Let’s Talk… Mental Health


Having a happy and healthy team is key to the overall success of a company. It’s not just about talking the talk and a fruit bowl. It’s about talking openly about mental health and putting systems in place to ensure a happy, healthy and motivated team. Work is important but we all have our own lives and personal ambitions.

A leader who understands that will be able to get the most out of their team. If you provide someone with flexibility, motivation and a positive culture- you will surely reap the benefits.

In this week’s Let’s Talk, we discuss the top things keeping teams happy, healthy and motivated.


Vu Tran, Co-Founder, GO1

To outsiders, happiness in the start-up space seems to be measured in ping pong tables, in-house barristers and flex leave but the reality of it is that we are all susceptible to the emotional challenges that come with working in a high growth business. R U OK is an example of a workplace initiative which I have seen save lives.

In my other life as a GP, mental health makes up more than half of the cases I see. Patients don’t present as sad or depressed but instead with poor sleep, feeling unmotivated with low energy levels and poor concentration. This then inevitably impacts on their work performance which can then snowball into taking someone from a top performing team member to someone struggling to keep their job.

According to Beyond Blue, one in five Australians experience a mental health condition in a given year. At GO1.com, we’ve had a notable trend towards HR and L&D managers looking for training on mental health issues which I believe is fantastic. But as leaders I believe we can all go that one step further when we notice someone struggling, show some empathy and simply ask “R U OK?”.

Erica Page, HR Director, Adecco Australia.

Mental health issues should not be a taboo in workplaces. The Adecco Group offers staff an employee assistance programme, which is a confidential, short-term counselling service to assist employees with work or personal issues. We also conduct regular talent risk audits to proactively assess workloads and recognise when people are in danger of burn out.

A safe environment that allows employees to discuss and get support is equally important. Personalities, cultures and genders significantly impact how people address their problems, so a diverse management team is needed to give everyone someone to speak to. We ensure managers are trained to be inclusive and respect all individuals to foster an open culture.

Physical activity also plays a key role in mental health. Our Win4Youth initiative means employees earn donations for youth charity Plan International for every minute of sport they log. This raises money for a good cause, while encouraging employees to get fit.”

Claudia Barriga-Larriviere, Head Of People, BlueChilli

 

BlueChilli is a company of benefits, not perks – which is one of the main drivers of our internal policies and structures. We don’t have catered lunches, laundry machines or fruit bowls. Instead, we want to make sure our team has the freedom, tools and knowledge to make the best decisions for themselves. We have a completely flexible working environment and generous leave policies that allow everyone on the team to work from where they are the happiest or needed the most. Our Sydney office also has a self-motivated weekly run club!

Health and happiness is a joint effort that ovulates between work and play, so we need to make sure we can embrace all of it without creating friction. Giving people the autonomy, flexibility and freedom to make their own choices has been the biggest driver for a balanced, healthy and engaged team. It takes teamwork, trust and faith – but it’s worth doing!

Robert Tadros, Managing Director and founder, Impress!ve Digital 

When you implement positive changes in the office to keep your team happy and healthy, motivation naturally follows. I believe that “work-life balance” should be more than just a buzzword. Our “Fun Committee” has become a monthly ritual, where team members get together to vote for what we do on our next team outing, which usually involve trying new experiences around Melbourne.

A table tennis table takes centre stage in the office and I find this provides relief for team members that want to get away from their desk throughout the day. As far as keeping the team healthy goes, I keep our office fruit bowl stocked every day and, because everyone here is very health & fitness oriented, I often make gym memberships and classes a sales incentive.

If you love where you work, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Linda Simonsen, CEO, Future People

Employees thrive professionally and personally in a happy and healthy workplace. Fostering a culture of transparency, appreciation, collaboration and diversity will help create a positive workforce that is powerful and motivating for all. It’s also important to have an open-door policy where employees feel comfortable talking openly and honestly about mental health. Leaders are encouraged to engage industry experts and attend educational events, like our upcoming Millennial Mental Health workshop, to adequately understand how to best manage and foster positive mental wellbeing in today’s workplace.

At FuturePeople we place emphasis on our employee’s emotional wellness, as much as their physical health. From a physical perspective we provide breakfast, health insurance cover, an extra 30 minute ‘nap’ break per day and yoga sessions weekly, as well as a predominately work from home model. When it comes to emotional wellbeing, all employees complete our 90 day Emotional Fitness Digital Learning Program which is an experiential, gamified, personal learning journey to support employees to develop their emotional and social intelligence at work and in life. This helps employees learn the valuable skills needed to enhance their own self-awareness, connect better with others and handle difficult situations with colleagues and customers at work. We’re particularly committed to fostering a mentally healthy workplace culture by taking a strengths based approach to building teams and assigning projects as well as focusing on how we make our employees feel. Having a ‘community of care’ approach to emotional wellbeing in our workplace, where it is the whole community’s responsibility to look after each other rather than just the manager or a ‘mental health specialist’ has worked well for us.

Aaron Green, Head of SAP SuccessFactors, ANZ

Mental health issues have been the leading cause of sickness-related work leave in Australia, costing us $12 billion annually. While week-long awareness raising initiatives are to be applauded, workplace mental health should be a 24/7 issue – and it starts with HR. A few steps I believe can contribute to a happier, healthier and more motivated work places include:

  • Stop measuring mental health based on absenteeism. By that point work it’s already too late. Let’s start by tying managers’ performance evaluations and KPIs to their teams’ wellbeing.
  • Pay heed to and be well armed with the right statistics to show why mental health in the workplace matters – the cost of staff accessing vs. not accessing employee assistance programs, for example.
  • Take action to protect workers’ right to disconnect. Safe Work Australia found that ‘work pressure’ is the leading reason for work-related mental disorders. A major factor is the encroachment of work into our personal lives.

Jess Van Der Walt, Talent Manager, Employsure 

Happy people make great things happen for our business and most importantly, for our clients so we invest in them in various ways. Providing funds for additional education, additional personal leave days, wellness initiatives, charitable giving, family benefits, and modified working hours as top priorities. The principle is that happiness and health extends beyond the hours of work. Your people need to live their best life – outside of work.

Georgina Drury, Founder, Springday 

At Springday we know that mental wellness is interrelated across the five pillars of wellbeing including, emotional, physical, financial, career and social. To be mentally well you need to have awareness that all factors have an impact on your wellbeing and then have practical tips and tricks on how to influence your wellbeing in your day to day life. Springday employees are not collocated in the one place and our wellbeing platform allows us to connect and come together as one. We use our own product to encourage our staff to regularly put their wellbeing first by using our wellbeing checktool to assess their current state and then use the interventions available within the platform to assist them. We encourage regular collocated employees to get together and celebrate wins and successes as a team. By having multiple strategies we are able to continuously boost engagement and productivity across the company.

Michael Caggiano, Chief Commercial Officer, ONTHEGO

We’re big on values at OTG. Mick Spencer, our CEO, lives by the principle that ‘Every Day Matters’. OTG has therefore built its company culture around this mantra and when you live and breathe this philosophy, you notice that your employees come to work every day with passion and purpose.

At OTG, we believe in an inclusive culture. We have an open door policy where everyone can openly engage with anyone, no matter your position or seniority,  where everyone’s voice and opinion is as important as each other. To promote inclusivity, every Friday the whole office sits down as one unit and enjoys a company lunch together. The catch is, Friday lunch is a “technology free zone” and topics of discussion are to be non-work related. In doing so, we really get to know our staff on a personal level. We care about our people and celebrate special events like birthdays and achievements as a team. The business really operates like a big family.

To keep our teams motivated we also emphasise that each future day matters. At OTG we actively support career progression and planning. As part of our business strategy, we actively push our employees to find a career in OTG that fits their life’s passion, irrespective of their backgrounds. For example, if you have a finance degree but what to be a fashion designer, that is okay with us. If that is what someone in our team is passionate about, then we want to  work out how we can get there together!

Sophia Zhao, Managing Director, E2 Media

We have a really supportive work environment at E2 Media. We understand that sitting at a desk all day can lead to back aches and pains, so to alleviate some of these pains, we offer our employees a standing desk, back support cushions, and the most beloved item in the office – a massage chair.

To promote a healthier work place, we have also placed the water station at the far end of the office. This ensures that people need to walk a little bit further to fill up their water bottles and get a few extra steps in.

On Fridays, we do a casual team catch up where we all go for a coffee and get to know each other. Once a month, we also get our staff social committee to organise an out of office team building activity such as the City2Surf to promote team bonding.

To promote healthy competition, we also have an “employee of the month” trophy which sits on an employee’s desk. Team members will nominate their peers and it is all just a bit of fun.