[On-screen slide: 'Early Learning Leadership Wellbeing']
So we'll start, we'll get started now. My name is Marion Miller, and I'm a facilitator with Smiling Mind and have a background in leadership, coaching and mindfulness, and have recently finished a degree in counselling as well.
So just a few housekeeping rules. If you can turn your video off, keep yourself on mute because we've got a lot of participants joining us today, using the chat box as a way to communicate and share with the group, and we really encourage that.
It's really valuable to share your reflections with each other so that we can really create that community of practice as you are all experts in your field and a valuable and rich resource to each other as well.
So today's workshop is really a leadership workshop designed for early learning leaders, both present and emerging, and we'll be focusing on the wellbeing of the individual, the team, and the organizational level.
There'll be a lot of information in today's workshop, so I'll ask you to turn off distractions wherever possible and just really give this your full attention.
And you'll really get more out of this session if you participate and engage with the content and sort of reflect on it and how it relates to your own unique situation and workplace.
So the reflective activities will involve some writing, so if you can have that pen and paper handy, or even a blank screen open on your desktop, and I've just invited everyone to pop their name and location of their center in the chat box, which is along the bottom of your screen. And it looks like everyone's found that.
[On-screen slide: Acknowledgement of Country]
Okay, so let's begin with an acknowledgement of country. I'd like to acknowledge the First Nations people, the traditional custodians of the various lands and waters of Australia.
And today, I'm facilitating this session on the lands of Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nations, a beautiful cultural landscape here in Melbourne.
And I acknowledge that we have lots of various lands across the whole of this
amazing country here today. And I invite you to pay your respects to elders, past, present, and the elders of tomorrow.
So now I'd like everyone to just see if you can uncross your legs, and we're just going to do a very short little arriving meditation practice to really arrive in this space and just settle into the workshop.
So perhaps taking up a dignified posture, keeping your back nice and upright, not too slouched or not too stiff. And if it's comfortable for you to do so, perhaps just lowering or closing your eyes and just turning your attention inwards and taking three nice, full, deep breaths.
Just really allowing yourself to settle into this moment, to arrive here fully.
Some of you may have had quite busy days, and it's just a really good little practice to just pause for a moment, taking the time to just check in with yourself, so noticing your breathing, the inhale, the exhale, perhaps noticing your feet on the floor. Where the soles of the feet, touch the floor, where you are supported by the earth. Notice your body on the chair that you're sitting on, all the points of contact, perhaps noticing if there's any tensions that you're holding onto in the body and if possible, just allowing them to release a little bit more, if that's possible.
Just taking this chance to really come into the moment, being open and ready for today's learning. And then gently, in your own time, you might like to wiggle your toes, your hands, your fingers. Similarly, opening your eyes and just navigating and noticing a couple of things in your environment, in your visual field. When you're ready, bringing your attention back to the screen.
We often like to do a little arriving practice before our meetings at Smiling Mind, and I think that's a really great place for, a great practice for all workplaces to do.
[On-screen slide: 'Today's Session']
Okay, so moving into today's session, the overall purpose of our workshop today is really about leadership and wellbeing, to provide you with some understanding, knowledge and tools to foster good mental health and wellbeing in your people at a personal level, but also how to develop positive mental health well-being culture within your team and organization.
And the workshop's based on the evidence that there's a clear link between our experience in the workplace and mental health.
So under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2004, as leaders, you must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to health, and this includes mental health and wellbeing.
So today's session will cover the importance of investing in mental health and wellbeing for individuals, teams, and organizations, your role as a leader in creating a thriving culture, occupational health and safety risks, and reducing work-related stress factors, and organizational wellbeing, prevention and promotion strategies.
So really, leaders are really instrumental in creating workplaces that promote health and wellbeing and prevent harm that's often caused by these work-related stress factors.
So as well as the content and activities I'm sharing with you today, I'll also be posting some helpful links and resources to support you in creating a mentally healthy workplace, and they will be followed up as well in the email that will be sent out.
[On-screen slide: 'The issue']
So the world of work these days is really characterized by a rapid pace, a lot of pressure, overwhelm and complexity.
There's this constant expectation of improved and more efficient services and output, and often with less resources.
And the resulting work stress has had a negative impact on leadership and employee mental health and wellbeing.
And this has really been compounded and perpetuated during the pandemic, and COVID-19, and now we have this return to the new normal, with the shadow of future lockdowns and pandemics ever present.
Our 2021 Smiling Mind annual State of Mind report found that the pandemic has created significant impact on mental health and shines a light on the fact that at present, many Australians are struggling.
So adults are reporting high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, and overall psychological stress than last year.
And parents are reporting a significant impact on their children's mental health and wellbeing as a result of the pandemic.
So outside the physical impacts of COVID-19, the mental health has been identified by responders as the most pressing health challenge for Australians right now.
And even before the pandemic, there was a real rise we were seeing in mental health issues in the population.
[On-screen slide: 'It makes good business sense!']
So there really is this growing awareness of how important mental health or wellbeing in the workplace is.
There's a moral society, societal and business case for improving it.
So some of the statistics of individual and organizational outcomes and benefits from focusing on wellbeing across industries include better overall performance, less burnout, more commitment to the organization and the work and more job satisfaction.
And there's also a lot less absenteeism and fewer doctor visits when people are in cultures that are mentally healthy and have good wellbeing, and there's a lot of healthcare savings and a lot less lost time for the company as well.
So you can see there's a good business case for it as well.
[On-screen slide: 'What is mental health?']
So what is mental health? At Smiling Mind, we like to use the World Health Organization definition, it's quite holistic, and that is, a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, and can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
So mental health is not really just the absence of mental illness, it's rather a state of mental health and wellbeing.
So the work-related stress factors that we'll be looking at later on today is a psychosocial hazard that can definitely erode mental health and wellbeing over time, and that increases the psychological and physical risk of injury and harm.
So work is a really big part of our daily lives and can help to prevent mental ill health by giving us that feeling of purpose and a sense of contribution at work.
So later in the workshop, we'll look at how we can help you manage work-related stress factors and improve mental health.
[On-screen slide: 'How does this practically apply?']
So how does this practically apply to you?
So the foc, having a strategic focus on good mental health and wellbeing helps employees build awareness and skills, leverage resource, as in, and create habits that they, so that they can not just survive, but actually thrive and flourish in the workplace.
So a key step is understanding where your people are at and what is needed in that particular situation, and especially in the uncertainty of the pandemic and the impact that that's had on mental health and wellbeing.
So it's not just about addressing those with a mental health condition.
Work-related factors can really affect employee mental health and are known as a psychosocial hazards, and they are anything in that design or the management of the work that can affect employees' mental health, so more core stress.
So as leaders, you really have a legal obligation to ensure that these risks are reduced.
If these work-related factors are not managed well, there's increased risk of work-related stress, which can lead to physical injury, mental injury, or even both at the same time.
Good related work practices that improve employees' psychological health and wellbeing and reduce psychologic, psychosocial hazards and risks also result in improved performance for people, and that's with or without a mental health condition.
So we'll look more closely at those things soon.
[On-screen slide: 'Leading well starts with leading yourself']
We really want to reinforce that leading well in an organization really starts with leading yourself, so all good leadership begins with self-leadership.
So this is a real strong connection to your own self-care and mental health and wellbeing.
So leaders can not be expected to provide calm and composure for their employees when they're feeling just as overwhelmed, anxious, or ungrounded, but at the same time, leaders are human, and we have the same fears, worries and insecurities as everyone else, but we also have a lot more responsibility in the role of leadership.
[On-screen slide: 'The wellbeing and performance equation']
So here's a little graph we use to describe wellbeing and performance and how they work together.
And it's important on foc, to focus on both well-being and performance.
So just focusing on performance without considering wellbeing needs can push people really into those more less desirable zones.
For example, distressed but functional zone into distressed and dysfunctional really is beginning to risk burnout.
So the aim here is to really coach people to the top right-hand quadrant.
And this is dependent on the capacity to have those really quality conversations and sharing knowledge of mental health and wellbeing with your employees.
So lot of the knowledge that we're going to provide today is foundational knowledge on how to gauge and build individual and team well-being.
[On-screen slide: 'Your role in building a thriving culture']
So leaders have a real opportunity and responsibility to create a culture that enables people to
thrive and perform well. The work of leadership now is to ensure a conducive work environment that reduces the work-related stress factors, and one that will not only create, one that will not create or exacerbate mental health issues, one where workers feel supported.
The leader's role and duty is to be responsible for mitigating and managing risks outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
And also, leaders are role models for all aspects of life, really, not just in meeting their business objectives and outcomes, but also in how they engage and motivate their teams, and how they look after their own vitality.
So it's really those three aspects that leaders can do this through, which is managing your people, managing the work and managing yourself.
[On-screen slide: 'A systems lens']
So this is a systems lens, and it really helps us start to see the complexity of the world of work and the role of leadership.
So wellbeing's impacted by a complex and dynamic interaction factors.
And this means that any intervention to improve wellbeing needs to consider all of those different layers of the system.
The research shows that developing a combined systems approach incorporate, one that incorporates both the individual and the organizational strategies across the system is most effective in intervening in relation to job stress and improving employee mental health and health behaviours.
Ideally, these strategies to address mental health should be integrated with those broader organizational management processes.
So hopefully, you're all in an environment where the organizational priorities are aligned to your wellbeing efforts and vice versa, but at the same time, don't be discouraged if they're not.
It is possible to influence the climate of your immediate team to create a thriving environment.
[On-screen slide: 'The wellbeing elements']
Okay, so we're going to have a look now at the wellbeing elements, and these are all based on science, wellbeing science research, and it really is a framework that Smiling Mind has developed for human flourishing, and for developing what we like to call psychological capital.
So we have awareness, which really refers to that heightened and flexible attentiveness, being able to be aware of our perceptions, our internal cues about the environment, things like body sensations, thoughts, emotions.
This is something that mindfulness practice can really help develop.
Connection, which refers to our subjective sense of care and kinship towards other people that promotes supportive and positive relationships and caring interactions.
Insight, which refers to our self-knowledge, the manner in which thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and other factors shape our subjective experience, and especially our sense of self.
Purpose, this refers to our sense of clarity concerning personally meaningful aims and the values that one is able to apply in our daily life.
Efficacy refers to a person's confidence in their ability to control outcomes and overcome difficult challenges.
Resilience is that ability to bounce back after a challenge, or a risk, or a failure, even.
Hope is that motivation to succeed in a specific goal, or the ability to come up with a different pathway when the first try doesn't succeed.
And optimism refers to the expectation of having a very positive outcome.
So just getting your pen and paper ready, I'd like you to do a little bit of an assessment of where you are with these particular wellbeing elements in this point in time, and it really is just a snapshot in time.
So looking across these these eight, so what I'm actually going to do, too, I'm going to post this reflection activity in the chat box so that you can have them there as well.
So looking across these eight elements of wellbeing, I'd like you to pick two areas that you feel are working really well for you, and two areas where you feel there's room for development.
So I'll just post that up into the chat box.
And then I'd like you to create one practical, smart goal, which is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-framed, and build one of the two areas that you need to develop, that you feel you need some development in, build that into a smart goal.
You also might like to consider if you need extra support.
With this, where can you find it, for example, a psychologist, an EAP provider, a consultant, professional development, researching articles, books, videos, et cetera.
And then at the end, I'd like you to share your goal in the chat box if you're comfortable to do so, where everyone can sort of get ideas from our community of practice here today.
And there will be a recording made of this workshop as well, so everyone can have a look at that.
So we'll just take about,
we'll take about five or 10 minutes with that one.
And once you've developed your goal, if you could pop that up in the chat box and we can have a look.
A few people have said awareness and connection, optimism.
Going well, insight and purpose.
Carolyn said, I have optimism and purpose, looking forward to build team connection and build supportive culture next year.
That's a good example of a goal.
Working well, awareness and insight.
Yeah, it really is very relevant, isn't it, after pandemic, and that, not having that ability to be social and have relationships as easily.
Connection, staff meetings to be acknowledged.
(mumbles) say, recognition or reward, peace, resilience.
I have this with my service, but it's hard to achieve when it comes from my bosses.
My goal is to have everyone in a hope. H.C. say, service, working towards achieving a new qualification in my application, a new, sorry, a new qualification, and the way I'll do this is to sign up and work towards my diploma myself.
Again, with COVID, I believe we feel a bit lost with our purpose as educators.
Great, so reconnecting with purpose, being more clear for both individuals and team, connection and hope, going to work with awareness and connection.
Thanks to my daily, the vipassana meditation.
Working with our communities, interpersonal relationships, lots of connection, which is good to see, resilience, optimism.
So in my job as inclusive partner, mentor, and coach, I need to build connection with the rest of the team.
We're getting some really good responses there in the chat.
Leadership role at service, I'm working on my purpose as I learn my role and clarity, working on learning something new each day and moving to, moving forward with patience and confidence.
Not always good at reading situations.
People could do some research on this, great, and there's so many good resources and we will have some more information on that as well today.
My goal to develop better work habits help with my feelings of exhaustion, which leads to me having no resilience.
Work habits are really important.
Goal, linking to purpose and efficacy.
Be more confident in my role as educator, so my purpose and clarity has improved.
And working with a mentor, thinking about the way I lead my team.
Oh, they're really great.
So many of them that's so great, that everyone's developing a goal.
So it's really good to put that, to make the goal timeframe, too, so that you sort of have a check-in to see your progress and sort of measure where you feel you're tracking with your goal as well.
So lots on connection and hope, purpose, efficacy, optimism, hoping our staff employees with their sense of passion in the field.
Okay, Lauren said she can't hear anything at the moment.
I'm not sure why.
It might be your speakers 'cause I think everyone else is able to hear, but I will speak up a little bit more.
So let's move on to the next slide now.
[On-screen slide: 'Gauging your team's wellbeing']
They're really great responses and lots of different responses and so many great ideas there that you shared with each other.
So a big part of working with a team and understanding where the team wellbeing is, is being able to gauge and read, sort of, really understand, so there's a real importance in observing, connecting, and seeking to understand before acting.
So being able to sort of gauge and address your team's level of wellbeing can really help you then decide what actions to take.
So it's really about having that understanding and some interpersonal skills.
So some strategies that could help develop team wellbeing include sharing the wellbeing elements activity with your employees, starting the wellbeing challenge in the Smiling Mind workplace app, starting a mindfulness practice at work using the Smiling Mind app, and that's free to download, starting a mindfulness practice during lunch breaks at work, or before your staff meetings, so you're doing like a community shared practice together.
It's a really great way to start a meeting because it really helps you sort of just settle into the meeting and really start to focus on the task at hand, rather than sort of what went on beforehand, and help, it helps everyone sort of self-regulate and shift contexts, particularly if you're working with children and then coming into sort of a staff meeting, you do have to, have a think about changing contexts.
So you could also use your meetings to focus on different themes in the wellbeing elements, and then just checking in on your own mental health and wellbeing every day.
So just to sort of gauge how you're tracking with that, and you might have a little ritual that you do during the day, like having a little cup of tea quietly by yourself, or a bit of journal writing, whatever that might look like for you, taking a walk in nature, for example.
And then also having a plan when you need extra support with your wellbeing or even your leadership.
So having to think about what service providers do you have in your network for extra support when you don't know how to help, things like referrals to doctors for a mental health care plan, seeing a psychologist, or an EAP provider.
And some of you may already know, the department have appointed BENLYSTA group to deliver EAP program, and the program's immediately available for eligible teachers and educators, and includes four hours of, four hours per year of confidential counselling for teachers and educators employed by VECTEA signatory service, mediation for community-based, kindergarten services on referral from the department to assist with kindergartens experiencing workplace disputes or conflicts that can benefit from additional support, and a critical incidents response service, which may be available to all funded kindergarten services referred by the department should they experience a sudden or serious emergency or trauma within the kindergarten community.
So it's important to note that this is only for services that have signed up to VECTEA.
Employees is not covered under VECTEA need to contact their service.
So just having another chance to reflect on how you're gauging your team's wellbeing, so looking at how you're observing, connecting, or seeking to understand your team's wellbeing.
Using your notebook and your pen, or the page you've opened on your desktop, I'd like you to just write down your thoughts on these following questions, and again, I'll just pop them up into the chat box so that you've got them up there.
So the links will be all emailed to you as well, by the way, after the workshop, so if there's anything that's been mentioned in this workshop, they will be emailed out to you.
So this reflective activity, I'd like you to, and just dot points the good, just some thoughts around two strengths and weaknesses engaging team wellbeing, and how can you continue to improve your skills?
So when looking at, when looking at your team wellbeing across observation, connection and understanding, what areas are you quite strong in, what might you need a little bit more development team, and how can you continue to improve those skills?
And then number two, reflect on this current state of your team's wellbeing through the wellbeing elements and what can you do to continue to support your employees' mental health and wellbeing.
So I'll just pop the slides back, one, so that you've got the wellbeing
[On-screen slide: 'The wellbeing elements']
and you can actually take a photo too of the wellbeing elements slide, and that will help you, be able to reflect on that.
So what can you do to continue to support your employee mental health and wellbeing?
- [Woman 1] Strength and weaknesses.
- If everyone can just keep themselves on mute, that would be great.
And Shae said ensuring you give the educators the time and privacy they need, especially your full focus.
So that's essentially, isn't it, two strengths and weakness, strength.
One is, open the door for my team, two, positive problem-solver attitude.
Two weaknesses, time-poor, yes, and workaholic.
I could set time aside to see my team in the lunchroom, actually take breaks with our service lunch room and be able to catch up with the team.
Okay, would anyone else like to share their reflections in the chat box, and perhaps even just some dot points to, on what you can do to support your team's mental health or wellbeing?
Nadine agrees with Erin there. (chuckles)
Strengths, making time for when they need to talk, creating a plan on how to help.
Weaknesses, listening to educators when they speak and ensuring they're being heard with the full focus time-poor.
Agree to regular one-on-one time for staff in a private space, create a safe space for the team and children, provide them with extra support outside of hours.
Showing them there's someone that cares about them when others might not.
Got a weakness there, that's overthinking, actively listening, following up with support, staying positive and calm at all times.
Strengths, noticing when teams are stressed, giving support when needed.
Strengths, always having a can-do attitude.
Strengths, understanding, feeling empathic with the team.
Mixture of needs within the team that can be quite challenging.
My goal is to become more aware of these through connecting more informally, which is also tricky when you're time-poor.
That's why it's always good to have a plan.
Through observation during session time, understand what my staff may need time off the floor, doing checking, one-on-one charts through the months where you can sit down over a cup of tea.
Where there's help available, you can provide, or just having a chat to help, yeah, that incidental chats can be really helpful for connection and just to be able to sort of gauge how the team well-being's going.
So we've got some great responses there.
Areas for improvement, time-poor due to a large team, making sure mental health and wellbeing activities support everyone's needs.
Yeah, that's a great point about having that diversity, and particularly when you do have a lot of different people, ensuring that you've got something that everyone sort of connects with.
Margaret said, create a timeout, a pleasant place off the floor.
Yeah, a really nice space in the staffroom can be really helpful for the team to sort of connect and to share and have a space of their own as well.
Create a culture where educators can come and sit down, just to chat informally, spending time in rooms, where they have puzzles to reduce the boss-versus-educator,
(mumbles) type cast.
Yeah, you want to remove those sort of barriers and sort of create a real connection there.
And Natalie says, sometimes she feels it's a weakness to be in that problem solving, in it would have to be with problem solving in a positive way.
Shay says, we send a quote each week that could be reminding our educators they are cared about and valued.
Yeah, nice little messages, positivity quotes can be really helpful sometimes.
Yeah, making sure that staff take time out when they feel overwhelmed from the room, exactly.
And time-poor is a big factor that only for me, not only for me, but the team and that's very tricky.
Yeah, so it's recognizing what's also difficult, and sometimes that can be a way to connect too because you realize that it's not just you that's feeling it.
And Linda's asking where she finds quotes.
Checking with all team members regularly, supporting, listening, nice relaxing staff room.
Yeah, so that staff room can really create a real sanctuary where you can do these wellbeing activities together and even invite employees to bring in some of theirs to share with the rest of the team as well, because that can quite often give them the autonomy and a sense of contribution and purpose too, so that can be a really, really good thing for other staff members as well.
As the mental health and wellbeing officer I've had the opportunity to create a mindfulness room for all staff and they were able to use it whenever they feel that they need some time off to reflect and take a breath.
Yeah, and it doesn't take too much to create that sort of space, just, you know, you can just have some cushions, or you know, some nice indoor plants in the new environment, if you, if that's okay.
It doesn't take a lot to just create that kind of sanctuary or a space where people feel like they can just have a bit of a rest and a bit of a breather.
So we'll continue.
[On-screen slide: 'Taking action']
So when you start to be able to gauge your team well-being, you might decide that you'd like to take action and there's different levels of interventions that can be done, and they are at what we call a primary, secondary or tertiary level.
So promotion and prevention focus, which is really what Smiling Mind focuses on when we do our workshops.
That's most effective at that primary level.
So primary interventions will enable an informed approach to building a thriving culture and realistic expectations and outcomes.
So secondary interventions are also helpful for individual knowledge and skills to help people cope with stress.
And these can be particularly useful in a post-pandemic world.
Things like mindfulness, the wellbeing elements, they're all intervention strategies that can be helpful at both the primary and secondary level.
The secondary level is really more about helping the individuals with knowledge and skills, whereas the primary focus is more about the, sort of more policy and procedure and organizational processes.
And tertiary interventions require a referral to a specialist professional to manage, treat and support recovery.
So there's a range of activities that can be implemented to build team culture at the organizational and team level by understanding work-related stress factors and developing strategies to manage them step by step.
And we'll look at the work-related factors next, which really takes it up to that organizational wellbeing level.
So it's really critical to fully understand the context and source of the issues as best as you can to help you to determine an appropriate course of action, and to also understand that there's never a perfect solution.
So when you do have, start having an intervention, you can understand that it will impact the whole system as well, particularly if you're working at that primary level.
So spending valuable time in consultation with employees on issues of well-being, health and safety that directly affect them will help you understand what steps to take.
So even sharing information with them and getting their views on matters really encourages them to be involved and get their input.
[On-screen video 'Create a Mentally Healthy Workplace']
Okay, so now we're just going to watch a little video, and this one's all about the work-related stress factors that I've been talking about.
- [Automated Voice] But what is a mentally healthy workplace?
- I'll just pop that to the start.
Here you go.
- [Automated Voice] We know work is a big (mumbles) and can help promote our mental health by giving us a feeling of purpose and a sense of contribution.
There's a clear link between our experience in the workplace and our mental health.
Thriving at work can have a profoundly positive impact on how a person feels.
Under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2004, employers must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
This includes psychological health, but what is a mentally healthy workplace?
Firstly, it's one which has measures in place to prevent harm by identifying risks to mental health.
It manages harm from an early stage and supports team members' recovery along the way.
So if a person's mental health is connected to their work, how are your workplace systems and practices affecting your team?
There are a number of work-related factors which can be controlled and managed by employers to create a mentally healthy workplace and to prevent mental injuries.
Work-related factors that are not controlled and managed can increase stress.
This can lead to physical injury, mental injury, or even both at the same time.
Of course, workers can be exposed to more than one work-related factor at a time.
Some may always be present, while others occur occasionally.
Common work-related factors that can become hazards if not managed are: low job control, high and low job demands, poor support, poor organizational change management, poor organizational justice, low recognition and reward, low role clarity, poor workplace relationships, poor environmental conditions, remote and isolated work, and violent or traumatic events.
Here's a few examples.
Employees need challenging tasks to maintain their motivation and to develop new skills, but they also need to be able to cope.
Let's call these job demands.
They can have a significant impact for your team.
If job demands are high, think about the support employees need from supervisors and their work colleagues.
And think about the level of control the employee has in their job to meet demands.
Poor workplace relationships can negatively affect the way an employee feels at work.
When groups of people work together, it is likely some conflicts will arise from time to time, so it's important that a workplace takes proactive steps towards preventing and managing conflict by developing a culture that promotes appropriate workplace behaviour and respectful relationships.
It's important to consider the environmental conditions in your workplace and the impact on how someone can feel.
Air quality, noise, and temperature can increase the risk of stress to an employee.
An employee may not identify and report these factors immediately, but over time, that can impact on their mental health and contribute to a mental injury.
Good work design enables employees to be engaged in work that is healthy, safe, and productive.
Consulting with employees on matters that affect their mental health at work is the first and most important step.
Bring your team along for the journey.
As an employer, you have the power to create a positive, supportive and inclusive workplace and to develop good systems of work for supporting mental health.
Discover more about the work-related factors at https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/
[On-screen slide: 'Work related factors']
- I just ask that everyone put themselves on mute.
I think we've got some background noise, so that would be helpful if you could do that.
Yes, we'll be providing links to the WorkWell and WorkSafe websites for you, and you'll receive that in an email follow up.
Okay, so let's have a look now at the work-related stress factors, so these are commonly recognized as contributing to the OHSA safety hazards, and also organizational wellbeing strategies that target these work-related stress factors do so at that primary and secondary level.
So in every workplace, and in your case, early learning centers, work-related factors are impacting culture and climate and the mental health and wellbeing of all stakeholders in the system.
Work-related factors are anything in the design or management of the work that increases the risk of work-related stress, so they are referred to as psychosocial hazards.
So through today's workshop, we have been focusing on mental health and wellbeing and how it's related to your role and responsibility for occupational health and safety in your organization and risks in early learning childhood education and care as identified by WorkSafe include, these are the most physical hazards, include lifting, carrying, moving children and objects, working at low levels on the floor with children's furniture, slips, trips, and falls, for example, on the floor or children's furniture, or standing on chairs to put up children's artwork, communicable diseases, including COVID-19, work-related stress and bullying and harassment, so not to forget those actual physical risks as well.
But when you don't proactively manage and reduce the psychosocial hazards in the workplace, the risk for either the physical or psychological harm is actually increased, and sometimes it's both.
[On-screen slide: 'Strategies for Managing Work Related Factors']
So now we're going to look at some strategies to help you manage the work-related factors, and these are from the WorkWell website, that you will be receiving a link from, and to, sorry, and you will find lots of resources in there, if you want to go sort of deeper into this, or when you're doing your planning, for example, you might like to have a really good look at it because there's a lot of really great resources.
So just getting out your journal, just getting your journal ready, I'm just going to post this little reflection up in the chat.
So just reflecting on your workplace, your particular workplace, environment, write down and reflect on at least two work-related factors that impact you in your workplace.
For example, how do they show up?
How do you respond?
How has COVID-19 perpetuated these factors?
Just take a moment to do that.
Then there's a second part to this reflection, and I'll also pop that up in the chat box.
In considering through a systemic lens, reflect on how you might address the two main work-related stress factors impacting your workplace.
And you can also use the well-being elements to guide this intervention, as well as some of the little strategies that are up on the slide.
We'll just take about 10 minutes to do this little activity.
And again, if you'd like to pop them up in the chat, that's great.
Just sharing your dot points of your key work-related stress factors and perhaps a strategy for addressing it too.
So it's always good to, when you're doing this sort of reflective work, to start to prioritize, so look at the ones that are really, you know, you want to optimize what you're doing, so the ones that are causing the most impact, because if, yeah, you can see how a lot of them are interrelated, and if you sort of narrow it down to one and start to build a strategy around that, you might find that it actually filters through some of the other ones as well.
So Vicky said, high work demand at the moment.
Having time off soon to relax and will not work.
High and low job demand.
Implement good work design, provide flexible and healthy workloads.
So being flexible is really important, the workload, being realistic about workloads, having that ability to compartmentalise as well and focusing on what you can do in the, that present moment as well is really, really helpful for the high and low job demands.
It's quite often, you're sort of projecting out to what you've got to do the whole, for the whole week or next week, and it takes you away from actually doing what you're doing now.
Well, high and low job demands, lots of documentation, being an overachiever has its downsides, remote and isolated work, providing remote learning during COVID lockdowns, the workload increased but only because it was a new process a big learning curve.
So a lot of high and low job demands, staff shortage, huge workload, no relief, huge paperwork demand.
Healthy workload can look different for individuals.
Yeah, so recognizing that diversity and, within your team, perhaps.
Will support, set up mentors and allowing time to support lesser experienced educators who may need support in this, in their work.
So there's a good goal or a good strategy on how you can manage poor support, so building up some team mentorship is really good, and even peer support can be really helpful as well, creating peer support groups.
Team shortages, staff shortages, putting more workload on current staff, feeling guilty so not calling in sick due to lack of staff, training knowledge gaps, induction for team members is inclusive of organizational requirements and expectations and role expectations.
So that's that onboarding process and ensuring that new team members have all that information
as they come on board and setting those expectations from real, from the start is really good.
COVID has often meant we're more isolated at work.
Being in rural Victoria, I'm already remote.
So if I can't catch up with them personally, we have a lot of educators in our organization that meet regularly via zoom, so making the best you can out of digital connections.
Can still be rewarding and meaningful.
Dropping off and pickups at the door, communication with families.
We've been phoning to contact and support throughout the day with the educators to be covered by EL.
(mumbles) says lack of motivation, being cynical about their employees, employer taking action, deal with it, allow release time to allow time away from work.
Yeah, really important to recognize cynicism can often lead to burnout, so recognizing that they perhaps need to get away from work to feel refreshed and to restart and recover.
Allowing time and financial support for team building activities, such as meals together away from work, or doing an activity that all enjoy.
And of course, everything's been exacerbated by COVID-19.
So it was important we offered team building and release time to support mental health.
So instead of going through, I think, a recovery process now that we've all sort of come out of lockdown and it's going to take some time and a lot of support, so you really have that opportunity as leaders to provide that.
Most staff have not taken proper breaks for some time, or if they have, they were just stuck at home, so ensuring they have, they can take leave whenever they require.
Yeah, everyone's feeling quite fatigued.
How are we going with the time?
So any other responses to that, any other strategies?
We've had quite similar work-related factors identified and lots of different strategies mentioned on how to help and how to make a difference.
So when you do get the email, you can log on to WorkSafe's WorkWell toolkit and you can have a look at each of the work factors and click into each of the strategies and they have, each of the strategies goes deeper into an intervention or a way to take action to make a difference in that particular area of your processes.
Violent and, or trauma, engaging with ISP to develop strategies and access funding streams to support team members.
Yeah, that's really important.
Having that plan in place for when you experience violent or traumatic events can make a massive difference because at the time when it happens, you don't want to be too reactive, you want to have that go-to plan that you can rely on, that you know is going to help you through that particular difficulty.
Thank you everyone for sharing.
That's been really helpful.
[On-screen slide: 'Examples of Primary Interventions']
So let's have a look at the next slide.
So, primary interventions, which are the ones that you look at at that sort of the
work-related factors level, can really be prevention or promotion focused strategies.
So prevention strategies refer to working, reducing the work-related factors that can influence the workplace stress, so obviously complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and also developing systems of work to address those work-related stress factors.
And then promotion strategies can help build positive organizational culture, so they're your things like doing staff wellbeing activities maybe meditations before your meetings, having social gatherings and then positive leadership and communication can really promote a positive work environment.
Taking a strength-based approach, you know, finding out what your employees' strengths are, you know, engaging with their strengths, finding what's purposeful and meaningful for them at work can be make a massive difference to the wellbeing of staff, and also addressing those wellbeing elements across the team.
And it's really great to get your employees' feedback on how they experience work too, because sometimes, we can have blind spots in our leadership too, and not actually see things, and by getting their feedback, you're really taking that collaborative leadership approach, which can make a lot of difference.
[On-screen slide: 'Our role in change']
So as leaders, the key to influencing and creating change in your workplace wellbeing and culture is really dependent on your wellbeing behaviours, as well as your team.
So we've explored and identified the OHS psychosocial hazards.
We've had a good understanding of mental health and wellbeing challenges that have been perpetuated by the pandemic.
We've also covered how the wellbeing elements can help you and your employees flourish at the individual level and improve your teamwork.
And you now have the knowledge of the work-related stress factors and what interventions can help you manage some of them to reduce those psychosocial hazards and increase the organizational wellbeing.
Everyone involved in an early learning childhood organization has a role in ensuring the service's operations are safe and without risk to mental health and wellbeing.
And as leaders, you do have that responsibility as defined in OHS Act 2004.
So continuing to check in with your own mental health every day, and that of your teams, can ensure that you're talking about it, you're addressing it, and you're able to gauge where your team's at.
And then also continuing to develop strategies and higher level plans to have potential solutions for managing some of the work-related factors that we've talked about today and mitigating the OHS psychosocial risks and reviewing your COVIDSafe Plan ensures that you have all the right plans in place.
And also some external support and services for referral when you don't know what to do.
And you might like to reflect a little bit on the wellbeing elements, from both that individual leadership wellbeing and organization wellbeing perspective and check in how you're tracking with that.
[On-screen slide: 'Next steps']
So here's some great resources that we encourage you to put into practice and get access to.
So you can download the Smiling Mind app to your phone, and I believe you'll be sent a code that will allow you to access the workplace program for the leaders.
And everyone has access to the meditations in the app.
There's some great little programs in there too, just for wellbeing, for personal wellbeing for adults.
And you can also do the "30 Day Challenge" for your team wellbeing on the app in the workplace program, and so you might like to even download it to your, if you have an iPad, for example, at work, you might like to download it to that so that you can do that challenge or take, even if you have it on your own phone, take it to work and do that challenge with everyone at work.
It's a great, I've had some great feedback from that from workplaces where everyone sort of gets involved together and makes it a lot of fun.
So continue to develop your organizational wellbeing strategy and plan using that workload toolkit.
Get in there and create a profile and explore some of the great activities they have in there to even further develop some of the things that you've taken note of today.
Staying up to date with your OHS management obligations, and plans and including that COVID-19 plan that you need to have.
And we'll follow up this workshop by emailing you all of these links and resources to help manage mental health and wellbeing and reducing the risks and your responsibilities as well under the OHS Act.
So I'm just going to post, I will post some of these links in the chat as well, just so that you've all got them, and then you will also get an email with those.
So this is a free app where you are allowed to share with all our services.
So yeah, the Smiling Mind app is free, and everyone can download that, and download that to your personal smartphone, or if you have an iPad at work, and all the leaders from today will be posted a code that will allow you to access the workplace part of the app, which is a subscription-based part of the app.
I'll just post those links up in.
Just bear with me.
There is someone, Natalie's just said she likes the idea of doing the challenge.
Yeah, I think that can be a lot of fun.
I'm just seeing, and for some reason, it's not now, it won't let me post those links.
Okay, so the, I can't actually post those links in the chat for some reason, but they will be sent out to
you via an email follow up, so you'll get all of the information that I've talked about today and you can get started on your meditation practice.
You know, straight away you can download the app today.
It's just in the app store.
Looking up Smiling Mind app, you'll see it there and get started.
And that's a really, it's got a lot of great tips.
We're constantly updating with new resources and, yeah.
So if anyone has any questions, I've actually finished a little bit earlier, which is nice, but I'm happy to answer, ask, answer any questions.
If you have any questions about any of the content from today, I can take a few questions.
Just pop them in the chat and I'll get to a few of them.
And you may like to share perhaps a takeaway from today, something that you think you might like
to do a little bit more work on or a bit more research.
(mumbles) just said she uses a Smiling Mind app personally with the children at kinder.
Well, that's great.
Children really, really love the Smiling Mind app, young children.
Have you got any advice how to support educators who work in isolation in family daycare?
So I would just recommend that connection piece, just checking in with them, checking in with them and just creating the space to actually listen and have conversations and just making the time to just sort of hear them and show them that you're thinking about them and that you're caring about how they're going, and that can really make a massive difference to when you're in isolation.
It's just about having that connection to someone, as we all know from being in lockdown.
Can we see the wellbeing and performance equation slide again?
[On-screen slide: 'The wellbeing and performance equation']
How to support staff wellbeing if they don't want to be involved?
That's a really good question.
So you, whenever you're implementing any kind of wellbeing or change management, kind of, process in an organization, you'll always come up against resistance, so that's a really good time to sort of self-reflect on your own, the way you respond to resistance, because sometimes, the way we respond to it can actually perpetuate the resistance.
With things like mindfulness, people really need to be autonomous about their choice to come on board with it or not, so I wouldn't be forcing it as such, but I always like to say, sort of, coming from a compassionate approach, trying to understand what the resistance is about, perhaps maybe delving a little bit deeper to find out, reminding them that when they come to work, they're in a community environment, they're responsible for creating a safe place for everyone, and that they're part of that, and that's part of the expectation, I guess, of being involved, but yeah, really taking that compassionate approach to try and understand a little bit what might be going on for why they don't want to be involved and then perhaps asking them, you know, what, would they like to be involved in?
And perhaps they have other ideas about what might be useful for them in terms of wellbeing.
Erin said, probably check-in program for the team.
I like the idea of everyday chat for how we're feeling each day, having chats and using the Smiling Mind app.
Jen says I've been running a wellbeing program for the educators on top of being an assistant kinder teacher, which is a lot of work.
Do you think monthly would be still okay?
And I would even say probably fortnightly or monthly would be fine.
You know, it's about just having something that's consistent.
If you're doing it weekly, you could also invite someone to share the load with you and it could be about creating a little group that runs.
- (mumbles) Renee can you just put yourself on mute?
- [Woman 2] (mumbles) and they have a lot of good time together.
So just, I think trying to run something on your own can be very difficult, so if you do have other people that are interested, getting people, other people on board as well can be a great way to sort of keep the work going, but not have to do all of it yourself.
Any examples of what is in the 30 Day Challenge? I don't have any examples on me, but I do know that they're quite simple little challenges, and I think you're emailed like one activity a day to do, and they're not really demanding, there's not too much content to look at, but it's just a nice little simple activity that increases your wellbeing, and because you're doing it consistently for 30 days, it really makes a big difference.
That's the feedback I've heard.
So my feed has dropped in and out.
Is it possible to get a copy of the full transcript?
We'll be sending out a copy of that, of the recording.
How to support staff that have high anxiety?
So I would be a bit curious about finding out if they do have medical support or support with a counsellor or a doctor, if they have high anxiety, and then just, within the workplace, I guess, doing what you can to support them in terms of helping them feel grounded, noticing when they're feeling a little bit too anxious, how to sort of come back from that edge.
Sometimes scaling anxiety like, oh, I'm a about a ten today, and I really need to step away and just, you know, regulate my nervous system a little bit can be really helpful.
Just, you know, having that kind of awareness around where your performance, I guess, begins to drop off, and so that you can maintain safety in the workplace, I think, is really important.
And if you have any sort of struggles with that, it's always good to get extra support or get help from someone externally with that sort of thing.
So Nicole said, I really liked the statement about how, if we want to lead well, we first need to look after ourselves.
I feel I do a fairly good job of this, but perhaps I need to make it more visible and role model to the team.
I also want to delve deep into what everyone else sees as their purpose and contribution to the team.
That's a really great idea.
And I think that modelling can make such a difference because, yeah, it's that observational learning and that I say, when they say, the leader doing these things and doing these activities visibly, it kind of gives everyone else permission to do it too, 'cause as well, sometimes there's a bit of guilt around self care and taking that time to actually sort of look after yourself, so when the leader models it, everyone sort of feels like, oh, this is really valued, it's really important.
Fiona says a pit stop is a quick call checking specifically on their wellbeing.
This is for family daycare, but could still be implemented in LDC with a quick chat.
Yeah, those quick check-ins every day, they're just, they're really valuable, and they just keep that thread of connection going.
So role modelling in a personal way, too.
What do you do if a team member who is always cynical and negative impacts others in what decisions they make in regards to mental health and wellbeing exercises?
So I would recommend that you try not to be too reactive to it, perhaps having that chat to them about it and asking them what the solution might look like to them, so you're putting the ball in their court and you're asking them to sort of participate by coming up with what their own solution might look like.
Sometimes, it's really hard if, you know, if someone's just not willing and they're really resistant, it might be, something else is going on, and again, bringing that compassion piece, because you might need to just delve a little bit deeper and there might be something else going on that they need support with, and you want to get to the bottom of that, if you can.
Friday check-ins to describe them like pit stops.
It's a really good analogy thinking of the Grand Prix.
In regards to EAP, is that four hours per, employee per year?
It can be extended if one staff.
Happens to need more support or it can be combined.
My understanding is it's four sessions, I'm pretty sure, but I think you will be emailed
information about that too.
So we introduced tapping to our team, a technique which helps with emotional and physical pain.
(sighs) All team members thought it was very useful and one of the ECT's have incorporated it into their classroom daily practice.
Yeah, that can be really helpful.
We like to go for walks at lunchtime.
Great idea, getting out into nature.
Bringing a flowers to the staff room.
And feeling positive and fresh for a walk.
Some other people have been doing EFT with staff.
So that's great.
There's lots of fantastic ideas there shared with the group.
So are there any last questions before we finish up today?
I'll just move the slides back to the last.
[On-screen slide: 'Next steps']
And, of course, chocolates in the staff room definitely go a long way.
You'll have to Google tapping, but it can be, I think, it's a really good, it's a good technique for regulating and bringing the, bringing your attention into the body and just settling the nervous system, is my understanding of tapping.
It's used in psychology now, though, so there is supported evidence for it as well, so...
[On-screen slide: 'Thank you']
Okay, so we'll finish up about 10 minutes early, which is a great finish for the day, and I wanted to thank you all for participating and sharing so many great ideas and strategies for improving mental health and wellbeing for yourselves, for your teams, and for your organization as a whole.
And I hope you all go away feeling inspired, and so that you've got some things that you can put into practice in the workplace, and so that it's a really practical workshop.
So, have a look out for the wellbeing, that's good, sorry for the email, regarding all the mental health and wellbeing strategies and the Smiling Mind code for the app and the WorkWell portal and jump on and do those activities when you get a chance.
So thank you very much and take care, everyone, and I wish you all a very long, restful summer holiday.
I hope you get the chance to get away and have a rest.
Thank you, everyone.