New Zealand’s Magazine for Human Resources Professionals
Mental Health Awareness The case for ok-nomics Māori mental health Mental health in 'hard-to-reach' sectors
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MANAGING EDITOR Kathy Catton Ph: 021 0650 959 Email: email@example.com
From the editor H
ave you noticed how it can sometimes feel like we’re in an ‘always on’ culture? Like organisational psychologist, author and TED-Ed speaker Adam Grant, I think it’s time that leaders call out workaholic behaviour to combat this culture that can lead to employee burnout. I know I’m guilty of feeling like I could always be doing more, but I recognise that, if I don’t take adequate time away from my work, I and my friends and family around me suffer. In this issue, we shine the spotlight on mental health awareness. With Mental Health Awareness Week scheduled for later in September, it’s the perfect time to celebrate our people and be aware of their mental wellbeing in the workplace. Thanks to our friends at the Mental Health Foundation, we can all come together to educate our people on issues concerning mental health and therefore eliminate stigma and encourage positive discussion on the topic. Big thanks also to Skills Consulting Group, who have sponsored this issue. Check out their special feature on The Case for Oknomics on page 12.
sectors. We also asked some of our members what they’ve learnt along the way with their own personal mental health journeys. Their responses are both heart-warming and inspiring. Human Resources magazine aims to be people-focused, forward-thinking and practical. We are here to serve HR professionals and leaders who want insights into how highperforming organisations operate. Human Resources magazine helps guide people through change and provides people-centred advice for its readers. If you’d like to share what your organisation is working on, we’d love to hear from you.
Kathy Catton Managing Editor Kathy.Catton@hrnz.org.nz
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We have articles on why promoting mental health is essential and what our role as HR professionals has to be in this space, and we take a deep dive into what two organisations are doing in those ‘harder-to-reach’
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FROM THE HRNZ CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Top of mind W
e’re in the process of reviewing the HRNZ Competency Framework. One of the competency descriptions contained in the existing framework is:
Business understanding: Understand how the organisation achieves its business goals, and how it’s affected by internal and external factors (this includes knowing about financing options, growth strategies and how a business is structured). The intention behind including these types of factors in our competency framework is sound. However, I worry we have bought too heavily into the narrative that we need to understand and use the language of business to achieve credibility as HR professionals. I wonder whether this kind of thinking might be distracting us from the real purpose of our existence. We’re here to speak the language of people. That’s our role. We’re not here to bring the value of people down to dollars and cents; I think maybe we have lost the battle if we allow ourselves to be taken too far down that path. Yes, we need to be commercial in our thinking, but our expertise lies with understanding people. In my experience, decisions about people and how we treat them always come down to values. The steps we take to improve diversity
and inclusion or introduce wellness programmes into the workplace will always be values-based decisions. The most successful employee wellbeing programme I’ve ever seen was introduced because the CEO had a strong personal commitment to health and fitness. There were no business cases, just what do we want to provide for our people, and how do we best achieve that? The conversations HR people need to be having within their organisations are the ones about values. We do need to have compelling propositions based on a real understanding of our people and the context they are working in. We live in a world where we all understand that the sustainability of our organisations is reliant on our people. HR professionals need to keep this front of mind for everyone in the organisation and ensure there is accountability for how people are treated. This issue of Human Resources is all about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. In recent years, there has been an increasing acknowledgement at a macro level of the important role mental health plays in achieving global development goals, as illustrated by the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals. According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the leading causes of disability, and
suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds. Many risk factors for mental health may be present in the working environment. Risks to mental health include: • inadequate health and safety policies • poor communication and management practices • limited participation in decision making or low control over one’s area of work • low levels of support for employees • inflexible working hours • unclear tasks or organisational objectives. HR professionals will be at the forefront of helping their organisations provide a positive working environment that supports improvements in mental health for employees. What organisational leaders need from the HR or People and Culture team is valuable insights and advice on how they treat their people. If investments are needed in new initiatives to support improved mental health outcomes, then let’s leave the number crunching to the CFO.
Nick McKissack Chief Executive HRNZ Nick.McKissack@hrnz.org.nz SPRING 2022
In this issue 12
Special feature: The case for ok-nomics Jane Kennelly from Skills Consulting looks at what the research is telling us about employee wellbeing
Māori mental health Human Resources magazine sat down with Dr Maree Roche to discuss Māori mental health in the workplace
What should HR do about mental health at work? Ceara Nicolls, research associate at Umbrella Wellbeing, asks what HR’s role is in supporting mental health at work
HR’s wellbeing stories HRNZ members share their experiences of managing their own mental health in the workplace. Lauren Parsons provides expert tips on HR wellbeing
Mental health in ‘hard-to-reach’ sectors Editor Kathy Catton investigates what two organisations are doing to destigmatise mental health
Shaping the profession
Immigration Law Update AEWV: Complexities and challenges to watch for – Rachael Mason, Partner at Lane Neave, outlines what to watch for with the new Accredited Employer Work Visa system
Case Law Review Mental health issues examined – David Burton, Employment Law Barrister, looks at a recent case and the mental health implications that employers must consider
Research Update How to create a healthy work environment – Anna Earl and Fiona Edgar outline recent research into how we can create mentally healthy workplaces Am I Managing? Natalie Barker, Southern Cross Health Insurance, shares her heart-warming insights into being a manager
From the Editor Kathy Catton
Top of Mind Nick McKissack CEO HRNZ
News Roundup The latest news to keep you up to date
Sustainability The link between mental health and sustainable development – Bridget Williams from Bead and Proceed looks at which of the SDGs have health and wellbeing front and foremost
Employment Law Update Employers’ obligations for mental health and wellbeing – Sianatu Lotoaso, Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, examines the critical role employers have when it comes to mental health and wellbeing
HR Technology Supporting mental health at work – Brian Donn, from Ceridian, looks at how organisations can get started in raising mental health awareness
Books to inform and inspire Ruth Garside reviews the latest reads to inspire and inform
Diversity and Inclusion Why wellbeing is really about equity – Dr Kaisa Wilson from ACC looks at what the organisation is doing to address mental and physical health
HRNZ Member profile Henriette Scheepbouwer shares her career highlights
Professional Development Spotlight Michael Hempseed and Julia Shallcrass look at how we are addressing the tidal wave of mental health challenges
People Powered Success
16 SPRING 2022
Business burnout still being ignored
ewly released data from the Skills Consulting Group Work Wellbeing Index reveals New Zealand’s average wellbeing score is 61 out of 100, consistent with last year’s national score (62). However, the Index shows a third of Kiwi businesses still don’t have any kind of wellbeing programme in place, despite one-in-three employees saying they have either experienced burnout or know someone in their workplace who has. “The fact that one-third of Kiwi businesses still haven’t got the message means there is a mismatch between what employees need and what businesses are offering. If
businesses don’t take heed they will pay with people on long-term sick leave, growing attrition rates and increased recruitment costs,” says Jane Kennelly, General Manager Wellbeing, Skills Consulting Group. The research also shows that certain industries and other demographics are struggling more than others with burnout. The highest levels of burnout are in the government (47 per cent) and health care (48 per cent) sectors. Meanwhile, women were more likely, at 41 per cent, than men (34 per cent) to experience burnout in the workplace. According to Kennelly, there is a way forward and it starts with
understanding Ok-nomics. This concept, which focuses on if staff ‘are OK’ and feeling valued, rewarded and listened to, will create a culture of success. Staff who don’t feel this way will have the opposite effect. “Once leaders understand and accept this concept they can look at the wellbeing drivers and start pulling together a strategy to transform their workforce. It’s about identifying what your people need and treating the cause – not the symptoms.” For more on this story, go to the article on page 12.
NZ HR Award submissions open
RNZ opened its annual awards submissions in August. The NZ HR Awards recognise excellence and outstanding achievement within New Zealand’s HR community. The Awards provide individuals and HR teams with the opportunity to
take part in a process of discovery, awareness, acknowledgement and achievement that provides an insight into the value HR adds to organisations. The 2023 Awards will include three new awards. These are the Wellbeing Leadership Award,
Academic Impact Award and Building Sustainability through People award. Entering is easy, and the HRNZ website provides templates and working documents under each Award category. Submissions close at 5pm on Monday 31 October 2022.
Fair Pay Agreement
air Pay Agreements are coming, with the Fair Pay Agreements Bill expected to pass into law by the end of this year. The new law will provide a framework for collective bargaining for industry- or occupation-wide Fair Pay Agreements or ‘FPAs’ that will set minimum employment terms for that occupation or industry group, including minimum hourly rates, overtime rates and penal rates. FPAs can apply to any industry or 6
occupation in any sector. Unions will be able to initiate bargaining for an FPA if it represents at least 1,000 employees or 10 per cent of the employees in the proposed coverage or it meets a public interest test. Giuliana Petronelli, Associate at Anthony Harper, suggests that “employers should begin developing a strategy now and holding discussions with industry partners to ensure they have a voice at the bargaining table.” The National
Party has indicated it will repeal the law, if it wins the election, but employers should be prepared for bargaining before the election and in case the Act is not repealed. Once an FPA is in place, employers will be bound by it regardless of whether they were represented during bargaining.
New Whistleblower Act
he Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022 came into force on 1 July 2022 replacing the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. The new Act continues the old Act’s purpose, which is to facilitate the disclosure and investigation of serious wrongdoing in the workplace but clarifies and extends the definition of serious wrongdoing, enables people to report serious wrongdoing to an appropriate authority at any time, strengthens the protections for disclosers and provides guidance
to receivers about the process they should follow when they receive a disclosure. An ‘appropriate authority’ refers to the head of any public sector organisation, an officer of Parliament and a membership body of a profession or trade. Of particular note, the new Act has expanded the definition of ‘serious wrongdoing’ to include a serious risk to the health and safety of any individual. Employers have responsibilities as receivers of protected disclosures in relation
to confidentiality and ensuring no retaliation or victimisation occurs to the discloser or their associates. The Act also requires public sector organisations to have appropriate internal procedures to deal with protected disclosures. Anne Wilson, employment law Partner at Anthony Harper, advises employers to implement or review their Whistleblower Policy to ensure protected disclosures are handled appropriately in their organisations.
BOOK REVIEW RUTH GARSIDE
Books to inform and inspire Help is at hand with timely resources for HR practitioners navigating transformational change initiatives and uncertainty. These three books provide valuable guidance.
Jacob, K., Unerman, S., & Edwards, M. (2020). Belonging: The Key to Maintaining and Transforming Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work. Great Britain: Bloomsbury Business.
esearch from Dynata (2020) about workplace culture in the United Kingdom and United States of America uncovered troubling opinions, such as one in four people have felt excluded or marginalised at work because of their beliefs, personal circumstances or identity. The authors of Belonging argue that greater cultural diversity, especially at a senior level, provides an opportunity to increase business success in the current dynamic environment, and they question why HR efforts to improve diversity fail. A range of micro-aggressions that undermine inclusion are identified and techniques are suggested to encourage a culture of belonging that specifically relate to women and have general application to LGBTQI+ and BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) employees.
Some repetition of ideas occurs and the application of techniques ‘active mindfulness’ and ‘transactional analysis’ are under-developed. Conversely, advice on “how to disagree with the boss” provides useful tips for anyone who wants to seek equality of opportunity.
Pinder-Amaker, S., & Wadsworth, L. (2021). Did That Just Happen?!. Boston: Beacon Press.
comprehensive guide for organisations aiming to create cultures that are sustainably diverse and inclusive. The two authors, renowned North American clinical psychologists, apply a variety of skills and strategies to short case studies to illustrate their efficacy from the perspective of both the user and the discriminated. Readers are challenged to be aware of their own biases that become ‘identity-related aggressions’, which can have a cumulative psychological and physical impact on the targets, and steps are suggested to encourage internal (individual) and external (organisational) longterm systemic change to address power imbalances. Learnings from ways to overcome long-standing disparities resulting from abuse of power of racism that “still infiltrates United States society today” (p 63) can enrich our own striving towards equality in New Zealand. Much of the advice can be generalised to increasing our cultural empathy in other
domains such as sexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism and xenophobia.
Kettle, M. (2022). Fully Connected. Australia: Mel Kettle (reviewed by Kathy Catton)
eadership specialist Mel Kettle provides a practical guide for leaders on how to prioritise themselves, reclaim lost energy and find joy. With increasingly blurred boundaries between work and life, it can be difficult to find time for this, but it’s essential for sustained leadership success.
Drawing upon extensive experience working with diverse clients such as Toll and ANZ, Mel shows leaders how to become fully connected so they can take back ownership of their life, reclaim their health, energise their workforce and create cultures of belonging. In a unique three-step framework, readers learn how to shift from surviving to thriving. Accessibly written and filled with tools and tips, Fully Connected empowers leaders to unlock the power of selfawareness and self-care to become a fully connected leader. Ruth Garside, CFHRNZ, is passionate about HR, after a long career in HR and I/O psychology in the United Kingdom and New Zealand as a practitioner, OD consultant, lecturer and researcher. Although retired, she still keeps up to date with employment law and HR initiatives relevant to today’s work environment.
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HRNZ MEMBER PROFILE HENRIETTE SCHEEPBOUWER
HRNZ member profile Human Resources magazine caught up with Henriette Scheepbouwer, People and Culture Manager for Spunlite Poles, Windsor Urban and Steelgal NZ Ltd. We asked her about her career and thoughts on the role of HR in Aotearoa today.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
n a personal and professional level, becoming President of the HRNZ Canterbury Branch has been a real highlight. I also value becoming a Chartered Member of HRNZ, because it validates that what I know is up to industry standard. On a smaller scale, but just as significant, receiving supportive text messages from staff members while facilitating company redundancies was also a very heart-warming moment. (“Good luck today, we know this is a tough time for you too”.) And I have also appreciated receiving feedback from staff members who told me I have made a difference in their lives.
What inspires and motivates you in your career and why? Growing up in the 1980s in The Netherlands with a dad and brothers who worked in the ports of Rotterdam made me understand the struggles and issues workers have, especially when times are tough. My dad was a foreman and union man, and, even back then, he would not give way if the health and safety of a staff member or his team were put in jeopardy. 10
In my career, I have always had a good sense for business while having a people-first approach. My primary motivation and inspiration come from being that bridge between the staff and management and giving all parties within a business a voice. I truly believe that, once people come together and work towards the same goals, the business is stronger and more profitable, and everyone will benefit from that.
What do you see as the challenges facing HR right now?
The health and wellbeing of the HR professional is a big issue right now. Ever since COVID-19 hit our shores, HR professionals have had a significant increase in workload. The board and senior management teams have been looking to HR professionals for advice, guidance and direction. In a sense, they expect that we know what needs to be done, while for us, this was all new as well. Many professionals have taken this on board and used this as a point of growth and personal development. However, most HR professionals have received added workload without the proper support or removal of other tasks that fall under our profession. I think there is a serious risk of HR professionals either stepping out of the role or simply being harmed by the workload. Besides this, a more considerable emphasis is on health and wellbeing, again loaded onto the HR professional. We are tasked with coming up with strategies for health and wellbeing; we are
tasked with opening conversations around mental health and with the pressure to encourage mental health. Most HR professionals do not have a psychology degree and should not be having these types of conversations with staff members. We should merely be a bridge between the mental health professional and the staff member. I think it will be a big challenge to either keep HR professionals within the role and healthy or to attract new professionals within the industry.
How has HRNZ membership helped you fast-track your career? HRNZ has given me the opportunity to grow my network and meet some incredible and amazing people with a wealth of knowledge. They have given me the chance to work on my personal development and to create opportunities to establish myself as an HR professional within New Zealand.
Anything else you think our readers would find interesting?
To those studying HR, don’t be afraid! Come along to the HRNZ events throughout the country and start working on your network. Even if you don’t have an outgoing personality, we would like to meet you. You will also gain a lot of practical knowledge from talking to people in the industry. To the seasoned HR professionals, hang in there, we are here to support you. HRNZ is working on a peer support service to make sure you can get the help and support you need.
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WELLBEING JANE KENNELLY
The case for Ok-nomics Now is the time for organisations to take a closer look at their culture and start creating a state of Ok-nomics. Skills Consulting Group’s Jane Kennelly explains more.
et’s face it, New Zealand continues to experience uncertainty as it transitions back into a country that is ‘open for business’. The change and upheaval we have experienced is unlikely to go away quickly and perhaps not at all. Forget the new normal, we need to focus on the next normal; and, to get it working, an important factor will be wellbeing. In the second year of Skills Consulting Group’s Work Wellbeing research, it’s clear that measuring the wellbeing of workers is still a definite indicator and predictor of an organisation’s success. Businesses that are embracing wellbeing practices are not only seeing better business results, but they are positively affecting the lives of their people, which in turn creates better outcomes for New Zealand as a whole. However, this year’s Work Wellbeing research highlighted warning signs. Cracks are starting to appear, and, if 12
these aren’t addressed, it could affect staff morale, add fuel to the fire of the so-called ‘great resignation’, and ultimately affect the financial success of businesses. It really is a case of Ok-nomics. “Ok-nomics is a concept that states that if staff feel valued, rewarded, and listened to, they will create a culture of success. Staff who don’t will have the opposite effect,” says Jude Manuel, Wellbeing Business Development Manager at Skills Consulting.
So, what did the research say?
An important out-take of this year’s research was the relationship between satisfaction, motivation, effectiveness and retention, and
the effect of wellbeing initiatives on all three. Workplace satisfaction was 10 per cent higher for those who believed their organisation was committed to developing a wellbeing culture. In turn, people who were satisfied were massively more motivated and effective in their role and less likely to leave.
Burnout at work on the rise It’s not a new headline, in fact, the media have been talking about it ever since the beginning of the pandemic. And the facts speak for themselves. A growing number of Kiwi workers are on the edge of burnout, with the research saying 37 per cent of those interviewed have either experienced burnout
themselves or have worked with someone who has. Women are more likely than men to experience burnout – 41 per cent of females surveyed said they had – while government, healthcare workers and employees in organisations with more than 500 staff members are at significantly higher risk of suffering from it. Characterised by exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of reduced professional ability, burnout can result in a drop in productivity and
the growth of negativity that can spread throughout a team and organisation quickly.
Wellbeing solutions – one size does not fit all
There is no magic bullet, and, in fact, a one-size-fits-all wellbeing solution doesn’t exist. Why? Because every business has different issues and employees have different needs. The Skills Consulting Group Work Wellbeing research showed that inequities exist for certain people
from different cultural, gender and age backgrounds. Although the needs of men and women were not substantially different, women had more complex requirements in terms of workplace wellbeing. For women, it’s less about remuneration (although that’s still important) and more about work– life balance, flexibility and mental health support. Millennials want their workplace to acknowledge they have a life
Employees who believe they have a supportive manager
The company genuinely cares for my wellbeing
The company enables me to care for my own wellbeing
My manager genuinely cares for my wellbeing and acts upon it
The company enables me to care for the wellbeing of others inside and outside the workplace
The company has structures and programmes that ensure my wellbeing at work is cared for
My team members/ colleagues care about my wellbeing
My team members/ colleagues care about my wellbeing
OVERALL WELLBEING SCORE
outside work and to support them to engage with non-work commitments. They want emotionally intelligent workplaces offering a mental health focus, and support time away from work as a tool for being more productive. They also want to be trusted, with less micro-managing and more opportunity to set their own pace and schedule. Māori employees crave a whānau-like team where they are acknowledged as individuals and given help with work as well as praise for doing things well. This group also feel they could be paid more competitively. Asian employees (excluding Indians) feel better pay, and being paid on time are high priorities. As a group, they say they haven’t experienced this cohesively, leading to feeling undervalued. However, Asian employees say they also want flexible working arrangements and less micro-managing. Like millennials, they want increased trust from managers and to feel listened to.
Managers a vital part of the equation
Skills Consulting Group’s research did point towards potential solutions. “Clear communication, flexible working, and willingness from managers to get their hands dirty when things were busy were all cited as critical to a wellbeing culture,” says Jude. “Managers play a critical role in being supportive and identifying issues, however, they need upskilling on how to do this. They aren’t psychologists, and they do need to know how to respond. So this means supporting managers with a structured wellbeing programme and giving them the tools they need to be the ‘first responders’ for their people.”
The research supports what we already know: getting your work wellbeing strategy right is critical to your people and your business. And this means identifying the issues the
business is facing and addressing the needs of your people. Doing it well will result in more motivated and productive employees, lower staff turnover and improved general happiness. This leads to a healthier profit, less recruitment expenditure and a business that is contributing to the economic wellbeing ecosystem of Aotearoa. The principle of Ok-nomics has come home to roost, investing in wellbeing makes financial sense, and it’s time to take it seriously.
Jane Kennelly brings over 33 years of HR consulting experience to her role as General Manager of Wellbeing at Skills Consulting Group. Jane was involved with WorkChoice Trust for 22 years and was Chair for eight of those years. She is also the founder and trustee of the Fantail Network, a charitable trust that supports, connects and enables women in business. With expertise in many areas, Jane has created numerous community and wellbeing initiatives including the ‘NZ Top Office Dog of the Year’, designed to support positive mental health in the workplace.
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SUSTAINABILITY BRIDGET WILLIAMS
The link between mental health and sustainable development Bridget Williams from Bead & Proceed looks at which of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have health and wellbeing front and foremost.
e’ve all heard the saying, “you cannot pour from an empty cup”. One must take care of oneself to have the strength needed to care for others. However, the demand for care required in the world right now feels overwhelming. From COVID-19 to the war in Ukraine to the growing climate crisis to monkeypox, it’s hard to know where to put your effort of
support. And, in some cases, the effort can feel fruitless. This can lead to anxiety, burnout and depression. It’s no wonder one of the 17 UN SDGs is dedicated to health and wellbeing: SDG 3.
The relationship between mental health and the environment is inextricably connected, so it makes sense that when we care for the planet, our mental health improves. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, “there can be no health or sustainable
development without mental health”, highlighting one of the themes of the SDGs and sustainability as a whole: it’s all interconnected. While SDG 3 focuses explicitly on mental health, achieving this will require action across all 17 goals, for example: • having a sense of purpose and feeling valued in the workplace: SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth – target 8.3 and target 8.5 • staying curious, finding your vocation, and continued growth and learning: SDG 4 Quality Education – target 4.3, target 4.4 and target 4.5
• having a connection to nature and access to quality green spaces: SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities – target 11.7 • eating nutritious food that supports our bodies and brain function: SDG 2 Zero Hunger – target 2.2. Let’s also not forget the other SDGs that play a fundamental part in our survival and basic needs: No Poverty (SDG 1), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10), Climate Action (SDG 13), Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16), just to name a few. The relationship between mental health and the environment is inextricably connected, so it makes sense that when we care for the planet, our mental health improves. It’s a cycle: nature gives us the environment to flourish; when we flourish, we have the mental and physical capacity to help our community and give back to nature. However, if we really want to build our resilience and level up our sense of connection, working towards a set of goals is fundamental and can improve “your attitude, which can be beneficial in all phases of mental health recovery”. What better goals to work on than the SDGs, right?!
The Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association highlight that going green has significant health benefits, including: • giving you a sense of purpose: being part of something that is “bigger than you but better because of you”, as said by Dr Lane Perry, is hugely fulfilling • teaching you to be mindful: sustainable living is known to help people develop a clearer consciousness and focus on the bigger picture, which is to protect our planet’s health from deteriorating • boosting mental wellness by joining sustainable communities: having a sense of belonging and knowing you are part of a movement that’s going towards lasting change can be a lifealtering experience.
I believe it’s as simple as focusing on doing ‘the next right thing’. There’s no doubt that taking action towards sustainable development is in our best interests, both mentally and physically, as we move into the future. This leaves the question: how do we make an impact now, especially when our action feels like
a drop in the ocean, or our capacity feels so limited? Honestly, I believe it’s as simple as focusing on doing “the next right thing”, a quote from Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, and most recently, the character Anna from the movie Frozen II. Now, I am no mental health expert, but that movie is sure to fill your cup and lift the spirits.
Bridget Williams is the founder of the social enterprise, Bead & Proceed, which exists to educate people about the 17 UN SDGs and inspire action towards them. Her passion for sustainability and using creativity as a tool for innovation has made her a recognised SDGs expert, assisting organisations with sustainable strategy and SDG reporting. Bridget is a selected World Economic Forum Global Shaper and member of the Asia New Zealand Foundation Leadership Network, which has led her to become a creditable global change maker. Her efforts have been recognised and endorsed by the Rt Hon Helen Clark and the JCI Osaka Outstanding Young Person’s Programme.
CULTURE AND CHANGE CEARA NICOLLS
What should HR do about mental health at work? Ceara Nicolls, Research Associate at Umbrella Wellbeing, summarises the research and provides answers on what HR can do to create effective, proactive and meaningful mental health strategies.
he effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health has resonated worldwide, with the first year of the pandemic triggering a 25 per cent increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression. Despite many countries (like New Zealand) including mental and psychological support as part of their COVID-19 response plans, the past couple of years have caused widespread disruptions to our lives, affecting many people’s health and wellbeing. Although many of us may feel like we are coping okay, July 2022 data from Stats NZ shows a significant rise in poor mental health, with around one-in-three Kiwis saying they are experiencing poor levels of mental and emotional wellbeing. Most New Zealanders are likely to meet the criteria for a diagnosis 18
of mental illness at some stage in their lifetime (remember, diagnoses include problems with alcohol and drug use, as well as issues like anxiety or depression). Mental illness and poor wellbeing are unfortunately common, and have a measurable impact on business outcomes. The good news is these outcomes can be reduced, including through the actions of HR teams to support wellbeing in their workforce. So, what can HR practitioners do to create effective, proactive and meaningful mental health strategies?
We know that poor wellbeing and mental health are real issues. In fact, during 2020, an estimated 81 per cent of New Zealand company boards discussed workplace mental health issues, which was a large spike compared with 2019. But let’s get real for a moment. Although it is encouraging to see mental health being discussed in the workplace, many business leaders may be shy of the costs they imagine to be associated with wellbeing programmes. Mental health may be a ‘hot’ topic, but effectively
managing it can involve ‘hot’ concepts like ‘time investment’ and ‘budget requirements’, which may turn even well-meaning leaders off. By setting out a clear business case that highlights the effectiveness of mental health measures in affecting bottom-line organisational outcomes, HR teams will have better luck bringing senior leaders and board members to the table. When building your business case, consider where your senior leadership team may fall with regard to the following three motivations. 1. Legal: Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, a legal duty of care exists to support and protect people’s mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. With the rise of mental health awareness in the workplace, business leaders are asking for support to better understand their obligations and meet them.
important thing in this world? It is people, it is people, it is people. 3. Financial: The research tells us the return on investment for strengthening wellbeing and mental health in your workplace is, on average, $3 for reactive support and $5 for proactive support. Based on previous research, we know this return on investment is supported by the fact that: – employees take fewer sick days (absenteeism) – presenteeism is reduced and productivity is improved
– staff turnover is reduced as is the cost of replacing staff – a brand bump occurs for companies known to take staff wellbeing seriously – an organisation’s ability to attract talent in tight human resource markets is improved – businesses are better able to cope with shocks (eg, COVID-19). With a clear business case in hand, ensure your mental health programme is successful by: 1) taking a strategic approach, 2) setting up the conditions for
2. Ethical: The stress we experience at work is often a major factor contributing to mental illness. Morally and ethically, more and more business leaders are realising it’s the right thing to do to look after their organisation’s people. He aha te mea nui o te ao? Māku e kī atu, he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. What is the most SPRING 2022
success, and 3) providing proactive, not just reactive, support.
Taking a strategic approach
Building mental health at work requires a strategic approach. This involves defining your organisation’s goals and expectations, measuring your people’s current mental health levels, tailoring your initiatives to suit your unique situation and remeasuring regularly to assess whether your strategy has produced results.
Developing clear expectations
First, before diving in and making changes, take a step back and make sure your purpose is clear and you are on the same page as your organisation’s people and leadership. Ask questions like: What changes would we like to see in our organisation? What would good mental health practices look like for us? What outcomes are we hoping to achieve?
Once you are confident you’ve set out a clear purpose and goals for 20
your organisation, find out your people’s current, or baseline, mental health levels. One way to do this is to partner with an external provider to get an unbiased snapshot of how employees are performing across various mental health and wellbeing measures, and the work and nonwork factors that are contributing. Whatever your method of getting data and knowing your people, it’s crucial you can identify, with confidence, the areas where people need support and their areas of strength. This is important for developing a proactive wellbeing strategy that delivers tailored interventions uniquely suited to your business and your people.
Once you have the data, use this detailed knowledge of your people’s mental health and associated organisational factors to inform and tailor a unique mental health programme for your people, through strategy, planning and, finally, action. Any actions you take, whether isolated interventions or comprehensive programmes, should
map to what you already know about your people and bring you closer to achieving your wider mental health goals.
The next step for all mental health initiatives is to check in and review your progress. Regular review of your wellbeing strategy is vital to make sure you are on track towards reaching your overarching purpose and helping your people. A pulse check, or reassessment, where you compare progress against the data you collected before implementing your mental health programme, can identify improvements, stuck points and areas for further attention or intervention.
Setting up conditions for success through leader actions
Many factors contribute to the success of any mental health programme. Unfortunately, there are too many to cover here, but one – leadership role modelling and buy-in – can make a big impact when we get them ‘right’.
Our Umbrella team often hear that conversations about mental health are some of the most anxietyprovoking for leaders. To most effectively support team members who may be struggling with their mental health, and to promote good mental health proactively, the following actions are a great place to start. • Engage in training. Make sure leaders have been properly trained and equipped with practical tools and actionable knowledge for understanding psychosocial risks, creating psychologically safe teams and managing mental health at work. • Set the tone. In the executive suite and at every level beneath, leaders can foster trust by making it clear that wellbeing is a top priority. • Role modelling. Leaders are in a unique position to rolemodel wellbeing activities, such as flexible working around family commitments, taking sick leave to avoid presenteeism or exercising during a lunch break. This produces a positive and significant impact on employee behaviour. • Put your wellbeing first. Leaders should prioritise their own wellbeing first, thereby helping to send a non-negotiable message to teams that work should not come at the expense of physical, mental or whānau health. Actions like these separate out leaders who pay lip service to wellbeing but are ‘too busy’ themselves to participate or to take any meaningful steps towards a healthier workplace, and those who embody and encourage wellbeing as a top priority.
Providing proactive, not just reactive, wellbeing support
When managing workplace mental health, it is important to know what to do to both proactively and reactively
support people’s wellbeing in the workplace. Proactive support involves maximising protective factors for mental health and wellbeing and giving them the best support before it is needed. A good proactive approach to mental health will take into account factors such as tweaking organisational policies, eliminating or minimising psychosocial risks (eg, high workload or poor manager support) and training and awareness-raising. You’re making sure staff have the tools and resources to meet any future mental health challenges head-on, as well as stopping challenges from occurring in the first place. Reactive support, on the other hand, involves responding to your staff’s mental health needs after these become an issue. While proactive support is generally considered the gold standard of mental health management, sometimes mental health issues come to the fore for reasons we cannot control. Reactive support involves targeted efforts for groups who are already struggling. Also important is demonstrating good peer support and leadership in flexing around struggling staff members, and using good communication to boost awareness for internal support services (eg, EAP or peer support programmes).
Proactive support: Training and awareness-raising
In combination with great leadership and a proactive approach, mental health training programmes and follow-ups are effective ways to equip staff with the knowledge and practical skills to manage their own mental health, and to support others. Any training programme should consider critical vulnerabilities or areas of risk identified during the initial ‘data collection’ step of your mental health strategy. Also important is to consider the type of training, the expertise of those
delivering it (are they evidencebased and psychologist-led?), and whether the content is well suited to the diverse roles of employees in your organisation. Does one size fit all, or is a more nuanced approach needed?
Proactive support: Policies, communication and promotion Finally, think about how you might build mental health into organisational practices, policies, communication and promotion. For instance, you might consider including a wellbeing check-in as a standard part of stand-ups and staff meetings. Or, think about how you might include wellbeing goals as an (optional) component of the annual review process. When your organisation succeeds in making mentally healthy work part of your business as usual, your organisation and your people will thrive, creating healthier teams, workplaces and communities.
He aha te mea nui o te ao? Māku e kī atu, he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. What is the most important thing in this world? It is people, it is people, it is people.
Ceara Nicolls (PhD) is a Research Associate at Umbrella Wellbeing, alongside a team of psychologists who provide workplace wellbeing support. Armed with a doctorate in social cognitive psychology, a passion for science, and a daily cup of caffeine, Ceara spends her days hunting down the latest findings in workplace wellbeing, mulling over academic research articles, and penning evidence-based content for Umbrella’s publications. Ceara’s work helps to build scientific rigour and a strong research base for Umbrella’s newest development projects and offerings, making a concrete and positive difference in the world of mental health, wellbeing and organisational outcomes. Learn more at https://umbrella.org.nz/cearanicolls/
INSIGHTS KATHY CATTON
Mental health in ‘hardto-reach’ sectors Human Resources magazine takes a closer look at the work of two organisations seeking to enhance mental health awareness in their workplaces.
onstruction and transport are two industries keenly aware of the confronting issues relating to mental health in their workplaces, specifically the high rates of suicide and customer aggression. Fulton Hogan and Auckland Transport are working hard to make their mark on reducing these tragic events and supporting a more positive workplace culture, where people are encouraged to thrive.
away from home. Loneliness is a big issue,” says Sarah Mason, Wellbeing Manager at Fulton Hogan. By nature of the work they perform, workers often have to work next to roads and highways, and often face abuse from passing drivers and travellers, who are resentful of the work being carried out. “This abuse does impact our people,” says Sarah. The combination of loneliness, abuse, fatigue and an ageing male workforce, who typically don’t like to talk about their feelings, means there was an absolute need for Fulton Hogan to act. “Our leadership team are fully on board with ensuring our people are
supported as best they can be,” says Sarah. “Yes, they need to be fit to do their job, but our executive team understand the wider impacts within Fulton Hogan; they see themselves as role models to encourage others to take their health seriously.” Fulton Hogan works with Mates in Construction, a suicide awareness charity, which has been operating on worksites in New Zealand for over 18 months to help workers experiencing mental ill health. “Mates in Construction has been a great programme for our company,” says Sarah. “The charity trains on-site ‘connectors’ to recognise the signs and symptoms of people experiencing mental ill health, and
Headlines tell us that suicide rates for construction workers are rising, with statistics from the Chief Coroner showing 161 construction workers may have died from suicide between 2017 and 2020 in New Zealand. The construction industry has the highest suicide rate of any single sector in New Zealand. But Fulton Hogan is seeking to address this statistic. “Typically, workers in our industry work long hours; they are doing physically demanding work, working outside in all elements and often far 22
Fulton Hogan Dunedin region receiving their Mates in Construction Accreditation in June 2022. Left to right: Andy Westgate, HSQES Divisional Manager; Victoria McArthur, Mates Construction CEO; Richard Fulton, Regional Manager Dunedin; Fletcher (Mates) Tim Talbot, GM HSQES; Evan Teti, Mates.
they have dedicated field officers who visit every single site.” For Fulton Hogan, general mental health awareness training is provided to all sites, and everyone attends. From there, people can receive further training to become ‘Connectors’ or ‘ASIST’ reps. They wear a special sticker on their hard hat, meaning they can be quickly identified as open to help. To date, Fulton Hogan has over 100 connectors within the organisation. The idea is that, by helping people to be supportive and providing an environment that encourages positive wellbeing, this impact will go beyond the workplace and into their everyday lives. The ambition for Fulton Hogan is to have 90 per cent of its sites accredited by Mates in Construction by the end of the 2022/23 financial year. In addition, the organisation has recently reinvigorated its benefits offering. While it’s a developing portfolio, the company offers a dedicated mental health phoneline, EAP counselling and has a first-rate medical insurance policy, which provides free cover to all staff and their families. Discounts are also offered on gym memberships, My Food Bag, retail outlets and holistic therapies.
“The company recognises that some wellbeing benefits can appear tokenistic, so the discounts on offer for staff can be tailored to what works for them,” explains Sarah. “For example, if you enjoy cycling, there are discounts on e-bikes; if you enjoy going to the gym, there’s a gym membership package. It’s flexible, and that seems to work well.” For Men’s Health Week in May this year, teams set up a ‘Beat the Boss’ competition with the intention of showing how their small daily actions and habits can build positive mental health. For instance, one team brought in a bread machine and used it to cook fresh bread each day to go with their soup rather than the customary pies. Others walked up mountains together and the GM Construction commuted on his bike all week, including trips to the office, airport and site meetings, covering significant kilometres. It's an approach that’s working well. Fulton Hogan is fully on board with the concept that wellbeing is an integral part of productivity. “The pandemic has certainly aided the increased awareness around mental health, and we have been able to be more creative and flexible in our approach to addressing the issues,” says Sarah.
Tips from Sarah and Jess for HR professionals starting on mental health awareness raising. • Listen. Even if you don’t know the answers. And let staff know that you don’t know the answers, but you’ll work with them to find the answers. • Introduce mental health awareness first aid training. This is an excellent introduction to supporting mental health at work. • Ensure you have the support of your leadership team when designing and implementing any wellbeing programme. • Wellbeing is a unique concept for every person, make sure you have a range of offerings that people can pick and choose from and are accessible to all. • Weave wellbeing into everything you do within the organisation: 1:1s, company communications, team meetings and so on.
Auckland Transport (AT) is a Councilcontrolled organisation (CCO) responsible for all the region’s transport services, from roads and footpaths to cycling, parking and public transport. The organisation has around 1,800 employees who are spread right across Tāmaki SPRING 2022
Makaurau. Because of this diverse reach of employees, with a multitude of backgrounds, it was essential to have a way of raising mental health awareness that each employee could relate to. “With our new normal of living with uncertainty, there’s never been a better time for us to invest in our people’s wellbeing,” says Jess Hayes, People Experience Lead at AT. “We see that our people are tired, juggling work and home life and some are leaning towards burnout. Add to that the abuse our people experience from customers using our public transport network, and it’s crucial that we draw a line in the sand and raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing. As the recent Auckland Council campaign says (that all of the CCOs took part in), ‘There’s no excuse for abuse’.” AT refreshed its wellbeing programme and launched Hauora – AT’s Wellbeing Framework and Programme – in August 2021, coincidentally right as lockdown began. It is designed with its people at the forefront, and aims to provide a holistic approach to supporting people to thrive in their work and home lives. The programme is built on AT’s values of Manaakitanga – We care… Full stop and Tiakitanga – Safe with us. The biggest challenge to implementing such a broad-reaching programme was ensuring it was accessible for all and fit for purpose. “Wellbeing comes in all shapes and sizes and has many layers of responsibility,” says Jess. “Throw into the mix a diverse bunch of people scattered across the region, and it’s a big task to tackle.” The organisation decided to use the ‘Me-We-Us’ model to integrate wellbeing into everything that happens at AT. “The ‘me’ component is about empowering our people on an individual basis. ‘Me’ initiatives are typically self-led, and do not require involvement of others. It is about making sure our people have some accountability for their wellbeing and take action 24
on their own accord. The ‘we’ component is all about our teams. These activities usually require input from others. Leadership plays a key role in the ‘we’ aspect of the model. We also have two Wellbeing Consultants, who are available for 1:1 counselling sessions or they can deliver workshops to teams on mental health topics such as burnout and stress and anxiety. Finally, the ‘us’ component is about what we need to do as an organisation to ensure optimal wellbeing, such as wellbeing initiatives and assessments,” says Jess. AT also partnered with Groov (formerly known as Mentemia). Groov is an integrated mental health and wellbeing programme that gives individuals and leaders the tools and support they need to support their mental health. Since the launch in August 2021, a 26 per cent uptake of the app has occurred, equating to over 500 employees downloading the app to their devices and accessing tools to help them look after their wellbeing. “From an HR dashboard, we can see the usage of the app and see what content people are searching for to help shape our wellbeing plan,” says Jess.
Auckland Transport’s wellbeing messages to its people.
Under the me-we-us model, eight priorities were highlighted for the wellbeing squad to focus on. “It’s been a cross-functional ‘squad’ that has brought this programme to life,” says Jess. “A wellbeing wheel summarises all of the wellbeing offerings available for our people, with Groov acting as the ribbon that runs through everything and brings Hauora to life.” One initiative is the roll-out of the 50:25 meeting movement. Instead of booking one-hour or 30-minute meetings, the Outlook settings have been changed to give people a 10 or 5 minute break between meetings to focus on their wellbeing, whether it’s grabbing a hot drink or doing some deep breathing. “We also have meeting-free days,” says Jess. “For the team I’m in, that’s Wednesdays, so we can have those dedicated thinking, planning and doing days without the interruption of meetings.” The success of this programme is measured in multiple ways. Quarterly checking-in surveys are used, as well as the Groov dashboard and surveys and the ‘Always On’ Weather Check, which gives real-time data on how people are feeling, what they need and what’s working for them.
The programme continues to evolve as the team navigates the complexities it is dealt. HR professionals have long highlighted why mental health must take centre stage within their organisations. And employers are recognising the need to offer practical support to their people, not just because it’s best practice, but because a healthy, happy workforce has been shown to benefit an organisation’s bottom line. Fulton Hogan and Auckland Transport are two such examples in their field.
To find out more about these programmes and initiatives: • mates.net.nz: Mates in Construction offers workplacefocused programmes with the aim of reducing the number of lives lost to suicide in the construction industry • groovnow.com: Groov helps workplaces drive a wellbeingfirst culture. Formerly known as Mentemia, the company was cofounded by Sir John Kirwan and Adam Clark
• mentalhealth.org.nz: The Mental Health Foundation has numerous resources on its website targeting workplace wellbeing • tepou.co.nz/initiatives/ mental-health-first-aidaotearoa-new-zealand: Mental Health First Aid courses are internationally acclaimed and evidence-based, accredited training programmes that empower and equip individuals to support a friend, family member or co-worker experiencing a mental health problem or crisis.
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EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE SIANATU LOTOASO
Employers’ obligations for mental health and wellbeing Unsurprisingly, mental health and wellbeing across our workforces have been (and will continue to be) affected after three years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sianatu Lotoaso explores the critical role employers play when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.
hile COVID-19 is a relatively new phenomenon, what is not new is our courts have recognised that employers have a duty of care to provide employees with a safe work environment. As such, employers should understand the critical role they play, as an employer, when mental health and wellbeing issues arise in the workplace.
breach of contract and/or constructive dismissal.
Attorney-General v Gilbert1 remains the leading decision regarding mental health issues in the workplace and specifically work-related stress. Gilbert was a probation officer who was required to take on a disproportionately substantial number of difficult cases, and had an excessive workload, including the supervision of serious criminals. He became increasingly exhausted, despondent, unwell, suffered severe cardiac problems, and was found to be significantly disabled because of his employer’s actions.
Specifically, when mental health issues arise in the workplace, an employer is obliged to investigate, identify the issues and risks, and look to eliminate or at least minimise these. This is a proactive obligation. Employers have a responsibility to take notice of potential hazards in the workplace and act to address them, rather than working until damage actually occurs. Failing to do so could result in expensive legal claims for unjustified disadvantage, 1 Attorney-General v Gilbert  2 NZLR 342,  1 ERNZ 31 (CA).
Gilbert resigned on medical grounds. He successfully raised breach of contract and personal grievance (constructive dismissal) claims in the Employment Court. The Court ordered his employer to pay $297,966 in lost wages from the period of his dismissal to the date of the hearing, lost wages for the rest of his working life, and $50,000 in exemplary damages. On appeal, the Court of Appeal confirmed that “harm” and “illness” are not limited to “recognisable psychiatric injury”, and it would be contrary to the objects of the Act if an employer was not required to take steps reasonably practicable
for it to take to avoid causing psychological harm. Critically, the Court held that employers are required to take “all reasonable steps to prevent harm to an employee which foresaw or reasonably foresaw or ought to have reasonably foreseen at the time”; and this duty is now implied in common law into employment contracts, in recognition of their special nature.2 The Court also noted that an “employer does not guarantee to cocoon employees from stress and upset”, and their obligations will vary according to the circumstances. Further, the “contractual obligation requires reasonable steps which are proportionate to known and avoidable risks”.
Case law confirmed
More recently, in 2019, the Employment Court in FGH v RST confirmed the Gilbert decision.3 H worked for a government department, and throughout her
employment there were performance concerns. Over the years, she informed RST she was suffering from anxiety, and was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. In October 2015, RST put H on a performance management plan after various concerns arose. By December 2015, H’s behaviour had started to drastically change, including having outbursts and behaving aggressively towards RST. Following another outburst by H, RST commenced a disciplinary process against her. H successfully raised an unjustified disadvantage personal grievance on the grounds that RST had failed to provide a safe work environment when dealing with her performance issues, which subjected her to unwarranted stress. The Court held that, because the process was causing H mental distress, RST had a responsibility to seek further medical advice about the appropriateness of continuing with the performance process, given it was
aware of H’s medical conditions.4 In applying Gilbert, the Court held it was entirely foreseeable that continuing with formal performance and disciplinary processes, following H’s outbursts, would result in negative reactions because of her known mental health conditions.5 While employers are not expected to ‘cocoon’ employees, or wrap them in cotton wool, once put on notice that an employee is struggling, an employer should not carry on business as usual. Even if the employer did not see it coming, if an employee does suffer from a heightened emotional response or breakdown, it should not be ignored. Sianatu Lotoaso is an Associate at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers. Sianatu provides advice on all aspects of employment law and the employment relationship. Sianatu regularly provides advice to a range of clients in the public and private sectors.
2 Attorney-General v Gilbert above note 1 at . 3 FGH v RST  NZEmpC 60 at . 4 FGH v RST above note 3 at . 5 FGH v RST above note 3 at –.
TIKANGA MĀORI AND HRM DR MAREE ROCHE
Māori mental health Human Resources editor Kathy Catton sat down with Dr Maree Roche (Rāukawa), Associate Professor from the University of Waikato and specialist in psychological wellbeing at work, to kōrero about mental health in the workplace, particularly for Māori employees.
Great to talk with you, Maree. Could you start by telling us a little about your background and what you have been researching in regard to mental health in the workplace? My work has always looked at the intersection of mental health and wellbeing from a work – or organisational – perspective. I’m a Fellow of the New Zealand Psychological Society, and I’m also a Fellow of the Positive Organizational Behaviour Institute in the United States of America. Workplaces can be where people flourish and grow or where people can end up with a multitude of mental health issues. Much of my research has looked at things like mindfulness, belonging and psychological capital at work. When we look at psychological capital, for example, we’re talking about developing the whole person to reach their full potential in order to 28
increase performance and wellbeing in organisations. One element of this is being able to think about the future in a way that’s realistic, hopeful and optimistic. My research and mahi for most of my career has been in the field of mental health and flourishing, but also I think this mindset about enhancing mental health at work is important, especially in the current climate. Actually it is quite interesting that it’s only lately – with COVID-19 and burnout crises – that this work has been highlighted and on the agenda for organisations.
That sounds fascinating. What do we know about how employers currently meet the needs of Māori in relation to te taha hinengaro (mental wellbeing)? Some of the work I have done, together with Professor Jarrod Haar and Associate Professor David Brougham, is on looking at a kaupapa Māori approach to human resource practices in Aotearoa. We’ve found that Māori (and nonMāori) employees benefit when organisations take on a Māori world view at work. So, for example, for Māori, whānau wellbeing and inclusion is a huge part of their own wellbeing. So it gets hard to separate mental wellbeing from relational wellbeing and vice versa, for example.
It’s important that we learn from others about different ways of understanding wellbeing at work. Overall, you could say that when employees have a real sense – or real conviction – of belonging in the workplace, great things happen. This provides an opportunity – a wero (a challenge) – for HR managers and leaders to think differently about how we might understand ‘mental’ health at work, towards something much more holistic. For example, numerous studies have highlighted the importance and relevance of relational approaches to wellbeing as central to a Māori world view. Building ‘relational’ wellbeing could include whakawhanaungatanga (the process of building relationships), using tikanga (cultural protocols and processes) and incorporating cultural values, such as manaakitanga (kindness and hospitality) and the use of mauri (binding energy), to invigorate wellbeing. Our workplaces could embrace all of these! Actually, relationships are a crucial way to harness the wellbeing of the whole workforce, and I think we now need to engage widely in discussing what we might mean by ‘wellbeing at work’. Another huge area in research (and this is important for HR leaders) is that the more leaders themselves
are psychologically resourced, the more support they are to employees and to an organisation. We certainly need to acknowledge the mahi HR leaders are doing to reinvigorate workplaces and create mentally healthy work environments. Actually, really well-supported evidence exists that suggests that when we are in a state of good mental health (HR) leaders are then a positive contagion throughout the organisation.
image or model of Whiti Te Rā (Rising of the sun, figure 1). Each ray coming off the sun represents one of these pathways. One is around language (reo Māori), one is around taiao (our connection with the environment), one is around our wairua (Māori spiritual beliefs and
practices), another is take pū whānau (Māori relational values) and one is whakapapa (intergenerational relationships). This model can help HR to examine wellbeing from several perspectives but with each helping the whole (in this case, the rising of the sun).
What else do you think is needed in workplaces to create mentally healthy work environments for Māori? Forthcoming research in the New Zealand Journal of Human Resources Management examines the ways in which we might be able to reinvigorate and understand Māori wellbeing from a Māori perspective. The first is having a really strong sense of belonging, a place of openness, recognising whakapapa, and connection. I think all workplaces could really benefit from having an environment where a real sense of belonging exists, where everybody feels they can do their best work, but more than that, where they feel they can bring their whole selves. Some of this work also really emphasises that a strong sense of cultural identity is significant, and the six themes or pathways towards wellbeing are represented in a visual
The Whiti Te Rā interactive guide, by McLachlan, A. D., Waitoki, W., Harris, P., & Jones, H. (2021). Whiti te rā: A guide to connecting Māori to traditional wellbeing pathways. Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing 6(1): 78–97.
What are some of the outcomes of your research that may be relevant to Māori, leaders and employers? When we start to look at the things that might be relevant for leaders in the future, I think it’s quite important we understand that, as HR professionals, we do carry a leadership role. Our mental health and wellbeing are contagious in the organisations we work for. So the way we model this and the way we act are really important. Even down to the micro-expressions and how we talk with others is crucial. HR leaders have a fundamental role in ensuring their environment is a flourishing work environment. 30
So what can we take away from that? Well, our research has said as soon as we put our own oxygen mask on, it means that, actually, we are better able to create mentally healthy workplaces. We need to be modelling wellbeing practices to keep ourselves mentally healthy. So doing mindfulness is helpful. So is working on psychological capital. It’s also important to acknowledge that these can be hard things to do when you’re trying to answer 1,000 emails all the time, for example! Of course it’s about looking for ways of enhancing wellbeing for employees, that are culturally driven, provide new insights into wellbeing, and maybe challenge how we
conceptualise and lead wellbeing and mental health into the future.
It’s great to hear a little about your research and your work. Thank you, Maree, for sharing your insights and reflections.
Associate Professor Maree Roche has expertise in leadership, mental health, positive psychology and the positive mindsets of leaders and employees in relation to enhanced organisational outcomes. Maree has examined many psychological aspects of mindset at work in relation to business leaders, with an overall finding that the enhancement of these manifests in many positive outcomes for organisations, leaders and their employees.
HR TECHNOLOGY BRIAN DONN
Supporting mental health at work Supporting the mental health of today’s workforce has long been on the radar of many business leaders. Brian Donn from Ceridian, Australia and New Zealand, looks at recent Ceridian research and offers areas where organisations can get started in raising awareness of mental health in the workforce.
ith the increased strain over the past few years, including staff shortages across industries, global volatility, and the war for talent, it’s more critical than ever to raise awareness of mental health in the workforce. Ensuring mental health support is crucial to safeguard retention, maintain a strong workplace culture, and is simply the right thing to do. When we think about the impact of mental wellness, it’s no surprise innovation is more likely to blossom in environments where people feel valued and where they feel they can be open and honest with managers about personal challenges. Employees are also more likely to be present and focused on work. According to the OECD, poor mental health costs the New Zealand economy 4–5 per cent of GDP every 32
year through lost labour productivity, increased healthcare expenditure and social spending on people temporarily or permanently out of work. According to research in New Zealand, it’s clear that employees are tired. Ceridian’s Pulse of Talent report shows over four-in-five (84 per cent) of surveyed New Zealanders report experiencing burnout, while 36 per cent indicate serious or extreme burnout symptoms. The main factors leading to these burnout levels include increased workload (42 per cent), mental health challenges (36 per cent) and leaders who are unsupportive (25 per cent). The Pulse of Talent research also found that, while many New Zealand businesses support mental health and wellness through employee assistance programmes (44 per cent) and consistent manager check-ins (32 per cent), another 14 per cent are doing nothing at all. The research highlights a desire for mental health days (46 per cent), flexible schedules (39 per cent) and additional benefits coverage (37 per cent) when it comes to supporting employee overall wellness and mental health. Beyond these benefits, employees need and expect sustainable and healthy workplaces, which requires taking on the real work of culture
change. Winning top talent goes beyond pay and encompasses the complete employee experience. It’s not enough to simply offer the latest apps or employ euphemisms like ‘wellbeing’ or ‘mental fitness’. Employers must connect what they say to what they actually do. The question now lies in how organisations can get started.
Get to the root of the problem
Building mental health awareness can only happen when organisations know where they fall short and what their employees really need. Businesses need to measure their people analytics on a consistent basis. Leaders should become more aware of their flight risks, employee expectations and gain regular feedback before working on a tailored mental health strategy for their talent pool.
Offer opportunities for culture change
Employees want their voice to be heard, especially when it comes to company values and culture. Employers can empower staff to change the workplace culture for the better and put forward their recommendations on improving mental health. Leaders need to be open to feedback as a first step
in increasing awareness about an organisation’s commitment to mental health. Workers may seek out other employment opportunities if a company fails to address social issues. The future of employee experience – from recruitment to retirement – is intimately connected to initiatives around mental health and culture, so these practices shouldn’t fall by the wayside.
Help employees while giving them flexibility The shift to remote work has dramatically changed the work– life balance for employees who are able to work from home. For some, without the commute to and from an outside office location, ‘work from home’ can quickly start to feel like they’re living at work 24/7. Managers should encourage employees to take breaks, to disconnect, and establish set working hours with a consistent time to sign off. On the other hand, half of the workforce doesn’t have the option to do their job remotely. It’s important to give these workers a sense of autonomy and control over when they work with scheduling flexibility. Irregular schedules can make it hard to plan childcare, commute or feel in control of their own work–
life balance. Managers should ask workers when they would like to work and provide fair notice of these schedules.
is when organisations provide employees with early access to their earned wages to give them greater control over their personal finances.
Leveraging workplace technologies that help you create fair schedules and better match staff to demand, is the first place to start.
Although every workplace is different, there is a clear need to take a broad view of wellbeing and ensure workplace wellness conversations are happening now to enact change. Today’s business leaders and HR professionals need to be finely tuned to how they can support their workforce now and into the future.
Assess employee benefits
It may be time to re-evaluate corporate benefits packages. Paid time off can be an important part of a company’s employee value proposition that helps improve worklife balance. Organisations should regularly review their paid time off offerings and whether they suit the needs and wants of employees. In addition, organisations should ensure they’re taking a holistic view of wellness offerings. Research by CFFC recently released to support Mental Health Awareness Week found 69 per cent of New Zealanders are concerned about money, with that figure rising to 74 per cent of women and 82 per cent of those aged 18–34. When it comes to financial wellness, employee offerings should be based on organisational data, so programmes have a positive and measurable impact on the business. Examples of wellness offerings are financial literacy programmes and retirement plan matching. In addition, a relatively new and growing trend
Brian Donn is the Managing Director of Ceridian in Australia and New Zealand. With more than 20 years of market experience, Brian has held leadership positions across the Asia-Pacific region, including Oracle, Verint Systems Inc, KANA Software and Sword Group. At Ceridian, Brian is focused on empowering customers with the digital transformation of their people processes in a constantly changing world of work.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION DR KAISA WILSON
Why wellbeing is really about equity It is now a well-established fact that racism, sexism, homophobia and ableism have real and detrimental effects on people’s mental and physical health. Kaisa Wilson looks at what ACC is doing to address equity in the workplace.
ver the past few decades, many studies have shown that stress caused by prejudice and disadvantage can cause a range of mental and physical ill health. For example, marginalisation has been found to elevate blood pressure and weaken the immune system, which, in turn, increases the risk of developing long-term health conditions. A 2019 study found that marginalising experiences appear to increase inflammation in the body, raising the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and autoimmune disorders. Another recent study found that unfair treatment of women and minoritised groups has a significant consequential effect on sleep and physiological functioning in midlife. It is also theorised that women suffer more ill health later in life due to the disproportionate amount of unpaid labour they do, in comparison with men. 34
Bias and the affect on mental health
A 2015 study found that bias and disadvantage are twice as likely to affect mental health than physical health. Of the people researchers sampled, participants who reported experiences of prejudice also experienced the following mental health issues at higher rates than the general population:
evidence that bias, disadvantage and marginalisation negatively affect mental and physical health is now overwhelming and continues to mount.
What to do about it?
Any workplace initiatives aimed at increasing wellbeing among employees must first address the elephant in the room, equity. Any benefit gained from workplace • depression wellbeing initiatives will be undone by inequality. Therefore, addressing • stress equity must be the first step in • emotional distress employee wellbeing. Most of the • anxiety work of affecting wellbeing in your • post-traumatic stress disorder workplace will, in fact, be done (PTSD) by interrogating the structural and • suicidal thoughts. cultural ways in which women, Māori, people of colour, disabled The transformational people and LGBTQI+ employees are disadvantaged and marginalised. potential of truly seeing Then fixing it. This work typically and then repairing the damage done by inequality costs more money and requires in your workplace is almost more resources than most wellbeing initiatives, but, unlike many wellbeing limitless. initiatives, it works. It is more expensive but far more cost effective. Perhaps most concerning is a 2018 paper in which the findings After sinking money and time into suggest that fear or anticipation wellbeing, many organisations of discrimination itself is harmful, eventually become frustrated when and that it can undermine good measures of productivity, turnover, mental health characteristics, such belonging and diversity remain as resilience, hope and motivation. stubbornly unchanged. This is almost The paper also outlines how even always because inequality and verbal assault can cause PTSD. The inequity in the workplace continue to
have harmful effects on the physical and mental wellbeing of women and minoritised employees, and no amount of mindfulness or subsidised gym memberships can compensate.
Equity, diversity and belonging
ACC is an example of a local organisation taking an evidencebased approach and planning wellbeing for its employees in this radically different way. They have a strong commitment to equity, diversity and belonging, owned by the Executive Team. And, as an employer, their recently appointed Deputy Chief Executive, People and Culture Michael Frampton has prioritised this work. The equity, diversity and belonging team sits at the heart of the People and Culture function to ensure all People and Culture work is equitable. The People and Culture function at ACC has also undertaken to review, and modify or replace, any
policies, processes or procedures that marginalise one identity group or privilege another. The point is making equity a way of working rather than an initiative sitting off to the side attempting to make change through influence, which is where it is often relegated.
…any workplace initiatives aimed at increasing wellbeing among employees must first address equity. At ACC, the focus is now on equity first, supported by a framework of approaches drawn from new developments in the fields of neuropsychology, interpersonal neurobiology, behavioural economics and social psychology. This kaupapa, grounded in evidence and rigour, is possible because the organisation is investing in specialist expertise.
ACC’s belief is that by following the evidence and addressing inequity in the workplace, measurable and meaningful improvements to wellbeing, productivity, diversity and belonging will be realised. Any organisation embarking on wellbeing, or midway through a programme of wellbeing work and wondering why they haven’t seen meaningful change, would do well to shift their focus to equity. The transformational potential of truly seeing and then repairing the damage done by inequality in your workplace is almost limitless.
Dr Kaisa Wilson is the Strategic Lead D&I at ACC and a gender advisor at the World Bank. She is an advocate, speaker and writer for workplace equity with a particular specialisation in gender.
IMMIGRATION LAW UPDATE RACHAEL MASON
AEWV: Complexities and challenges to watch for Readers will be aware of Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ’s) new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) system, which launched on 4 July 2022. Rachael Mason from Lane Neave outlines what to watch for.
he new AEWV system is designed to facilitate an ‘immigration rebalance’, preventing employers from sponsoring work visas for migrants who will earn below the minimum pay threshold of $27.76, except in certain limited circumstances. It’s fair to say the new system is fraught with issues, not just in terms of the harsh reset regarding who can now secure a visa. Even for those roles paying above the minimum pay thresholds, the new system is complex, full of uncertainty and expensive.
No pathway to residence for most applicants With the Skilled Migrant Category currently suspended, for most applicants applying for AEWVs, there is no clear pathway to residence. The only applicants with a longterm pathway to residency, enabling them to remain in New Zealand permanently, are those who meet
the ‘Green List’ or Highly Paid category requirements. The lack of a clear pathway to residence presents a significant challenge for employers who desperately need to recruit talent from offshore to fill vacant positions, including several well-paid, highly skilled roles. It is easy to understand how a migrant from the other side of the world might be reluctant to pack up their life and family and move to New Zealand without a clear pathway to securing the ability to remain here permanently.
Green List The Green List comprises 85 roles identified as highly skilled, hard-to-fill occupations that are in high demand globally and in ongoing shortage in New Zealand. The Green List has two components. First, a list of roles eligible for the fast track ‘Straight to Residence’ pathway and a second list eligible for a ‘Work to Residence’ pathway, meaning they can apply for residence after completing two years of employment in a Green List role. At face value, these categories appear to be great news for employers looking to fill vacancies in these occupations. However, the Green List pathways are likely to be of limited use in many situations.
To qualify under the Green List categories, the applicant must be offered a job role that aligns with a Green List role and, importantly, must also meet the academic and other requirements of that occupation as specified. This firm has already seen numerous examples where employers have identified candidates internationally to fill Green List roles, who possess relevant academic qualifications or work experience, but do not possess the exact specified qualifications and experience required to satisfy the Green List criteria. An example might be a qualified professional, who possesses an appropriate degree, but where that degree is not from a recognised university, or it is not clear that the focus area of the degree meets the specified criteria. In some instances, it may be possible to secure an International Qualification Assessment (IQA) to determine that the applicant’s overseas qualification is equivalent to the required New Zealand qualification. However, an IQA application is uncertain and likely to add significant time and cost to the process. Despite the potential for an IQA, we expect there will still be many prospective applicants who will be unable to satisfy these Green List
requirements, meaning they do not have a clear path to residence. Other than for the medical roles on the Green List, we expect this category will only be of limited use in offering a streamlined visa process and a long-term residence pathway to migrants.
Highly Paid Those migrants who are paid at least twice the median wage will be eligible for a ‘Work to Residence’ pathway and may become eligible to apply for residence after having completed two years of employment in a highly paid role. The median wage is $27.76 per hour, meaning this pathway will apply to applicants earning above $55.52 per hour, equivalent to a salary of around $115,500 per year, based on a 40-hour work week. It is important to note that this category applies to any highly paid role, regardless of whether it is a Green List role or not.
Confusing array of categories and sub-categories
Several different ‘sub-categories’ of AEWVs now exist, including the Green List and Highly Paid categories mentioned above. For example, the ‘exemption’ lists for the tourism and hospitality, construction and infrastructure and care sectors,
with reduced minimum pay rates, pending sector agreements with certain industries, such as meat and fish processing, and then the catchall AEWV category for everyone else. Let’s just say: it’s confusing to navigate! Depending on the sub-category, the ability for the migrant to remain here long term, requirement to stand down offshore after two years, ability to secure an open work visa for dependant partners and so on will all differ. All of these factors are important to employers, but more particularly to the migrant workers they are hoping to recruit into their businesses. Misunderstanding and confusion concerning the particular category a candidate may qualify for, the potential terms and conditions of their visa and whether or not a pathway to residence exists can be deal breakers. These issues can also lead to visa declines, costly delays and potential future ineligibility for the migrant worker. The INZ website can be confusing, leading employers to believe they can secure a visa for a particular candidate, only to find out either that the candidate doesn’t qualify as understood or the particular process for successfully securing a positive outcome hasn’t been followed, meaning the process needs to be restarted at significant time and cost.
Complexities of the Job Check
The Job Check is a critical stage in the process and must be paid for by the employer, with early statistics from INZ making for poor reading. As at 3 August 2022, INZ had received around 3,800 Job Check applications and had approved less than half of them, falling well behind its published processing guidelines of 10 working days. What is clear is employers are unsure of the requirements to be met for a successful job check, and INZ is still on a journey of training its staff on the job, in combination, leading to high numbers of declined applications and processing delays. The policy requirements for the Job Check are highly prescriptive in terms of both the advertising and employment agreement requirements, and several areas exist where an application can fail and be declined.
Presentation of labour market test information Demonstrating that the labour market has been adequately tested and a suitable New Zealand citizen or resident was not able to be found can be a show-stopper. The content of the advertisement itself, the subsequent presentation of information about candidates who responded to the advertising, the selection process SPRING 2022
undertaken and why New Zealand citizens or residents who applied for the role were not suitable is all-important. Engaging with an expert to ensure the labour market testing has been completed, in line with the policy requirements, and the summarised results from that process are presented to INZ in a way that will support a visa being issued will often be critical.
Correlation between Job and Migrant checks is essential A further significant issue with Job Checks is that they are intrinsically connected to the subsequent Migrant Check, so ensuring absolute alignment exists between the information provided in the two applications is essential. Although the applications must be lodged sequentially, in most cases, it will be advantageous for the Job and Migrant checks to be prepared simultaneously, to ensure consistency. An example where inconsistency could lead to the Migrant Check being declined will be where the Job Check indicated a certain salary range, but the migrant candidate possesses slightly more 38
Make Complex Immigration Simple Our specialist immigration team provides specific high-level guidance on visa applications from start to finish. We have your back when managing your migrant workforce
experience than anticipated and so is able to negotiate a higher salary that sits outside the range indicated in the Job Check. In this situation, the Migrant Check will likely be declined, resulting in a brand new Job Check needing to be made before the Migrant Check can be redone.
Return of ANZSCO
The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) will play a significant role under the new system. For roles on the Green List or exempted roles, ANZSCO will be important in determining whether or not a given job is a listed role. The ANZSCO assessment can be complex. Numerous instances will occur where more than one potential ANZSCO occupation could be applied for, with one occupation being more favourable than another (eg, due to being on the Green List or being an occupation that qualifies for a reduced minimum pay rate). By way of example, different ANZSCO classifications exist for chef, cook and fast food cook, with only fast food cook being listed as an occupation that qualifies for the reduced minimum hourly rate of $25 per hour, but with only a two-year visa and an offshore stand-down requirement for the migrant at completion of that visa period. Understanding the potential impact of the ANZSCO classification on the visa process is a further complexity for HR managers and employers to grapple with.
As with most things in life, preparation is vital. Here are tips for ensuring the best outcomes for your AEWV applications. • Manage expectations of all stakeholders well: expect lengthy processing times and factor in time for hiccups along the way. • Ensure advertisements are ‘immigration friendly’: for roles likely to attract migrant workers ensure advertising meets all the Job Check requirements. • Prepare for inconsistency: INZ is learning the rules too, don’t always accept a declined decision without getting a second opinion. • Think long term: certainty about their long-term ability to stay in New Zealand is allimportant for migrants. Even if they don’t qualify right now for a pathway to residence, there may be steps you can take now to lay the foundation for a future application. • Get good advice and weigh costs carefully: although getting good advice can add to the costs, it is generally far better to invest that money at the outset and secure a streamlined approach. If things go wrong, it will often cost considerably more and take considerably longer than if an expert had been engaged from the start.
Rachael Mason is qualified in New Zealand, England and Wales, and has practised exclusively in the area of immigration law for several years. Rachael is a facilitator for HRNZ PD courses, virtual courses and webinars. Go to hrnz.org.nz/pd to see upcoming courses. She works with both multi-national corporate clients and smaller local employers across a range of industry sectors in managing their global and local migrant workforces and developing and maintaining compliance and legal right to work policies. Rachael is focused on providing highquality technical immigration advice that is both pragmatic and commercial. SPRING 2022
HR’s wellbeing stories Human Resources shares personal stories and experiences of HR professionals managing their own mental health in the workplace. For privacy and out of respect for those who have contributed, names have been removed.
R has a unique relationship with mental health in workplaces. Not only are we normally the first or second port of call for employees and leaders alike who are struggling with their own mental health and wellbeing, we are also the ones responsible for supporting processes where the effects of a lack of mental wellness can show up. As HR practitioners, we rely on many of our own skills to support other people: empathy, compassion, logic, reason. Some are lucky enough to receive formal or informal training around supporting mental wellbeing in themselves and others, but many haven’t. Other professions responsible for supporting others and managing conflict on an ongoing basis have professional supervision built into the foundations of their support 40
infrastructure. Roles that deal with serious complaints or incidents (social workers, police officers, health professionals) all always have the provision for some kind of regular and easy-to-access supervision available to them; sometimes compulsory to their roles. HR professionals can’t walk away from the difficult aspects of their roles; it’s inherent in supporting people and processes within an organisation or business. What is vital is understanding boundaries and limitations, how to keep ourselves safe so we can support our stakeholders in the best possible way, and how to talk openly as an HR team to support each other’s – and our own – wellbeing. We asked several HR professionals working in different roles and industries in New Zealand about their own mental health journeys; how they support their wellbeing, and what their top tips are for other HR professionals when it comes to looking after themselves, so they can continue to support others.
What was your experience of your own mental health journey working through the pandemic for the past twoplus years? “I’m always pretty aware of my mental health. I was 15 when I was first diagnosed with depression and was mentally well for many years following this, but being diagnosed at such a young age taught me some excellent lessons that I have been able to use through my career and through the pandemic. It taught me to put my health first, to take ongoing steps to manage it, and it also gave me an understanding and empathy for others. During the pandemic, I needed to take active steps to manage my mental health, as isolation and not being out and about can have a big impact on my wellbeing.” “The past few years have been a real roller-coaster with a mix of highs and lows. When you’re working on organisational change, through lockdowns, thinking about other individuals’ wellbeing, it’s easy to forget about your own wellbeing. Personally, I’ve been dealing with anxiety and stress, which has been really challenging.” “The pandemic kicked off just as I returned to the UK and was working
in the NHS. Initially, things were hectic, and the overwhelming sense of never being enough really hit me hard. Having experience of PTSD, I was quickly able to recognise the impact on others – but not so much on myself – I didn’t take any leave for almost a year and was running on such a high mode that I wasn’t realising how exhausted I was until I stopped and hit a wall and ended up spending a four-day holiday asleep.” “In terms of my mental health, I’ve come out significantly stronger. For me, the pandemic was a wakeup call that in my line of work boundaries are vital, and it’s okay not to be everything to everyone all of the time (things I tell others all the time!). I feel like I’ve really grown in the last three years, and the experiences of isolation, loneliness, fear, distance and reflection have helped me understand what I really need.”
How did you support your own wellbeing? “During COVID, I put in a strong routine (usually not my forté). My routine involved “pretending” I was walking to work, same time every day, daily events (Taco Tuesday), trying my best to connect in with others as I am a strong extrovert, moderating how much news and
social media I consumed, letting others know at work how I was going and how much I could realistically achieve (working from home with four kids). I managed okay for the first lockdown but found the second lockdown much more difficult, and made sure I reached out for more support during that.” “I had a really busy period at work where all I was doing was working, eating and sleeping. I spoke to a few people and started slow – it’s all the things you know you should be doing that you end up neglecting (getting outside, getting enough asleep, taking a walk). Trying to rebuild habits can be difficult but I’ve found when I take a walk, spend time with my friends, get a good sleep, I’m in a much better space mentally. I’m also lucky to have a great group of friends and people that I can talk to about it. I’ve found that being honest with friends and family about where I’m at mentally has taken the pressure off.” “Running. Literally running away from problems. Running is great because I have to forget everything and just focus on breathing. There’s also something quite rhythmic and meditative, especially in the rain. Journalling – I’ve NEVER been into this and always been a ‘there’s no way I’m writing my feelings down‘, but there’s something about just
splurging it all on one A5 page. I love having everything out of my head – some days it’s some bullets others it’s a sentence. I never look back at what I’ve written though!! Reading – the pandemic meant I had a lot of indoor evenings back in the UK, so I’ve rediscovered my love of reading (although never a wellbeing book – always a crime classic first).”
What does your organisation do well in the mental health awareness space? “We take mental health seriously when dealing with employee issues. In one particular case, I had a meeting with someone who was currently not able to work effectively and it had led to an incident. When we met, they spoke about their mental health and were visibly ‘down’. They asked for some change, less responsibility and in a followup meeting a few weeks later, they seemed a different person. They spoke on how the incident had been a catalyst to start treating their mental health more seriously and were feeling really positive. Because of the space we’d created for them to talk about this issue, they were able to make positive change and positively impact others through role modelling some really great behaviours, which was a huge turn-around from where we had been. In this instance, it SPRING 2022
took an incident for the employee to notice their health needed treatment, and we were able to support this, but I’d love if we were able to provide support before it got to the stage where it was needed.” “We surveyed our staff, and the top two areas they wanted us to focus on were mental wellbeing and physical wellbeing. We’ve run sessions on building resilience and mental health training for leaders, on the physical side we have a staff activity fund where we contribute towards sports teams, we have staff who lead lunchtime walks and runs.” “Last year, we had a wellbeing break, and that was received positively, we are doing this again this year. We are lucky to have a few mental health experts in our team that are always available to have chat with staff who need support. We also looked at how we can break the stigma around counselling and therapy and brought our EAP provider in to speak at a staff meeting which was well received.”
What are your top tips for other HR professionals? “If you are struggling, don’t keep it all to yourself – talk to your manager, family and friends.” “Build your boundaries – life is hard, we can’t always be a superhero. Learn where your boundaries are and stick with them – it’s not easy but if you want to prevent the one-way ticket to burnout, I suggest you make it this year’s professional goal.” “COVID-19 has changed how we work, and sometimes it feels like we are ‘always on’, it’s important to set some real boundaries with work (ie, the email can probably wait until tomorrow and if you’re on annual leave for one day don’t look at your emails). I also recently turned off all email and social media notifications off my phone, which has been life-changing!” “Get help – therapy is the single best thing I ever did. It was uncomfortable, I was self-conscious and awkward but I don’t regret a single moment.”
“Being aware of your own wellbeing (and limitations) can help you and help others. In terms of HR, my depression and awareness of my own mental health has made me a better employee and a better HR professional. Now if I am not happy in my work or feel overwhelmed, I always speak up. I am proactive and constructive, genuine and honest. I recognise that my role enables me to directly influence and by doing this I hope it leads to others being empowered or comfortable to speak up also. I often talk to people about my mental health. I want others to feel safe to share with me if they want and ones that have excellent mental health to see people who can look bubbly and happy on the outside – can still suffer.” “Find your ‘Rat Park’ – it’s a phrase from an Australian series called the Let Down (on Netflix) – essentially it means find what you love and do it – dance in the dark, swim, run.”
Self-care for HR professionals HR professionals are known for focusing on how your organisation’s staff are performing, but are you taking time to look after yourself? Here are wellbeing consultant Lauren Parsons’ six quick tips to help you thrive. 1. Have a daily nonnegotiable Make an appointment in your calendar (and set an alarm on your phone) to get out for that 15-minute walk, sit and eat lunch in a relaxed setting, or read your book for 10 minutes with your favourite cuppa. Small breaks in the day help your biochemistry reset and switch you out of fight-or-flight mode that demands and deadlines can trigger. 2. Avoid time confetti Block chunks of focused time to work on critical projects to avoid days filled with time confetti (where you shred useful blocks of time into tiny pieces). Switch off all alerts and remove visual distractions. Set a countdown timer and get in flow on that project so you can knock it out of the park. When you’re done, ‘snack on exercise’ or have a dance party.
Movement boosts your mood and energy, ready for the next block of focused work. 3. Celebrate the small stuff Sign off the day by sharing your wins with a colleague (or your notebook.) Reflect on the day’s highlights. This doubles your happiness factor because your brain doesn’t distinguish between these great things happening and you reliving them. 4. Set clear boundaries Have personal policies like: • I only attend meetings with a clear purpose and agenda • 6pm to 8.30pm is family time • I get outdoors for a walk every day • I don’t check emails before 8am, after 6pm or on the weekend. Get good at clearly and respectfully communicating your boundaries (rather than longwinded excuses.) As Tony Gaskin says, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” 5. Dial the right things up and down Sick of listening to negative news on repeat, doom scrolling
or watching people’s highlight reels on social media? Take practical steps to limit the negatives. Choose one reliable source of news and tune in just once a day, once a week, or whatever frequency suits you. Remove social media from your phone and access it only via your laptop. On the flipside, ring-fence time for uplifting content such as inspiring TED talks, podcasts, articles and magazines (like this!) 6. Switch on your internal motivation Want to nail that fitness habit? Rather than picturing yourself out there pounding the pavement, your lungs aching, muscles burning, instead, picture yourself running back up the driveway feeling proud, elated and energised. You need to ‘picture the satisfied feeling of completion’ to switch on your motivation to get started. This works for anything you’re putting off. Imagine the joy of working at that decluttered desk, holding the published book in your hands or getting those tax records sent off.
Lauren Parsons is a awardwinning wellbeing specialist who helps leaders boost staff wellbeing and productivity. Get your complimentary copy of Lauren’s e-book 5 Keys to a Positive, Energised, HighPerformance Culture at www.LaurenParsons Wellbeing.com.
EMPLOYMENT LAW CASE LAW REVIEW DAVID BURTON
Mental health and multiple mistakes David Burton, an employment law barrister, looks at a recent case involving the University of Canterbury and a senior lecturer and the implications of the employer to consider physical and mental health.
nder the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, employers have a duty to eliminate risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable. Alternatively, if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate them, the employer must minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable. Health is defined in the Act as meaning physical and mental health. This essentially requires that employers protect employees against psychological harm and must accommodate employees affected by mental health or disabilities. Failure by an employer to provide a workplace that accommodates health and safety requirements is grounds for an employee to bring a claim of unjustified disadvantage or potentially unjustified dismissal. In addition, employers may potentially find themselves investigated by WorkSafe New Zealand where a business has failed to manage significant mental health risks.
Mental health condition
The recent case of Scott v Vice Chancellor of University of Canterbury demonstrates that employers should take care not to stigmatise mental impairment. Dr Scott was awarded substantial sums for lost remuneration and compensation for the humiliation and loss of dignity she suffered. The University of Canterbury was found liable for having unjustifiably disadvantaging and unjustifiably dismissing a senior lecturer with bipolar mood disorder. Dr Scott had been employed by the University for 19 years when she was dismissed for medical incapacity and serious misconduct. Her dismissal followed two formal warnings and a long period of enforced sick leave. Dr Scott wanted to work and provided expert medical opinions confirming her fitness to resume duties. The University, however, was concerned Dr Scott was a risk to herself and others and could bring the employer into disrepute.
Breach of duty of good faith Dr Scott raised personal grievances claiming she was unjustifiably suspended and unjustifiably disadvantaged when her IT access was removed. Dr Scott claimed the University’s failure to accept the
medical advice that she was fit to return was a breach of the duty of good faith and that she was the subject of discrimination on the grounds of disability. Dr Scott also claimed the warnings given were unjustified actions causing her disadvantage, and that her dismissal was unjustified.
The lessons from the case are important because a significant number of employees experience mental impairment or illness at some stage in their lives. The University maintained that its concerns about Dr Scott’s mental health and conduct were those of a fair and reasonable employer. It considered it had followed a fair and reasonable process in addressing those concerns, and termination of employment was justified in all the circumstances. The Employment Relations Authority found the University had unjustifiably dismissed Dr Scott and that its actions in placing her on sick leave and taking away her IT access had disadvantaged her. It also found the formal warnings unjustified, and that
the University had failed to follow fair process and treat Dr Scott fairly and reasonably. It awarded Dr Scott around 18 months of lost wages and compensation of over $50,000.
…mental impairment or illness should be viewed and accommodated in the same way as any physical injury or illness is managed.
The lengthy decision outlines numerous failures on the part of the University. The University failed to maintain an open mind towards Dr Scott and genuinely consult and listen to her views; nor acknowledge Dr Scott as a competent and intelligent person with a valid perspective; nor give due weight to specialist medical reports or other evidence in Dr Scott’s favour that did not accord with its
predetermined view; nor respect Dr Scott’s right to maintain some privacy over her medical records and be given a fair assessment; nor appreciate the significant impact its detrimental actions were having on Dr Scott’s ongoing health and wellbeing. The University had acted based on its fear of Dr Scott’s bipolar mood disorder and viewed Dr Scott as a liability. The lessons from the case are important because a significant number of employees experience mental impairment or illness at some stage in their lives that may affect their employment occasionally. While mental impairment or illness should be viewed and accommodated in the same way as any physical injury or illness is managed, that is sometimes easier said than done. The employee may not be thinking clearly or rationally. Sometimes it is difficult to engage with the employee or their support network (and that can
be hindered or prevented by privacy issues). Sometimes the employer needs to deal with conflicting diagnoses or prognoses from professionals. On a pragmatic level, these days it seems to take ages to obtain appointments for assessments or treatment with qualified professionals. Scott v Vice Chancellor of University of Canterbury  NZERA 311
David Burton is an employment law barrister. David has over 30 years of employment law experience in New Zealand and overseas. His expertise is recognised by his peers. For six years, he was appointed to the Employment Law Committee of the New Zealand Law Society. Before that, he served on the Workplace Relations and Employment Law Sub-committee of the Law Institute of Victoria, Australia. For more info, visit www.burtonlaw.co.nz or email firstname.lastname@example.org
PD SPOTLIGHT MICHAEL HEMPSEED AND JULIA SHALLCRASS
Addressing the tidal wave of mental health challenges The mental health fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic is prevalent in workplaces throughout New Zealand. Julia Shallcrass and Michael Hempseed provide guidance for supporting staff and managing mental health in the workplace.
adversity. It will not be this way forever, we will recover.
months and years wear on, the people’s resilience wears down.
During World War II, the outlook would have been incredibly bleak. Many people thought they would have to endure the pain of war forever. Despite the pain, life did improve, and so can our lives improve.
Many Kiwi businesses are shortstaffed, often due to sickness, which adds pressure to workloads. Some employees have long COVID, and many are simply exhausted from two years of battling the pandemic, while dealing with the rising cost of living.
How can you support your people?
2. Acknowledge your workers are exhausted To best support staff, acknowledge, rather than minimise, what people are going through.
hrough our mental health training, we have spoken to employees and employers from almost every industry in New Zealand. All are reporting a decline in mental health and wellbeing at work. Many employees have developed serious mental illnesses in the form of anxiety, depression and burnout. A recent report found that 68 per cent of employees were feeling burnt out. Businesses face productivity loss and performance issues, with large numbers of staff quitting, many from sheer exhaustion.
Acknowledge, rather than minimise, what people are going through. While this paints a gloomy picture, we must remember that humans have the power to overcome incredible
Employers can improve the situation for staff struggling with stress and mental health issues as follows. 1. Understand why your people are struggling Many people tell us: “I don’t know why I’m so tired or exhausted”. Yet, there are many reasons people are struggling at present. Research suggests the most significant psychological impact occurs several years after a disaster. Dr Rob Gordon, who studies the psychological effects of the Australian bush fires, found the worst psychological impact occurs three to five years later. Often a sense of community exists when a disaster occurs and people have the resilience to fight. As the
If an employee says they are tired, it can be tempting to say, “How can you be tired? You haven’t achieved that much over the past two years”. However, this ignores the stress we have lived through during the pandemic. Some tiredness may be due to physical reasons: a recent study found that people with long COVID have far less capacity in their lungs for oxygen. 3. Ask staff about their wellbeing Managers should ask staff about their wellbeing to support them in their roles and relieve them of any workrelated stress.
Would you like to learn more about how to manage mental health issues?
For more information, see HRNZ’s upcoming course: Managing Mental Illness at Work. Julia and Michael explore how to identify anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, discuss ways to prevent suicide, support staff returning to work, and manage poor performance and medical incapacity. Join this interactive course virtually on Friday 21 October 2022. For in-house training, contact Julia Shallcrass (www.kiwiboss.co.nz) and Michael Hempseed (https:// www.foh.co.nz/). Meet with your staff regularly to ask about their wellbeing. Discuss health and safety risks such as a high workload that may contribute to their sickness or stress. Find out what you can do to reduce workplace stressors. How can you help support them in their role? Don’t assume you can help support sick staff with your own initiatives.
If your team members have health issues, ask them for medical updates and guidance from their medical professionals on how to support them at work.
To reduce presenteeism, clarify that your business expects sick employees to stay home and recover. 4. Listen to your body Presenteeism in the workplace can lower productivity and lead to burnout. While presenteeism is linked to more sick leave over the long term, many Kiwis continue to turn up to work despite being sick, according to a recent workplace wellness report. To reduce presenteeism, clarify that your business expects sick employees to stay home and recover. Tell staff to listen to their body rather than the demands of their work schedule. Encourage staff to ask for help if they are struggling to meet deadlines or client demands. If you feel tired and exhausted all the time, that is your body telling you to rest. If you don’t follow what
your body wants, this can lead to physical and mental health issues, including burnout.
Michael Hempseed is the author of the book Being A True Hero: Understanding and Preventing Suicide in Your Community. Although he speaks on ‘dark topics’, the participants at his seminars say they walk away feeling inspired and hopeful, and they even have a few laughs along the way. Many nonprofessionals come to his seminars, and they say they learn a lot. But, professionals and experts in the field, such as medical doctors, psychologists and counsellors, also say they learn a lot. Michael has set up a specialist mental health service called Frontiers of Hope, which can see people online from all over New Zealand. https://www.foh.co.nz/ Julia Shallcrass is the founder of KiwiBoss, an HR and employment law training company. Julia is an employment lawyer who provides in-house training to organisations throughout New Zealand. She presents many courses through HRNZ, including Effective Performance Reviews and Giving Feedback, Managing Poor Performers, Managing Mental Illness at Work, Negotiating Exit Settlements for Problem Employees, and Restructuring and Redundancy.
RESEARCH UPDATE ANNA EARL AND FIONA EDGAR
How to create a healthy work environment Anna Earl and Fiona Edgar outline recent research that gives insights into how HR professionals can create a mentally healthy workplace.
early half of New Zealanders will meet the criteria for a diagnosis of mental illness at some stage during their lives” says Business NZ. According to Ignite Aotearoa, it is “a legal responsibility to manage risks to mental wellbeing and mental health” in the workplace. Research on mental health in the workplace suggests the disruptions to employees caused by COVID-19 have served to heighten awareness about workplace factors that contribute to poor mental health. Mental health challenges are now the norm among employees across all levels, and more employees are discussing mental health issues at work. Many organisations have sought to address this problem by developing and implementing a range of support mechanisms, including mental health days, fourday work weeks, flexible working hours and counselling services. However, HR professionals should work on two important aspects, if they are serious about creating a mentally healthy work environment: changes
to their organisation’s culture and values and developing deeper connections through social events.
Recent research by Harvard Business School found that developing support mechanisms for mental health is not enough; a re-evaluation of the organisation’s culture and values is also required. For organisational culture to change, everyone in the workplace needs to play a role, not just HR professionals. The challenge for HR professionals is how to go about effectively training their leaders, managers and employees about mental health, thereby fostering a stigma-free culture towards mental health in their organisations. Where this is achieved, a culture of accountability, trust and support is created. Cultural shift in organisations requires a change in values, and this can come from leaders talking and sharing their mental health experiences with colleagues. HR professionals need to work together with organisational leaders to change workplace behaviour and create an environment in which members are encouraged to talk about their mental health. This openness helps to normalise mental health, and by walking the talk it also shows
employees that their leadership lives and breathes the values espoused by the organisation.
Two important aspects need to be worked on: changes to organisations’ cultures and values and developing deeper connections through social events.
Beyond the alcohol
In New Zealand, work social events (eg, after-work drinks, celebratory functions, and business travel with clients and colleagues) are a vehicle often used by organisations to foster collegial relationships and impart the organisation’s culture. In many cases, it is alcohol that provides the ‘social lubricant’ for these activities. Despite the view that drinking alcohol at workplace social events is now actively discouraged, and in some cases expressly prohibited, a 2017 study of New Zealand workplaces found that, in around 70 per cent of workplaces, alcohol was available, and, in some cases, provided and paid for by the employer. Where alcohol is made available, overindulgence can and does occur, which may lead to trouble; a feature that does not bode well for
harmonious relationship development or mental health at work.
To develop deeper connections in the workplace, social events should not be primarily associated with alcohol consumption; instead the focus should be on meaningful conversations between employees. However, it is not only alcohol at social events that poses a risk to employers’ and employees’ relationship development. Recent research finds the cost of lost productivity attributable to alcoholrelated issues in New Zealand workplaces to sit around $1.65 billion per year. This figure is made up of lost productivity resulting from employees’ presenteeism and, to a lesser extent, their absenteeism, as well as the costs resulting from employers’ handling of these issues. The most vulnerable worker groups are males who are young (under 25
years) and those working in stressful occupations. HR professionals can help mitigate the risks and harm resulting from alcohol in the workplace by focusing on prevention rather than cure and education instead of punishment. Efforts with the greatest efficacy are multi-pronged (ie, targeting work, home, community and society), multi-faceted and focused on eliciting attitudinal and behavioural change.1
We spend a lot of time at work, so this sphere of our lives provides an ideal space to shape and guide attitudes and behaviour. To develop deeper connections in the workplace, social events should not be primarily associated with alcohol consumption; instead the focus should be on meaningful conversations between employees. Mental health is a health and safety obligation for employers. Organisational cultures need to be open, so employees feel comfortable and empowered to discuss their mental health issues and to be educated about why it is important to look after their mental health. Where this occurs, the benefits
can be wide-reaching, extending beyond the workplace to families and the community.
Dr Anna Earl (PhD) teaches advanced human resource management. Her main research interests revolve around the relationship between government and multinational enterprises, and the practices of qualitative researchers. Her current research interests are in emerging economies and stakeholder relationships. In particular, she is interested in organisational change under complex institutional conditions, as well as the role of leadership styles and multinational enterprises. Dr Fiona Edgar (PhD) teaches and researches in human resource management and employment relations. She worked in industry for several years before entering tertiary education. Fiona’s current research interests include strategic HRM and, in particular, how HRM affects employees in the workplace, as well as the relationship between HRM and organisational performance. Her most recent publications explore the effects of employees’ emotions on workplace performance and sustainability in the context of HRM.
1 Edgar, F., McAndrew, I., & Sullivan, T. (2017). Alcohol: The impact on work and workers, Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 33: 241–261.
AM I MANAGING? NATALIE BARKER
It's ok to cry Our regular columnist Natalie Barker, Head of Transformation at Southern Cross Health Insurance, shares what she’s most grateful for in her life and her work.
cried during my annual performance review. Not because I was upset or processing confronting feedback, but simply because my leader asked me to share reflections from the past year, and some of those reflections carried strong emotions. I cried at an executive planning day, too. The meeting began with a check-in from each person, and I started crying before I even started speaking. I cried catching up with one of my colleagues last week. She was having a tough time, and her experiences triggered something in me. I didn’t use to shed tears at work. I’m sure the younger me would’ve been mortified to lose control in the way I’m quite comfortable doing now. It’s not just that I’m older and, with it, less self-conscious; it’s that our workplaces allow us to be more vulnerable, more human than in the past. And I’m very grateful for that. The past couple of years have been tough for my family (as they have for
many of us). My husband is going through some pretty difficult mental health challenges, and it’s been a rocky road for us all. Personally, I’ve moved all over the wellbeing spectrum, struggling some days, thriving on others, but mostly I just feel grateful. I’m grateful for the support available to me. I feel grateful my leader asks me how I’m doing and makes it clear that I can share as little or as much as I like. I’m grateful she listens without judgement and offers support without telling me what to do. I’m grateful I work for an organisation that encourages me to look after myself, finding ways to make it easier to care for my own physical and mental wellbeing, in turn giving me resilience to face what comes my way.
years, especially in good workplaces. We’ve still got a long way to go. As leaders, we have a critical role to ensure this continues and that all our people have the opportunity to flourish. I strive to be more like my own leader, balancing her care for me and my whānau with a respect for privacy. As a leader, I choose to start conversations that invite other people to be open and vulnerable. I choose to notice when things aren’t okay and offer a safe space to share what’s going on. As a leader, I choose to cry at work when things matter to me, and to be accepting and supportive when other people do the same.
I’m grateful for my work friends who’ve made it their business to learn more about mental health and persisted in making their support known. I’m grateful for my husband’s employer, too. They continue to offer empathy and patience, making it clear that everyone deserves a pathway to recovery and fulfilment. I’m grateful the stigma around mental illness and mental health conditions has reduced over recent
Natalie Barker is Head of Transformation at Southern Cross Health Insurance. She has been leading people for 15 years and believes that leveraging people’s strengths and passions is the best way to drive engagement and get stuff done.