Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace
CSIA held the first in a series of Workforce Innovation Network events with a focus on mental health and wellbeing.
We heard from two very different organisations about how they support their staff’s mental health and well-being.
In this blog, we bring you some practical tips shared on the day that you can easily implement in your own organisation.
From policy to practice
The Junction Clubhouse Manager of Operations and Compliance Kathrine Scott shared how she engages her workforce every step of the way to move from policy to practice.
Kathrine explains how taking the time to do this process shaped a positive culture.
“It’s important to present your policy to the team for their ideas and thoughts. If you don’t get buy-in and they’re not invested, it’s not going to roll out successfully. Investment is the key underlying foundation to this,” Kathrine says.
The Feelings Wheel
One tool that has significant buy-in from both staff and clients at The Junction Clubhouse is The Feelings Wheel.
An emotional intelligence tool, the wheel is a quick and easy way to support communication and give more insight into how a person may be feeling.
“It’s a tool that can be used for a range of topics, say a new change in the office, or for supervision, or where there’s mediation needed. We use this every day to check in with members too,” explains Kathrine.
Kathrine’s top takeaway from the day is if your team isn’t invested, it’s time to try something new.
“We found that not everyone likes role play as a tool. If your team hates the tool, go back to the drawing board. Know the policy, know the need, redesign the tool after feedback. That way you’ll find a tool that works for you.”
A whole of organisation approach
Kathrine’s tips on team buy-in resonate with our next speaker The Community Lifestyle Agency (CLA) Innovation Manager Jess Lane.
“We have an understanding that taking care of our mental health and wellbeing is not necessarily specific to a staff scenario,” Jess tells us. “And so, whenever we hold events, initiatives, programs on mental health and wellbeing, we include participants, their family members, their informal supports, our volunteers and our paid staff.
“When we do it that way, it sets the culture and really sets the tone. The phrases, the terms, the tools we create together really helps with cohesion and creates a universal approach.”
One of the approaches Jess shares with us is a program called Rain Works. Rain Works is a water-repellent invisible spray that activates in the rain.
“We identified through research and conversations that rainy days were particularly difficult for our whole organisation. Our ability to engage with nature, get outside and exercise, connect with our family and friends can be compromised on rainy days.”
Jess and her team took to the streets using stencils to spray mental health messages that were reassuring and acted as reminders of what was good in the world.
“We were able to spray those all over the Fraser Coast and places we work, live and play. And on sunshiny days you didn’t know it was there, but on rainy days when you needed reminders, there was a visual cue.
“And that benefited our whole community, which is also great for our mental health. When we have a valued role in community and we’re serving others, we feel great!”
The power of the great outdoors
Whether it’s holding a walking meeting or on a picnic rug, working outdoors is highly encouraged at CLA.
“A picnic blanket and an iPad works just as effectively in Queens Park as it does in our meeting room,” says Jess. “If we’re all seated on the ground or at park benches, we’re all able to communicate on an open playing field.
“There’s no hierarchy that sometimes just can’t be avoided when you sit around the board table. And that really helps people to communicate openly and clearly.
“Walking meetings are also a pretty spectacular way for us to connect with people in an informal way, and actually squeeze in a bit of exercise, particularly for staff that get to management level. We do see that the focus on health and wellness tends to drop off a little bit.”
But what about those days when getting outdoors just isn’t possible? Jess has an innovative solution for that too!
“It’s not always sunny so we’ve designed a space in our building called the eco room where we’ve brought the outside in. So instead of carpet, we have Astroturf, there’s a water feature, we’ve even got a cloud system suspended from the roof.”
Taking a holistic approach
We know that there are so many contributing factors to people’s mental health and wellbeing including how we look after ourselves. And in this instance, CLA has a sleep hygiene and nutrition program for their staff.
The sleep hygiene program supports staff to consider all aspects of their sleeping environment. From the type of sheets on their bed to Spotify playlists, meditation and aromatherapy.
“Taking a whole of organisation approach in this way means we’re all emerged in a really important conversation all of the time,” explains Jess. “We try to make sure it’s always front of mind, if it’s in the conversation, it’s always on the agenda.”
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