Workplace Stress – Hans Selye once said It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. I couldn’t agree with this more. After all stress affects us all, many of us on a daily basis. Stress is not about to leave our lives anytime soon so the best idea to live with stress, is to learn how to handle it.
Stress in the workplace may be derived from many avenues such as feeling under appreciated or undervalued by your employer or employees, working too many hours, not taking designated breaks or avoiding taking time off. All of these are examples of how the workplace can lead to stress. Then there is stress that comes from an employee’s personal life such as relationship breakdown, financial hardship or social rejection. You probably guessed that stress in someone’s personal life will almost always resonate in their professional life in some way, no matter how hard they try to hide it. Eventually, any stress that is not dealt with accordingly will boil up inside to the point that you may not notice the stress anymore and in fact, it may seem normal to wake up and go to bed feeling stress. Whilst getting rid of whatever it is that is causing you stress isn’t always an option, there are ways in which you can manage it in the short and in the long term to enable you to continue working at your best.
Some tips for fast acting stress relief:
Count to 10 and slow your breathing. If counting to 10 isn’t enough, count to 30.
It might sound silly, but just as someone with an anger problem stops for 30 seconds to give their brain time to react sensibly, the same is known to happen with stress. Sometimes all the brain needs to react appropriately is time. If you find yourself at work completing a task or near someone that has put you into a stressful state, close your mouth and take a slow deep breath for 10 seconds. If your stress has reached a critical level, try and excuse yourself to the nearest bathroom to close your eyes for a short time and focus on nothing but your incredibly deep and slow breathing. Each inward breath should be 5-10 seconds long, the same speed for each outward breath. This 2 minutes in the bathroom could be the difference between you saying something or doing something that you may immensely regret so if you feel your blood boiling, take a quick break to cool down.
Get yourself a coffee or drink of water.
Whether you’re in a busy office or on a warehouse floor it can be easy to get caught up with being busy. Just remember that whilst not every employee is entitled to overly regular coffee breaks, every employee IS entitled to drink water and have bathroom breaks. If your water bottle is empty but your flat out, look for the next available gap and go to fill your drink bottle up then. Water is what will provide oxygen to your body and without it, all those busy tasks you need to get done are going to get done a lot slower and possibly with mistakes if you don’t allow yourself to drink water throughout the day. Fact: when we are thirsty, our body’s are already in dehydration mode.
Tips for longer lasting stress relief
Take your designated breaks
Just like forgetting to drink water it can be easy to forget about taking your tea or lunch breaks or simply think your ‚ ≤too busy’ to take them. If your one of those people who eats lunch at their desk or works through an eight hour day (not allowed) without a break thinking what harm can it do, then you may be in for a shock. Not allowing yourself to take a break will almost always lead to tiredness, forgetfulness and lapses of concentration. Not surprisingly, this is when most workplace accidents occur and probably when most minor and major mistakes are made. We have all skipped a lunch break or a tea break at some point but don’t make it a habit. We all need to rest, relax and regroup and taking just a thirty minute lunch break can be enough time for you to grab a coffee, eat your lunch, make a phone call, go to the bathroom and be back at work fresh as a daisy. Trying to clock an additional thirty minutes of work in exchange for making yourself tired and not noticing how close your hand is getting to the machinery your using is simply not worth it. So go on have a break, and why not have a Kit Kat.
This word used to excite people. Now it probably just causes anxiety and further stress to mention it to some bosses in fears they will say NO and make you feel like you will lose your job if you ever take a holiday. You work hard, you deserve to take your holidays. Got a strict boss who hates people having time off? Try and plan your holidays around your busiest times and give as much notice as possible. If your planning on taking more than a week off for a scheduled holiday, then consider that two months is not an unreasonable amount of notice in which to ask your boss for the time off. Asking to take a week off next week and you may very well be pushing your luck.
So to recap
Allow time to breathe
Drink lots (of water)
Take your designated breaks
Try and take a holiday or at least some time off each year
As 2018 progresses enjoy the workplace but stay safe
As we step into February and New Year is firmly behind us, we look to the year ahead and all that it will bring – new appointments, new staff, new offices, and fresh opportunities requiring new strategies! However, these may all bring potential hazards that need to be looked at! What we mean to say, is that now is as good a time as any to make sure your company’s health and safety is up to date. Enjoy the workplace but stay safe.
Fresh HR Insight believes that enjoying your work is just as important as working hard in the workplace. Employees and employers who take time for enjoyment alongside their responsibilities tend to have the healthiest workplace dynamics. Yet as we look at new plans and budgets, we can’t help thinking that maybe it’s time to look, at the same time, at whether our workplaces are safe and compliant with the law!
New strategies come with overtime, and overload of staff! Whatever the business, whether a small trader or a huge conglomerate, tasks increase when new ventures are started. Under so much pressure it is easy to let safety matters slide.
In 2012, the Australian state and territory governments brought the WHS Act and Regulations into force in order that all workplaces and workers would benefit from consistent workplace health and safety law. Yet here in Queensland we have the highest rate of workplace accidents in Australia.
It should be remembered that employers, employees and customers can suffer because of lapses in good health and safety practice, and that one person’s playground, is someone else’s workplace.
Last year, Australia marked one year from the terrible tragedy at Dreamworld in Gold Coast, when 4 people lost their lives and 2 young children’s lives and those of their families were left traumatised. Whilst investigations continue and the accident’s cause is still not clear, it is currently and widely believed to be an accident that should not have happened.
In 2015, a man tore his shoulder ligaments after lifting heavy classroom equipment too quickly. Under pressure to get the job finished, he let his own safety take second place. 2 years later, after many surgical treatments and a lot of pain, his health is still impacted and he cannot go back to work.
Here are some more instances of workplace incidents from Workcover Queensland
It is easy to bypass the safety of people when other pressures are given priority, and as we plan new work the stresses ahead are great, FreshHRInsight wants to highlight how crucial it is that workplaces develop the policies and procedures that, once in place and adhered to, can mean fun without risk to life and limb.
Fresh HR Insightwill advise you and your management team on how to make health and safety top of the priority list and both a corporate and individual responsibility. This will ensure that any pressure brought to bear in the workplace – for any reason, at any time of year – will not displace the safety measures that you, your workers and customers need.
Domestic Violence – Employers Can Make A Real Difference To Employees Experiencing Domestic Violence Through Targeted And Appropriate Support
The term domestic violence or domestic abuse refers to aggressive behaviour or actions carried out against a victim by someone inside their home or family, usually a partner or a spouse. The behaviour of the perpetrator is characterised by manipulation and domination in such a way that the victim is always in a state of fear for their general safety and well being. The perpetrator also threatens the victims so the victim feels horrified to talk to anyone about the abuse and hence, silently takes the blame. Domestic abuse has a wide range, it also includes financial and psychological abuse by a spouse or a partner.
Importance of Support
Domestic violence is on the rise and it is time that calculated steps are taken against it to ensure that this disease does not spread further into our societies. All victims of abuse first and foremost require support more than anything else. If they have the right kind of support system, it becomes easier for them to speak out against domestic abuse and then embark on the road to recovery. Having the right kind of support circle also reduces the risk of domestic abuse occurring in the first place, as perpetrators often prey on people who are isolated or loners because they know it will reduce their chances of getting caught.
Of all the different kinds of support a person may have, support from the workplace and employers is one of the most important. The employer can provide a safe environment to the victim where the victim does not feel judged. This results in strong benefits for the employer as well, as it raises employee morale and reduces absenteeism. There are different ways through which the employer can offer direct and indirect support to victims of abuse. Some are listed below.
Leadership Role: The employer should take the role of a leader and start conversation regarding such issues, especially domestic violence so the employees know that their work will support them if they speak up against such kinds of abuses.
Clear Policies: The employers should develop clear policies regarding such issues. Policies should be put in place about supporting the women who are victims and clear guidelines should also be established about about safe workplace environment free from discrimination, harassment or bullying.
Provisions: Make provision for flexible work arrangements. For example, very small things like allocation to another department of the company or allotting a different parking spot can help the victim avoid the perpetrator. There should also be arrangements for leave for the victim, if the need arises.
Awareness: Awareness about this particular issue must also be raised through different campaigns and programs. It should be made clear that the organization condemns all kinds of abuse, including domestic abuse. The employer’s reluctance to speak up against such issues makes them a partner in crime to gender inequality issues all over the world.
Links to Support agencies on the Gold Coast and Across Queensland for Domestic Violence
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION CENTRE– We are a not for profit community based organisation providing specialist domestic violence support services. Established in 1992, we provide a wide range of programs to support women and their children affected by domestic and family violence. We also work with men who perpetrate domestic violence. Through the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Integrated Response we partner with government agencies, non-government agencies and other women’s services to continue to improve responses to domestic and family violence as we work toward achieving our goal of ending violence against women. We hope you will find the information here useful.
We provide services in the following locations:
Beenleigh, Eagleby, North Gold Coast area
Southport Magistrates Court
Coolangatta Magistrates Court
DVConnect Womensline – In Fear or Anxious Around your Partner? Call our Womensline. Phone 1800 811 811
DVConnect Womensline is the only state wide telephone service offering women who are experiencing domestic or family violence 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We offer free, professional and non-judgemental telephone support to you, wherever you live in Queensland. We can arrange practical assistance such as counselling, intervention, transport and emergency accommodation for Queensland women and their children who are in danger from a violent partner or family member.
Believe it or not DVConnect Womensline takes around 4000 calls every month from Queensland women who are in fear of or in immediate threat of danger from domestic or family violence, and on average we assist over 350 women and often more than 400 children to be moved to safety every month.
Workplace Bullying – the impact beyond the workplace
Most people might not agree with the phenomenon of workplace bullying or the fact that it actually exists but the truth is that it not only exists but it also results in creation of an unhealthy environment in the office, factory, warehouse – any workspace. In literal terms, bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could possibly mentally hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Sometimes these acts could also involve physical assault such as hitting, tripping, pushing, slapping, spitting or in worst case scenarios, stealing or destroying possessions of the other i.e. deleting someone’s important work files from their computers in their absence etc.
Workplace bullying is when your boss or coworkers assert power on you through aggression, which results in you feeling intimidated, offended, degraded or humiliated. Verbal bullying is more likely to take place in workplace related situations, such actions include spreading malicious rumours or gossip to portray a negative image about an employee, excluding or isolating someone from social gatherings happening inside the office, withholding necessary information or purposely giving the wrong information to an employee to restrict him/her from giving the required output to the boss, belittling a person’s opinion during office meetings or presentations, etc.
Workplace bullying definitely exists but it often becomes difficult to draw a line between strong management and bullying. Comments or demands that are objective and intended to provide constructive feedback or improve employee performance, do not come under the definition of bullying, but are instead intended to improve organisations internal working conditions and overall output.
Workplace bullying heavily impacts a person and their working capacity, not just inside but also outside the organisation. Inside the organisation, an employee who is a victim of constant workplace bullying might end up taking a lot of days off from work or stay extremely stressed, which in turn affects the organisation because that person will become less productive. There might be instances where the victim becomes so depressed that he/she would have to get some treatment or enrol in an assistance program, for which the company will have to bear the cost. Apart from that, the victim will continuously have a decreased morale and lower motivation level which will definitely affect the current standing of the company, in a negative sense. There is a high chance that the victim stops performing his/her duties well, even when it comes to interacting with corporates from different organisations or the general customers of the company, which then results in reduced corporate standing and decreased customer confidence.
But the impact of workplace bullying is not just restricted to within the organisation, it also affects an individual personally in his everyday life. Feelings of helplessness and frustration are highly likely to develop in a person because of the bullying he/she faces every day, which might make them depressed to the extent of harming themselves or taking their own life. The constant bullying may as well result in the victim putting that stress within their family life, resulting in fights with spouses to the extent of physical abuse and divorces. A victim might also become less confident about themselves and face the issue of low self-esteem because of which there is a possibility of them not being able to do tasks properly or concentrate on anything at all. Physical symptoms such as loss of appetite and health issues, and psychosomatic symptoms such as stomach pains and anxiety/panic can also be experienced by a victim or workplace bullying.
What is and What is NOT workplace Bullying
Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour, directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. It includes both physical and psychological risks and abuse.
‘Repeated behaviour’ refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can refer to a range or pattern of behaviours over a period of time (for example, verbal abuse, unreasonable criticism, isolation and subsequently being denied opportunities – ie a pattern is being established from a series of events).
‘Unreasonable behaviour’ means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would expect to victimise, humiliate, undermine or threaten another person.
Managing staff does not constitute bullying, if it is done in a reasonable manner. Managers have the right, and are obliged to, manage their staff. This includes directing the way in which work is performed, undertaking performance reviews and providing feedback (even if negative) and disciplining and counselling staff. Examples of reasonable management practices include:
setting reasonable performance goals, standards and deadlines in consultation with workers and after considering their respective skills and experience
allocating work fairly
fairly rostering and allocating working hours
transferring a worker for legitimate and explained operational reasons
deciding not to select a worker for promotion, following a fair and documented process
informing a worker about unsatisfactory work performance in a constructive way and in accordance with any workplace policies or agreements
informing a worker about inappropriate behaviour in an objective and confidential way
implementing organisational changes or restructuring, and
performance management processes.
Bullying is a serious risk to the health and safety of workers. Under the relevant health and safety legislation (the “Legislation”) and associated regulations and codes of practice, the primary duty to eliminate or minimise, as far as reasonably practicable, the risks to health and safety (including psychological health) in the workplace is imposed on a person conducting a business or undertaking (“PCBU”). For the purposes of the Legislation, an employer is a PCBU and therefore bears the primary responsibility.
We have developed a policy to assist employers in meeting their legal obligations under the Legislation, associated regulations and codes of practice and thereby to eliminate or minimise bullying in the workplace. The policy provides that bullying will not be tolerated and presents mechanisms for disciplining those who engage in such behaviour in the workplace. In addition, the policy provides formal and informal mechanisms for dealing with any complaint relating to bullying.
At Fresh HR Insights we ensure that all workers are made aware of the policy, the standards that are expected of them and the consequences for breaching the policy. If you would like to discuss getting a workplace Bullying Policy in place please contacts us on 1300 332 322
Training sessions about the policy should (as a minimum) take place as part of the induction of new workers and in specific training sessions for existing workers. However, your workers should be reminded of the policy on a regular basis. This may involve conducting regular ‘refresher’ sessions at which workers are taken through the policy, sending out emails in relation to the policy and where it can be accessed, or using one of the other methods set out above.
Please note that the Legislation requires that as a PCBU, an employer must, as far as reasonably practicable, consult with its employees or others carrying out work, before making decisions on health and safety matters, including bullying. If there are health and safety representatives then they must be involved in the consultation process. Consultation must be carried out when developing policies and procedures relating to bullying, including complaint procedure. Consultation involves sharing information with workers and health and safety representatives, allowing then to express views and taking those views into account.
Workplace Bullying – The impact beyond the workplace
Most people might not agree with the phenomenon of “workplace bullying” or the fact that it actually exists, but the truth is that it not only exists, but it also results in the creation of an unhealthy environment in the office. In literal terms, bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could possibly mentally hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Sometimes these acts could also involve physical assault such as hitting, tripping, pushing, slapping, spitting or in worst case scenarios, stealing or destroying possessions of the other i.e., deleting someone’s important work files from their computers in their absence, etc.
Workplace bullying is when your boss or coworkers assert power over you through aggression, which results in you feeling intimidated, offended, degraded or humiliated. Verbal bullying is more likely to take place in workplace related situations, such actions include spreading malicious rumors or gossip to portray a negative image about an employee, excluding or isolating someone from social gatherings happening inside the office, withholding necessary information or purposely giving the wrong information to an employee to restrict him/her from giving the required output to the boss, belittling a person’s opinion during office meetings or presentations, etc.
Workplace bullying definitely exists, but it often becomes difficult to draw a line between strong management and bullying. Comments or demands that are objective and intended to provide constructive feedback or improve employee performance, do not come under the definition of bullying, but are instead intended to improve organisations internal working conditions and overall output.
Workplace bullying heavily impacts a person and their working capacity, not just inside but also outside the organization. Inside the organization, an employee who is a victim of constant workplace bullying might end up taking a lot of days off from work or stay extremely stressed, which in turn affects the organization because that person will become less productive. There might be instances where the victim becomes so depressed that he/she would have to get some treatment or enroll in an assistance program, for which the company will have to bear the cost. Apart from that, the victim will continuously have a decreased morale and lower motivation level, which will definitely affect the current standing of the company, in a negative sense. There is a high chance that the victim stops performing his/her duties well, even when it comes to interacting with corporate from different organizations or the general customers of the company, which then results in reduced corporate standing and decreased customer confidence.
But the impact of workplace bullying is not just restricted to within the organization, it also affects an individual personally in his everyday life. Feelings of helplessness and frustration are highly likely to develop in a person because of the bullying he/she faces every day, which might make them depressed to the extent of harming themselves or taking their own life. The constant bullying may as well result in the victim putting that stress within their family life, resulting in fights with spouses to the extent of physical abuse and divorces. A victim might also become less confident about themselves and face the issue of low self-esteem because of which there is a possibility of them not being able to do tasks properly or concentrate on anything at all. Physical symptoms such as loss of appetite and health issues, and psychosomatic symptoms such as stomach pains and anxiety/panic can also be experienced by a victim or workplace bullying.
Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd has partnered with the AMAZING Dr Ruth Knight who is a respected Culture, Change and People Specialist. As part of this we are offering all our clients and prospective clients a Complementary one hour session on Bullying.
If this is of interest to you connect with us TODAY. (valued till 31st May 2016)
How to beat the hangover from the New Year celebrations and get back into the working week again
Beat the hangover – New Year celebrations
The month of December is nearing its end and soon this year will also slip away from the calendars of the world. “Beat the hangover – New Year celebrations”. Christmas will fill the shopping theme and would soon be followed by the New-year Eve. Every year people round the world would drink, dance and party to celebrate the Christmas closely followed by New Year. That is almost a week full of joy and merrymaking. So far! So good. The hard part is shunning that hangover and getting back to work.
The Mentally Crippling Side of Worker’s Compensation
When an employee is injured at work there are many problems that may lie ahead for them in the future. The obvious repercussions of a work-related injury can be that the employee is in too much pain to return to work months or possibly years after the injury has occurred. Even after a worker’s compensation claim is made, it takes time for it to be processed and for the worker to receive any financial compensation. In the meantime, the employer may begin to suffer from post-injury depression.
In our last edition we looked at buying new items for your operations, today we will look at introducing those items into your operations.
The biggest mistake is to ‚ ≤assume’ that everyone will know how the new item works or that they will ‚ ≤pick it up’
In the past many people would simply buy a new Widget and expect people to use it without adequate preparation & training. With the demands on manufacturers to constantly innovate there are often new features on equipment that was simply not there before or the functions have changed to allow for a wider range of features.
The biggest mistake is to ‚ ≤assume’ that everyone will know how the new item works or that they will ‚ ≤pick it up’. The short amount of time it takes to
(1)study the operation of a new item
(2)summarise the important points and
(3)hold a training session, is time well spent when you look at the potential costs associated with not doing so, such as lower productivity, damaged stock or personal injuries.
For example, we were recently called to a business with an industrial saw, in the rush to remove the old saw and start using the new one, no training had been done. It turns out that the new saw had clear instructions that an adjuster should not be set past a particular point other than in very specific applications. These instructions were never read and the staff had set the saw up just like the previous unit. It turns out the saw was being damaged whilst on this setting and over time was not cutting stock the way it was designed resulting in unusable stock, frustrated staff and many wasted hours of labour to ‚ ≤repair’ the damage on each item.
Luckily no-one was injured but it is a clear demonstration of how good health & safety practices can also help improve the bottom line. In this particular case the total time for the preparation & completing the training session (supervisor to read instructions and prepare short training session with 8 staff x 15 minutes) would have been about 4 hours, so say $160 in direct costs.
The costs in damaged stock, equipment and lost production time was estimated at $4,500-$5,000. That doesn’t even consider the morale lowering effect of not doing things right in the first place.
The WorkCover records are full of injuries resulting from inadequate preparation for newly introduced plant & equipment into business operations. Take the time, do it right and reap the benefits now and into the future.
Our team have recognised training qualifications and experience, if you have any queries simply make contact, we are always happy to help. Ph 1300 332 322 or email email@example.com
If you have read our last two installments you will have noticed that we are focused on involving all the relevant stakeholders (usually staff but not always limited to just staff) to gain perspective, input and assist in understanding the hazards & risks in the workplace as well as coming up with the best solutions.
In our first safety instalment we looked at various approaches to identifying hazards. Now that you have identified the hazards what do you do next?
You need to understand the actual risks associated with the hazard. That sounds simple enough but often it is more multi-faceted than you think. Have you ever wondered why so many people get killed every month and why so many are badly injured? It is often due to the fact that the people within the business did not fully understand all of the potential risks associated with the hazards in their operations.
Fresh HR Insights is delighted to announce the formation of a strategic partnership with Emilio Barlin who has joined us as our Workplace Health and Safety Consultant.
Workplace Health and safety is a big topic and we know that many of you are unsure where to start.
Over the coming months we are going to do a series of articles on helping you improve the health & safety performance of your operations, regardless of your industry, so let’s go!!
You know your health & safety probably isn’t quite where it should be but what is the first step in starting to improve it? That depends on factors such as location, industry and experience of staff BUT, normally, identifying the hazards in your workplace and your operations is a great place to start.
How? There are many ways to approach this but for most businesses the simplest way is to just ask!!
Workplace health and safety obligations apply to everyone involved in a business. Ensure you meet your obligations by familiarising yourself with the laws and following them.
Safe Work Australia Month (safety month) is on now! Held around Australia throughout the month of October, safety month encourages people to get involved in and concentrate on safety in their workplace to reduce death, injury and disease.This year’s theme isWork safe. Home safe which reminds us that the most important reason for making our workplace safe, is not at work at all.Join thousands of workplaces around Australia who will be taking part in safety month to improve their health, safety and wellbeing.
If you don’t meet your workplace health and safety obligations, you are putting people’s health and even their lives at risk. You are also breaking the law and you may face penalties or prosecution