Workplace Wellness Festival (Day 2 of 2)
Workplace wellbeing, health, safety, diversity, inclusion, gender equality, compliance, culture, and belonging. These were the themes of day two at the recent Workplace Wellness Festival (WWF) in Sydney, as guest speakers shared stories, data, and insights about how to evolve organisational strategies to better fit the changing needs of today’s hybrid workforce.
Following on from our recap of day one, some of the highlights of day two included:
Chief People Officer, Engineers Australia
- “During COVID, we asked each of our top 30 leaders to proactively ring three colleagues to check on their safety. From that, we learned three things:
- People appreciated help with setting up a safe work environment at home (e.g. desk, chair, monitor etc.);
- People were longing for social connectivity; and
- We had colleagues working from home in an unsafe environment of domestic and family violence (DFV).”
Senior Director HR, South Pacific, Stryker
- “People first, employees second. Look for people and who they are first. Look for skills and experience second.”
- “Look for what’s right about someone rather than what’s not.”
- “Encourage managers to care.”
- “We introduced a recharge day.”
GM Employee Experience, Tabcorp
- “We tailor our comms and messages for our different employee groups (e.g. office employees versus race track employees).”
- “We did a lot of work to reassure people about their job security because people worrying about job security impacts wellbeing.”
- “We provide overt gender affirmation support.”
- “Aim to create a culture where inclusion and psychosocial safety is key.”
Head of People and Culture, Flight Centre Travel Group
- Pre-COVID, 70 per cent of Flight Centre’s revenue came from international travel.
- COVID-19 and the resultant border lockdowns sent major shockwaves through Flight Centre’s business.
- Of their 10,000 employees, 7,000 were stood down (including 5,000 who were made redundant).
- The company’s guiding principles during this time were: fairness; respect; and compassion. They wanted to allow people to leave the company with dignity.
- Flight Centre created an alumni page.
- 96 per cent of employees who were made redundant joined this alumni page.
- When the company could hire again, they went to their alumni community.
- Almost 900 people have been reemployed from this community.
- “Once a Flighty, always a Flighty.”
- Having been at Flight Centre for 34 years, Allisa took the redundancies hard. She bravely shared her personal struggles through this tough period. Gradually, she learned that to prevent her burnout, she needed compassion for herself before she could continue to compassion to others.
Learning and Organisational Manager, Fletcher Building Australia
- “Two things that we did since COVID started that worked were:
- Leaders role modelling behaviour - creating conscious permission for everyone to switch off (e.g. not sending emails late at night); and
- Encouraging people to create rituals to start and stop work, and to separate work from home as much as possible.”
- “Leaders need to know what suits not just their teams, but the individuals in their teams. Does that person like Chat, phone, email, or meetings? Are they unusually quiet because they’re feeling socially isolated and need extra support?”
Head of Talent and Engagement AU, Edelman
- “Our global president introduced a ‘dusk to dawn’ policy for people to switch off.”
- “Our organisation is ‘on the clock’ all day, for billable hours, but we introduced ‘no meetings Fridays’ and gave permission for our people to clock off every Friday at 4pm.”
VP, People, Culture and Impact, Cape
- “Data is important, but what’s the narrative behind the data? What’s the why?”
- “Help people see what’s in it for them.”
- “Keep it simple.”
Professor Denise Jepsen
Organisational Psychologist, Academic and Researcher, Macquarie University Business School
- “How can managers learn to regulate their emotions in the workplace?”
- “What does compassion mean in the workplace?
- Being aware of what’s going on;
- Appraising it for what it is;
- Being empathetic; and
- Acting on what you learn.”
Chief Talent Officer, Publicis Groupe
- “We’re seeing a battle between price and purpose. As well as a shift in power dynamics. Resignations are just one of the outcomes. We’re witnessing a mass evaluation of priorities.”
- “We changed our language from “employees” to “people”.”
- 55,000 people worldwide.
- 1,500 people in Australia.
- 22 agencies across Australia and New Zealand.
Senior Relationship Manager, Pride in Diversity, ACON
- “If your leader is not inclusive but your team is, it won’t work.”
- “A Diversity Council Australia report showed that a non-inclusive environment has a negative impact on mental health.”
Head of Diversity and Inclusion, MinterEllison
- “Everyone’s on a different stage of their journey. Even if an organisation is sophisticated, don’t assume everyone’s on the train before it leaves the station.”
- “Even if you’ve run education sessions before, there is value in running them again.”
Director and Head of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Belonging, Twitch
with James White
Senior Manager, Global Diversity and Inclusion, Fastly
- “Dignity and respect are crucial for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies.”
- “Dignity and respect violations include microaggressions, lack of access, and lack of opportunity and growth (e.g. overlooking internal candidates and not notifying them of vacancies).”
- “Lead with compassion and treat people with the respect they deserve.”
- “Create learning opportunities. Consider an apprenticeship program. Consider a sponsorship program.”
- “Hold people accountable.”
“If you are not doing three proactive things in the DEI space, you’re not doing enough.”
Chair (Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council) and Partner (Employment and Workplace Relations), Hall & Wilcox
Fay Calderone, recent winner of Employment Partner of the Year at the Lawyers Weekly awards, delivered an excellent presentation about employer risks from: toxic behaviour; the shadow pandemic; and “the great exhaustion”.
“Mental health and wellbeing are the bricks and mortar of your organisation and when they crumble, your organisation crumbles.”
“You lose the best of them and you disengage the rest of them.”
Co-founder, Resilience Against Racism, and CEO, Cultural Intelligence
- “Racism impacts mental health.”
- “People think there is a queue. They say, “We need to fix gender first, then we’ll come back to diversity and racism.” This of course is not true.”
- “An Asian person not speaking up does not mean they have no opinion. It might just mean they have a different understanding of respect.”
- “The real value of diversity is innovation.”
“Not many organisations have a good system in place to handle racism.”
Director, Ngaran Ngaran Cultural Awareness
- “Know the history of this country and don’t treat First Nations people as an afterthought.”
- “As someone who was taken off a settlement and sent to work on a farm as a slave, my grandmother has been waiting 65 years for her wages to be paid.”
- “If you are not First Nations people, you are Second Nations people. We have two universal custodians of our country.”
- “Don’t think you can’t do anything. The one percents all add up to be the change we want to see.”
- “Consider Supply Nation” - a database of verified Australian Indigenous businesses.
“We all need to feel part of something to enjoy life. We all need a sense of belonging.”
Partner, Head of People and Culture, Knight Frank Australia
“To keep us accountable, we became a Work180-endorsed employer.”
International Lawyer, Partner, Littler
- Naomi presented passionately on the topic: How every employer can navigate complex laws to implement women’s health benefits across the globe.
- She shared her very personal story of 10 surgeries, 100 tests, 3 rounds of IVF, 4 lost children, and 3½ months in hospital with a premature baby.
- “Miscarriage has a physical and emotional impact.”
- “By 2030, one-quarter of the world will be in menopause.”
- “You do a huge disservice to female employees by not acknowledging that there are many experiences unique to women.”
“For women, employer benefits can mean the difference between staying or withdrawing from the workforce.”
Want to learn more?
For more information about the Workplace Wellness Festival, we invite you to read our day one recap.
For more information about how Sonder can help you rethink your student and/or employee support, we invite you to contact us here.
Sonder is an Active Care technology company that helps organisations improve the wellbeing of their people so they perform at their best. Our mobile app provides immediate, 24/7 support from a team of safety, medical, and mental health professionals - plus onsite help for time-sensitive scenarios. Accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS), our platform gives leaders the insights they need to act on tomorrow's wellbeing challenges today.