Case Study: Supporting the Emotional Wellbeing of SkyCity Staff

SkyCity’s Health and Safety team performed exceptionally while safeguarding the physical and emotional wellbeing of its staff during the events of last month’s fire. TriEx was proud to support them through the first response phase, with two of our Christchurch-based team members going above and beyond to provide additional support and expertise.

SkyCity contacted our team the day the fire began with a request for us to send support. As luck would have it, Donevon Viljoen was already in Auckland with plans to teach a first aid course that day. Fellow First Aid InstructorRick Eisenhart joined him shortly after, boarding a plane from Christchurch within hours to land in Auckland that evening.

Donevon and Rick’s vast experience in first aid and psychological first aid training proved invaluable during this time – as did their backgrounds; with Donevon having worked as a Paramedic in South Africa, and Rick having 35+ years’ of fire fighting experience both in New Zealand and abroad. The pair worked tirelessly over five busy days (and nights!), with a key focus on providing emotional support and techniques to relieve anxiety and stress to the hundreds of SkyCity staff onsite.

“The key thing for us was to touch base with the staff and talk to them about how they were doing,” said Rick, who described SkyCity’s response in dealing with the incident as “absolutely fabulous”.

Donevon agreed that the efficient management of the response efforts – and SkyCity’s transparency and willingness to provide TriEx with all-areas access – ensured the best possible outcomes for staff onsite.

“As soon as we arrived onsite, we met with Peter Hayes (Group GM Health and Safety SkyCity) who was running the health and safety response for the precinct. 

“We were briefed about what SkyCity’s response was and what was expected of us, and then Rick and I began the task of briefing staff returning to the precinct about the measures being taken to ensure their safety and wellbeing. A significant part of this was talking them through the kinds of emotional responses they could expect re-entering an evacuated area.”

Kitted out in hi-vis gear, which is ordinarily not allowed on casino premises, Rick and Donevon made themselves visible and available to all SkyCity staff across all different shift patterns, including security, dealers, cleaning staff, kitchen staff and reception.

“After walking through the entire facility and being briefed by one of New Zealand’s leading Occupational Hygienists, Derek Miller, we were able to reassure staff that no particulates had been found in any of the tests conducted, and that the site was safe,” said Rick.

“It was really important to acknowledge that it was completely normal for them not to be feeling right, and encourage them to talk about their thoughts and concerns, and really listen to them. Sometimes we’d break the ice with a funny handshake, and that injection of humour was just what some of the staff needed to feel a bit more relaxed.

“We started with a briefing on how they would feel being back onsite, and then we’d continue to touch base with staff throughout the casino each day. We spent entire days walking around the site and just talking with people, and walking them through different techniques to relieve stress and anxiety. We’d circle back past employees later in the day and see them practicing the techniques we’d shown them, so it was really cool to see them putting that into action.”

Rick and Donevon understood the importance of looking after their own wellbeing throughout the course of the 120-hour fortnight – making it a priority to walk around outside and catch up for a debrief at the end of each day.

“It was a real team effort,” said Rick. “Anatoly, who is also a First Aid Instructor at TriEx, was supposed to be on leave. He changed his schedule to fill the gaps our absence at training courses left, which we really appreciated.

“TriEx management blocked out a day for us after our return to Christchurch, so the entire team was really supportive.”

All of us at TriEx would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Rick and Donevon for their incredible effort in support of SkyCity’s health and safety team and SkyCity staff. Your care, compassion and wisdom is an amazing resource for our clients!

Seasonal Stress Busting Tips

Christmas is widely regarded as the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a time when stress levels soar. There’s often personal pressure to create the picture-perfect holiday, added financial strain and even increased family conflict – not to mention more stress at work thanks to holiday-shortened deadlines, anxious clients and customers, and frenzied end-of-year workloads.

Feeling overwhelmed by an increased To Do list, disappointed by unrealistic expectations and worried about money are some of the chief symptoms of the holiday blues – and with some retailers promoting the season as early as October, fatigue can begin to set in even earlier.

Most of us are aware of the adverse effects that stress can have on our emotional and physical wellbeing. In fact, studies have shown a correlation in the increased occurrence of heart attacks during the festive season, which may be due to increased stress, combined with heavy alcohol consumption and a fattier-than-usual diet.

Whether you’re looking for ideas to reduce your own holiday stress levels, or to help get your workers through the added pressure of the festive season, we’ve put together some top tips to help stop silly season stress in its tracks.

At Home: Be Mindful of Finances 

Financial strain is one of the leading causes of stress during the holiday season – but an increasing number of families are bucking this trend by focusing on spending less, and putting their focus on time together over gifts, extravagant decorations, and belly-boggling feasts. Something everyone can do to limit financial stress is set a budget, and making an effort to manage impulse spending. 

At Work: Go for a Walk

Getting away from your desk and going to a brisk walk is a good idea year round – but it’s especially important in the lead-up to Christmas, when stress-levels and workplace pressures are higher. Get away from your desk and take a walk around the block on your break. Exercise of any kind produces endorphins, and even a short stroll has been shown to reboot the brain in such a way that it reduces its response to stress.

At Home and At Work: Avoid Overindulging

‘Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry, and we can feel surrounded by extravagant foods and drinks at this time of year! Workmates bring Christmas cookies in to share and family members drop in for pre-Christmas drinks… and while all that merrymaking can seem like a nice treat in the short-term, those added glasses of wine and sugary treats can actually work against you by increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Don’t avoid a indulging altogether – just be treat-wise and stay mindful of portion sizes.

At Home: Kids’ Expectations

Managing the expectations of children at this time of year is never easy – particularly when it seems they’re surrounded by festive hype. Remind children that Christmas is about being together, and that they won’t receive everything on their wishlist to Santa. 

At Work: Prioritise Your To Do List

Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year in New Zealand – and it comes at rather an inconvenient time, being so close to end of year deadlines! Many workers spend December in a frenzy, attempting to complete reports and projects that have been left on the back burner… all the while aware that not everything is going to be marked as complete.

This year, prioritise your workload – deciding which tasks absolutely MUST be done before Santa’s sleigh bells ring, and which less urgent jobs can be dealt with in January, if need be. Talk through your workload, timelines and suggested priorities with your boss or manager so ensure you’re both on the same page, and to give them a chance to re-delegate as needed.

At Home and At Work: Delegate!

Workload and stress are clearly linked, and regular day-to-day demands (cooking, paid work, school runs) don’t stop just because Christmas is fast approaching. If anything – because workplaces and schools shut down over the break– those demands can actually increase, with seasonal tasks such as gift buying and decorating heaped on top.

Trying to achieve everything alone during the holidays can take its toll on your mind and body, so be sure to delegate at home and at work. Share out silly season tasks such as grocery shopping with other family members, or make decorating the tree a fun, shared event rather than a chore. At work, ask for help when you need it! Colleagues and co-workers with lighter workloads will be more than happy to pitch in and lend a hand.

At Home: Sleep

Research shows few adults get the recommended 8-hours of sleep each night, but being well-rested is particularly important during times of increased stress! If there’s just one thing you take away from these tips on managing stress, let this one be it. A lack of sleep affects your mood, diet and quality of work, so don’t stay up all night finishing last-minute reports at home, or wrapping presents. 

At Work: Ditch Secret Santa

Secret Santa is great in theory… but in reality, many workers feel they simply don’t have the time or resources to complete all their usual holiday-related tasks – let alone throw gift purchasing for someone they may not know all that well into the mix! Surveys have shown that Secret Santa shopping can add to feelings of anxiety among employees, because it’s just one more personal task to do, and it can be hard finding a ‘thoughtful’ and clever gift within a $5, $10 or $20 budget. If Secret Santa is a tradition in your workplace, consider gifting staff an hour off during the workweek to shop. 

At Home and At Work: Have Fun!

They say laughter is the best medicine, and for good reason. Laughter lightens your mood, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, boosts circulation, releases endorphins, and – here’s the kicker – lessens the physical symptoms associated with stress. That all means savouring positive experiences, and giving yourself permission to have a little fun at home and at work, will help you get through those more stressful situations this festive season. 

Have 5-minutes before your next meeting starts? Find a Christmas meme and email it to your team. Take a couple of hours this weekend to sit down with your loved ones– or during some much-needed YOU time – and watch a Christmas movie. Pop a Christmas playlist on at work, or bake some festive cookies at home. The point is to decompress and get your to-do list off your mind for 5-minutes.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing

Endorsed by the World Federation for Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off in New Zealand on September 23 – and this year is all about encouraging Kiwis to explore their way to wellbeing (Whāia te ara hauora, Whitiora).

The week is an opportunity for you and your team to explore the experiences, actions, relationships and surroundings that make you feel good and uplift your wellbeing – in essence, discovering the things that make you feel good, individually and as a team, and doing more of them! 

What are the Five Ways to Wellbeing?

In 2008 the British government contracted the New Economics Foundation to come up with a set of actions that improve personal wellbeing. 

The idea was to develop a 5+ a day style set of principals for wellbeing that were evidence-based and accessible to everyone. The New Economics Foundation reviewed studies from around the world and conducted an enormous number of interviews – resulting in a report that identified five key actions, which, if done regularly, were scientifically proven to enhance wellbeing.

These five key actions or themes have been adopted around the world as the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Connect | Me Whakawhanaunga
The first principle is based on evidence that people are stronger when they pull together and build meaningful connections with others.

Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day. 

Be Active | Me kori tonu
The second principle focuses on the proven physiological and psychological effects of being active.

Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness. 

Take Notice | Me aro tonu
The third principle relates to mindfulness, and the importance of being present.

Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. 

Keep Learning | Me ako tonu
The fourth principle is about the proven benefits of challenging oneself and experiencing new things.

Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun. 

Give | Tukua
The fifth and final principle is based on research linking the act of giving with physical and health benefits, as well as emotional benefits such as ‘helper’s high’.

Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

How Ways to Wellbeing can Benefit Your Business

Mental wellbeing is one of your organisation’s most valuable business assets, and it’s been proven that workplaces where mental health is prioritised have better engagement, reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, greater morale and higher job satisfaction among staff.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are proven to help people find balance, build resilience and boost mental health and wellbeing – and can support workplaces to meet their health and safety obligations to manage risks to mental health and wellbeing. 

The Ways to Wellbeing at Work

Here are some simple ideas you can implement in your workplace, utilising the Five Ways to Wellbeing to support your staff, boost morale, and increase productivity.

Encourage Connection
Support your team members to build meaningful relationships at work. This could include:

  1. Setting up a staff social club where team members organise a quarterly outing 
  2. Organising shared lunches at work
  3. Hosting weekly games or competitions in the office
  4. Finishing two-hours earlier one Friday a month for a trip to the bowling alley
  5. Annual team-building trips

Encourage Giving & Generosity
It feels good to give! Supporting your staff and colleagues to give could include:

  1. Participating in national charity events like the SPCA Cupcake Day
  2. Holding an annual food drive, where staff can bring canned goods for donation
  3. Giving staff one paid day off a quarter to volunteer in the local community
  4. Fostering a culture of generosity, where staff give compliments and champion one another
  5. Donating company time to a local charity 

Encourage Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness can be a great way to help your staff find balance. At work, this might look like:

  1. A weekly guided meditation or yoga class
  2. Quiet break spaces, where staff can take a few moments to decompress
  3. An ‘unplug’ policy, where staff are encouraged NOT to check emails on days off
  4. A gratitude wall, where staff share notes on things they’re thankful for
  5. Weekly ‘celebration’ breakfasts, where the team catches up on good news

Encourage Learning
No matter what their role within your business, every employee wants to be challenged and enjoy variety. Your organisation could:

  1. Sponsor professional development courses and continued education
  2. Host a ‘random facts’ brunch each month, where employees share fun trivia
  3. Hold fun peer learning sessions, where employees lead a workshop on a project, hobby or passion
  4. Set up a mini library in the break room, stocked with books staff can borrow
  5. Partner with a local dance, cooking or sewing school, and offer classes free to staff

Encourage Movement
Being active isn’t just good for your employees’ physical health – it has also been proven to increase their mental and emotional wellbeing. Your organisation could:

  1. Establish daily walking meetings at the local park
  2. Get together a team for local indoor netball or touch rugby
  3. Eradicate tired office chairs in favour of Swiss balls and standing desks
  4. Set up a phone loop around the building so staff can walk while on calls
  5. Implement a stand and stretch policy, encouraging staff to get out of their chairs and every couple of hours

Looking for ideas to further integrate the Five Ways of Wellbeing into your company’s policies and workplace culture? Check out the Five Ways Toolkit from the Mental Health Foundation and Health Promotion Agency for free resources.

The Journal

The Journal is a free, personalised online programme that is designed to teach you the skills that can help you get through depression.

John Kirwan (JK) and mental health experts will take you through a series of online lessons. These include how to stay positive, how to create lifestyle changes that improve mental health and 3 steps to problem solving.

Anyone can sign up for this programme and benefit from it. You begin with a depression self-test which is can also be done as a standalone test. The results will link you to The Journal where you can track your changes over time. 

Read more about The Journal on their website here.  

Positive Communication

Positive communication is the cornerstone of creating a mentally health workplace. This is communication that is based on respect and builds trust and collaboration. 

The Mental Health Foundation has created a range of Working Well resources that help your workplace prioritise mental health and ensure employees wellbeing is improved – resulting in a happier team and higher job satisfaction. 

Leaders, managers and teams can use the communication resources to help reflect on current approaches and to build a culture of positive communication.

The range of resources available includes: 
Avoiding a culture of silence
Reframing failures as opportunities 
Communicating so people feel safe to speak up.

Jump on over to the Mental Health Foundations website to download all these resources and start communicating positively with your teams today.

Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that can lead to physical or psychological harm.

Repeated behaviour is persistent and can involve a range of actions over time. Unreasonable behaviour means actions that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would see as unreasonable. It includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person. Bullying may also include harassment, discrimination or violence.Creating a mentally healthy workplace is about creating a safe, supportive and strong workplace culture where bullying cannot thrive.

The business or undertaking must effectively deal with workplace bullying however everyone at work has a role to play. 

To help you identify if bullying is going on at your workplace WorkSafe has great information on their website here. If you do not have policies in place there is a great template available for you to work from to create one. 

The Mental Health Foundation has a great range of resources available as part of their Working Well suite or resources. This includes fact sheets on what bullying looks like, how to facilitate team discussions or how to get help. View these resources here

One of the components within our Psychological First Aid course is the topic of bullying. To learn more about our Psychological First Aid course, click here

May 17 – Pink Shirt Day

This coming Friday (May 17) is Pink Shirt Day.

Pink Shirt Day is led by the Mental Health Foundation and is about working together to stop bullying. It is about celebrating diversity and promoting positive social relationships. 

Everybody should feel safe, valued and respected no matter their age, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability or culture.

Make sure your workplace gets involved on Friday. TriEx and Gallagher Bassett will be dressing in pink and are celebrating with a shared lunch this Friday. The Pink Shirt Day website has resources, and content you can use at your workplace — just visit their website here

Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!

It’s Okay Not To Be Okay

But what’s not okay is to not to talk to someone. The events in Christchurch last month have affected people in many different ways. “New Zealanders can choose to re inflate their “protective bubbles” as soon as possible after the Christchurch shootings or keep them deflated and “see the world as it really is” — disaster mental health expert Dr Sarb Johal. 

“It will take courage to choose to live in deflated bubbles for longer. But by doing so, Kiwis may be better able to rebuild trust and reshape society.” You can read Dr Sarb Johals full blog post here

After the recent events in Christchurch our teams have been supported by onsite EAP professionals, and employees took this opportunity to talk to someone about how they were feeling. If your business has this available we urge you to promote it within your workplace. 

Our mental health awareness training (Psychological First Aid) has been designed to support the breaking down of the stigmas around mental health, to increase our knowledge and understanding of mental health as a spectrum and to be more accepting and tolerant towards those who might be faced with concerns around their own mental health.

It is developed to also to enable the impact of stress on an individual, the importance of resilience and the impact that has in the workplace. In order for us to break down the stigma around mental health the model has to facilitate sensitivity, openness and honesty in talking and sharing. 

To learn more about our psychological first aid you can contact our team on 0800 487 439 or email enquiries@triex.co.nz

Managing Workplace Stress

Resources

The Mental Health Foundation is calling for 2019 to be the year that workplace stress is taken seriously. Results of a survey they carried out show that high workloads, poor work/life balance and stressful work are the top three causes of poor mental health at work. 

Mental Health Foundation chief Executive Shaun Robinson says “How we feel at work impacts not just our ability to work well, but our relationships with our colleagues, whānau, friends and communities. When our mental health is impacted by stress at work, the effects ripple out into our home and whānau lives and prevent us from flourishing.”

They have developed a free resource Minimising and managing work place stress which is designed to help workplaces tackle stress head-on and forms part of their Working Well resources. It is designed to support understanding around workplace stress, including how work impacts stress, how stress impacts individuals and what works to minimise and manage stress.

Good mental health leads to better engagement, reduced absenteeism and higher productivity, while also improving wellbeing, morale and job satisfaction. 

The resources are all available for free from the Mental Health Foundation here. 

How’s your mate? Be aware of mental health this Men’s Health Month

June is Men’s Health Month. If there’s ever a time as a male to think about your personal health, now is the time to do it. This month we have been discussing men’s health issues and what you can do to improve.

So far we’ve covered three topics for Men’s Health Month:

For our final Men’s Health Month post, we want to talk about Mental Health.

Read more →