentage, so around about 30% are saying no, and about 20% are saying every business unit or at least two. So we're looking at about 50% of you not being sure. So it sounds as though this is something that needs much more attention too. Yep, so that trend is hitting even further in that direction. So over half, nearly 60% are not sure of the answer to that question. And, you know, at least to the 30% are saying, "No". Okay, so interesting.
And hopefully some ideas on that coming through. I do recommend that you back up this presentation with reading the position paper that will be also made available. And saying, if this can stimulate the creation of these policies so that our workplace is designed for diversity better. So in summary, the WHAT today was diversity and how workplace design can make a difference to that. The key aspect of that is a human approach. It's, task-based, it's system-based, particularly around how you communicate with each other.
What we're looking at is that there is no gaps in there and that the work design process and the framework that you work with really embraces diversity. That's the key to it. This has been part of ViVA health at work. I've been delighted to represent them today. I've been working with them for a couple of years now. I think it's one of the best organisations in Australia, but I'm biased at doing this stuff. And we have various aspects of how we work with organisations. You can see a summary of that there.
So some is focused on offices, some focused on, on education, on wellness. Always the key aspect of everything that we do is that workplace design is the absolute fundamental starting point for all of this and the point with which you can make the biggest difference when you're looking at embracing healthier, happier, more productive workplaces. It's been my pleasure.
My name's Dave hall. I'm an occ health physio based here in Melbourne on day 250 something of lockdown and having had to embrace all sorts of changes associated with that as my fellow Victorians will appreciate. And we have time for questions.
Yeah, back to the studio. David, we too in Queensland have had lockdowns, but maybe not quite as much as you in Melbourne in particular. So we do feel for our Southern counterparts. Let's get to the questions, David. Angela asks, "Interested to hear your thoughts on reasonable adjustments that have worked in your work places and the cost versus benefits".
Yeah. Thank you, Angela. I think, just one quick example, I've done quite a bit of work in the office space over the years. and I just think there's absolutely no excuse for not going with height adjustability. Like what I've got here, where it's a touch-button control where the whole surface comes up and down, rather than for example, what was used a little bit more, some years ago.
Where you would just put a device like Ergotrone, a very desk type thing, don't mean to pick on any particular brand names there. Absolute no brainer for me that you would get the whole device coming up and down with electric control. The cost now is absolutely a minimal difference. And the performance is so much better. I talked a little bit about the numbers before. So the average desk height for people is 70 centimeters. That's the end of the Australian data.
So if you think of a bell curve, that's the middle point of that bell curve. Slight gender bias there, where males tend to be slightly taller than females overall. But you know, the reality is that sitting at a desk, that's just the right height is fabulous. It's fabulous for our neck and shoulders and our back. So to be able to just set that just right and work at the right height is just a huge advantage. And it's very low cost nowadays, and so much better than the devices, the retrofit devices.
And if any of your sponsors now are upset at me I've been owning that. I've even said that it actually at a conference once, that was sponsored by one of the suppliers of them. So if I've done that, I can do it all. Now absolutely worth it for the cost. So that's one example, Angela. and come back if you had another, sort of area of work, I guess, that you were looking at.
But just while you're considering that, I guess the other thing, and hopefully I emphasized this today as well, is that, I can't recommend strongly enough the importance of investing in communication skills. So whatever area of work you're in, and I appreciate that the people joining today will be from very diverse types of work. One thing that's really a common ground there is the way we communicate. And particularly I'm talking about the way managers and supervisors communicate. So one of the things that, I'll get a little bit stronger in my wording on this.
One of the things with managers and supervisors is A, their core competency is how they communicate. That is the number one thing that they need to get right. But B, they often don't even realise. that little loans Let alone C, have training and skills in that area offered to them. And D, would say they're often not recruited for that skill. So I think that's a real point that we need to look at. With our workplace design, you know, are we allowing fair and honest communication? Do we have the skills? Do we have the skillset to encourage that? So I'll just throw those two in. I wonder if that touches.
Next question, David is along those lines of communicating with sensitivity, and communicating, you know, and getting a message across. The suggestion was, that it'd be great to have a more diverse workforce. But what happens if the job tasks require a certain amount of fitness or strength? How can we let an applicant know this in a sensitive way? So you know, we don't want them to feel bad, but they will have physical restrictions and we need to take that into consideration.
Yeah, it's absolutely important to own whatever the inherent capabilities of that job are. And that objectively, is not a discrimination per se. It's just saying, "Well, to do this job, you need this range of motion, you need this strength, you need this to be able to stand for this long, or sit for this long, et cetera, et cetera". So these are inherent objective capabilities within a job. And we need to, when we're employing people into that job or returning people back from an injury into that job, we need to be able to match those physical tolerance levels to the job. So that's just something you can be quite objective and safe.
But I will touch on that other point, because I think it's inherent within what we're saying there, Chris, is that there is a skill set around communication. I'll just touch on two or three key skills. For example, every time someone says something to you that you acknowledge what they say. So by acknowledging, it can be as simple as a head nodding up and a look. It can be a non-verbal or it can be "Okay, yeah. Thanks for sharing", it can be a verbal acknowledgement. And sometimes even that's missed, and that's telling someone that you've heard what they've had to say. That's not agreeing with them.
It's just saying, I heard you. And then that's the starting point. And then it goes from there in terms of validating someone who said something, that's not easy to say. So that's another level again saying, "Oh look, I really appreciate your honesty in being willing to say that, now that must have been difficult for you to say, I really appreciate that. I can see it means a lot to you". So that's another level, that's a communication skill to validate someone. Again, I have not agreed with that person.
I might be now about to explain, in respectful detail, that we can't do what they're asking. But I've acknowledged and validated what they've had to say. This goes a long way towards building, you know, inclusive teamwork.
All right, let's move on to Tina's question. And she says we have a diversity policy developed for the entire department. However, no targets set for all groups within the diversity model. Is this the norm with large departments?
That's a good question. I don't know if I have enough data available to say if that's an... I'd say it's definitely common, unfortunately. I'd say that, you know, we can just look at today's poll, couldn't we Chris? And see that many were uncertain, but there was a lot more nos than yeses on that. Let me just say "It's common" to the question, paused there. But to say norm is tricky because I'd like to think we're looking to shift that norm. Can I put it diplomatically like that?
Right, let's move on to Dai's question, David. And would you recommend setting the bar at the lowest common denominator, e.g in manual handling work, make all the work fit the smallest, least strong worker? This might be huge in work improvements.
It's a tricky one. I mean, I've done a bit of work in the disability and aged care sector. Where for example, setting the bed heights for handling, you know, setting the bed and setting the patients up for activity or for transfers and whatnot. And, and it's tricky. I'm probably not gonna agree with that in the way it was worded, but I understand what's being said. I think if it were possible, if you can match people up, of a similar capability, similar hearts, I know that's not always possible.
But the key aspect there is designing work so that the human kind of strengthen, and raw effort component of it is not the focus. But the focus is the technique that the equipment is used, that we're not rushing, we're not exerting ourselves. We're not using all the risk factors that we know we need to eliminate, or at least reduce. Awkward postures, sustained force, high force, unexpected force, all the things that we know can contribute to manual handling style injuries, that we do a good solid risk assessment process that includes all of the team. And we get meaningful input on that. So participatory ergonomics.
So if we're accommodating all the diversity that we can, so it's been referred to there that someone is maybe not as strong someone's maybe not as tall. We will at least have a more meaningful process and risk assessment. I know that's not quite answering the question, but I think the way it was worded it was probably... I'm trying to be a little bit diplomatic around that. We need to consider them absolutely in our risk assessment policies.
Just on that front to take it one step further, David. Can you see that there may be concern about automation and use of equipment leading to loss of jobs perhaps, or less employment that could be coming to fruition?
Oh, Chris, 90 seconds to go, you bring up a massive topic. That's absolutely relevant.
Yeah. Absolutely, that's coming back to philosophy. And I think, you know, without trying to throw a massive rock in the pond at the end of the session, the reality is that that has impacted innovation a great deal in a lot of sectors, hasn't it? you know, the fact that we do wanna still support employment, and yes you're right. As we work towards eliminating hazards and the risks associated with hazards. Absolutely, that's something that comes into play.
Maybe food for thought another day.
Yeah, yeah. It's another interesting... We could have a whole half-day philosophizing on that.
All right, I'll hold you to it down the track. Let's go to Andrew's question. And Andrew says "We don't have a policy in place for diversity. How do I get executive management to buy in for implementing this in my workplace?"
Well, I guess you'd be looking at case studies of people that do, and they do it well. I find in this area that if you have a close to equivalent organisation, that someone has potentially a personal relationship with where they can say, "Hey, how have you gone about it, and what's been the outcome?" And if they've had a positive outcome and if the way they went about it looks achievable.
I think that seems to be a good motivator for positive change, Chris, and the person who asked the question. Look, people work in different ways. Some people like to see stats and data. Now, some people go, "Oh, well, it's the law. We better do it". But it, my experience is actually, when you hear a story from someone you directly relate to, or you see an organisation similar to yours, that's done it Well. That seems to be a really strong motivator.
Okay, great advice. Last question, David, for you so I can let you off the hook now. Michelle asks, "With so many potential diversity issues in a large workforce, what suits some may not suit other. So the one size does not fit all as we know. As an organisation, how do we balance them all?" There's a bit of juggling to happen.
The magic word of communication is the key to the response there, Chris and Michelle. And hopefully that's been emphasized enough today. What you've said there hits the nail in the head. The reality is that we need this for this group, but that's gonna to be tricky for this group.
So in the end, when you are taking on diversity, and it's a challenge well worth taking on, hopefully that point was strong today, the reality is that it is more complicated and it does take longer, and it does require more collaboration and more input. But the reward is, you know, you are innovative, you are more resilient. You represent the society better because, you know, you understand all the competing sort of needs. So yes, it is a challenge, but meaningful communication, that's safe and open is the key to getting that right. Thanks, David, appreciate the presentation. And of course the question and answer session.
Pleasure, thank you. Thanks for sponsoring this, it's a great initiative. Well done.
Now, thanks to David Hall, joining us from Melbourne. And thanks everyone for your help. We really do appreciate your taking the time to join us here for another of our events. Today's presentation recording will be available through the portal, keep an eye out for it in the next week.
Don't forget, we have more presentations. I think there's two more as part of the Short Talk Series. Next week we have professor Sharon Parker where she will provide evidence-based practical steps to address some of the issues associated with COVID-19 such as isolation, work stress, the need for good organisational support and communication. A topic that is bound to raise interest with all of you, I am sure. And our very last Short Talk will be from Naomi Armitage, who will be looking at how fostering a culture of health and safety is no longer seen as a "Nice to have", but a necessity and foundation for the overall performance of a business. Another great presentation you can't miss.
And while you're there, check out the full range of industry and topic-specific video case studies, podcasts, speaker recordings, and webinars, and films, to help you take action to improve your WHS and return to work outcomes. These resources are free to download and share. So I encourage you to share them with your staff and your networks. Have a good day everyone. Remember, work safe, home safe. And I'll now leave you with a word from our event sponsor, No More Pain Ergonomics.
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