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Leading through uncertain times – how to be a leader through the COVID-19 response.

Leading through uncertain times – how to be a leader through the COVID-19 response.

How can leaders make things feel as normal as possible to support ‘business as usual’ when we’re certainly not in a ‘business as usual’ environment?

 

So here we are at the beginning of a seismic disruption to workplaces all around the world with the COVID-19 response. Organisations are shifting the way they’re doing businesses, some are closing temporarily, others are mandating their people to work from home, and some are doing both.

This is a challenge for leaders. How can leaders make things feel as normal as possible to support ‘business as usual’ when we’re certainly not in a ‘business as usual’ environment?

The US military coined the acronym ‘VUCA’ to describe times of rapid and unpredictable change that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. VUCA can be used to explore the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 landscape and can double as a simple catch all summary for “Everything is going completely NUTS out there!”

It can also serve as a very useful frame for how leaders should and should not respond at this time as leaders can often display the VUCA characteristics in their own leadership style. This is even more detrimental in the current landscape.

Mertz (2014) gives leaders some tips on leading through VUCA times through the acronym DURT – being Direct, Understandable, Reliable and Trustworthy.

How you can apply this in a COVID-19 response environment :

Be Direct – Give your people the facts. What does the current situation mean for your business and the work your people are doing? How can you do this with kindness and compassion?

Be Understandable – Create a clear context and give clear messaging. Break down messages for your workforce in terms of what your plans mean for them in their role. If you have people in your organisation with English as a second language, or with literacy challenges, make sure your communications are delivered in formats and language that can be understood by them. Consider all communication formats, don’t just rely on email. Try WhatsApp groups, or communicate through video messages for more personalised communication.

Be Reliable – Ensure people can count on you. Workforces are looking at their leaders for direction and reassurance. Do what you said you’d do, or be straight about why the situation has had to change.

Be Trustworthy – No leader, politician or health care professional has a crystal ball to see the future and what the impact of COVID-19 will be. As much as we all crave certainty, acknowledge that situations are changing daily and be straight and compassionate.

Also, leaders need to look out for their wellbeing and that of their people. This can be challenging when we are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 response, not just at work, but at home and in the wider community. So, don’t forget to be kind to yourself, and others.

REFERENCES:

VUCA Times Call for DURT Leaders

https://www.thindifference.com/2014/05/vuca-times-call-durt-leaders/

Additional information for employers

Here’s some additional information from Safe Work Australia on when employers can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under workplace health and safety laws.

Safe Work Australia has information about when an employer can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under the model workplace health and safety laws.

More information:

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Which industries have the highest rates of work-related harassment and bullying claims?

Which industries have the highest rates of work-related harassment and bullying claims?

On February 28, 2020, Safe Work Australia released the 2019 ‘Psychosocial health and safety and bullying in Australian workplaces’ annual statement.

Psychosocial health is the physical, mental and social state of a person. The nationally accepted definition of workplace bullying is the ‘repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety’ (Fair Work Act 2009, s.789FD(1).

Workplace bullying occurs when:

  • An individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers at work,
    and
  • The behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

The following behaviours could also be considered as bullying, based on cases heard:

  • Aggressive and intimidating conduct.
  • Belittling or humiliating comments.
  • Victimisation.
  • Spreading malicious rumours.
  • Practical jokes or initiation.
  • Exclusion from work-related events, and
  • Unreasonable work expectations.

Reasonable management action conducted in a reasonable manner does not constitute workplace bullying.

This report presents the statistics of workers compensation claims when the work-related injury or disease resulted from the person experiencing mental stress or being exposed to mentally stressful situations. The report excludes assault cases where the physical injuries were considered more serious than the mental stress involved in the incident.

The mental stress claims data includes a sub-category for work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying. This sub-category is given to claims when the employee was a victim of:

  • Repetitive assault and/or threatened assault by a work colleague or colleagues, or
  • Repetitive verbal harassment, threats, and abuse from a work colleague or colleagues.

This is the fifth annual national statement issued by Safe Work Australia.

Note: Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because Victorian data is not coded to that level of detail.

Key statistics in the report

 

Rates for both mental stress and harassment and/or bullying claims have risen over the last two years but they are less than the peak in 2010–11. Jurisdictional legislation is highly likely to have influenced the scope of claims involving mental stress over the reporting period.
 

Figure 1. Number, time lost, direct cost, frequency rate and incidence rate for mental stress claims, 2016–17

*Victoria only provides data on the top-level category of mental stress claims, so is included in the total but not the breakdown of sub‑categories. As a result, figures for the total mental stress claims may not equal the sum of columns.

**The Other harassment sub-category includes victims of sexual or racial harassment by a person or persons including work colleague/s.

Notes:

  1. The mechanism of incident classification identifies the overall action, exposure or event that best describes the circumstances that resulted in the most serious injury or disease.
  2. In previous statements, the amount of median compensation paid were calculated after excluding ‘zero dollar’ claims. In this report, all serious claims (including ‘zero dollar’ claims) have been included in calculations.

 

 Claims for harassment and/or bullying made by female employees were more than twice as high as the rate of these claims made by males over the three years 2015–16 to 2017–18 combined. Similarly, the rates for claims made by females relating to work pressure and exposure to workplace or occupational violence were more than twice that of similar claims made by males.

 

Figure 2. Frequency rates by sex and mental stress sub-category, 2015–16 to 2017–18p combined

 

Note: Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because its data are not coded to that level of detail.


 Occupations with a high risk of exposure to work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying include:

  • Other miscellaneous and administrative workers*(includes coding clerks, production assistants, proof readers, radio dispatchers & examination supervisors.
  • Other clerical and office support workers group** includes classified advertising clerks, meter readers & parking inspectors.
  • Other miscellaneous labourers.

Figure 3. Top 10 occupations with the highest frequency rates of work-related harassment and/or bullying, 2015–16 to 2017–18 combined.

*** Police in Western Australian are covered by a separate workers’ compensation scheme and not included in the data.

Notes:

  1. Industries are limited to those associated with more than 50 claims.
  2. Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because its data are not coded to that level of detail.

Industry groups with high rates of claims involving work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying include Public order and safety services; Civic, Professional and other interest group services; and Residential care services.

 

4. Top 10 industry groups with the highest frequency rates of work-related harassment and/or bullying, 2015–16 to 2017–18 combined

 

* Police in Western Australian are covered by a separate workers’ compensation scheme and not included in the data.

Notes:

  1. Industries are limited to those associated with more than 50 claims.
  2. Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because its data are not coded to that level of detail.

Want to elevate your leadership capacity?

Safety Dimensions offers accredited and non-accredited leadership training for emerging leaders. Through our training, you’ll learn how to effectively communicate, set clear priorities, build team cohesiveness and implement operational plans and continuous improvement.

Want this program customised for your workplace and industry?
Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

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Key WHS statistics Australia

Key WHS statistics Australia

Safe Work Australia compiles the National Dataset for compensation-based statistics which comprises information on workers’ compensation claims provided by each of the jurisdictional workers’ compensation authorities.

Although 563,600 people experienced a work-related injury or illness in 2017-18, the data in the Safe Work Australia report refers only to the 107,335 serious claims where the compensated injury or disease resulted in one week or more off work.

Why does it take so long to finalise the data?  Figures are updated only once all the appropriate authorities have investigated the deaths and more accurate information becomes available. Only then does Safe Work Australia include the incident in their statistics and publish their final report.

 

Key Findings

  • 144 fatalities nationally
  • 75% of workplace fatalities came from Transport, Postal & Warehousing / Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing / Construction & Mining in 2017-18.
  • 107,335 serious claims resulting in one week or more off work
  • $11,300 median compensation paid per claim

Fatalities By State 2017-18Fatalaties By State 2018

 

Number of fatalities, by gender 2017-18.

 

Number of fatalities, by industry 2017-18.

 

Number of fatalities, by occupation 2017-18.

 

Serious claims overall statistics, 2017–18

Serious claims overall statistics, 2017–18

 

Serious claims by nature of injury disease, 2017–18

Serious claims by nature of injury disease, 2017–18p

 

Serious claims by occupation, 2017–18

Serious claims by occupation, 2017–18p

 

Serious claims by industry, 2017–18

Serious claims by industry 2017–18p

Sources: Safe Work Australia https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/


© Commonwealth of Austr​alia.

Australian Bureau of statistics http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6324.0

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As heat rises, so do safety risks

As heat rises, so do safety risks


With summer fast approaching, it’s time to think about staying safe when you’re working in high temperatures. During hot temperatures, people become susceptible to a range of heat related medical issues, including dehydration, heat rash, heat cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion and even life-threatening heat stroke.

Heat illness occurs when the body cannot sufficiently cool itself. Factors that contribute to this include:

  • temperature
  • humidity
  • amount of air movement
  • radiant temperature of surroundings
  • clothing
  • physical activity (metabolic heat load)

We created a simple, useful first aid guide to heat related illnesses for you to download and keep.

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The link between WHS & your bottom line

The link between WHS & your bottom line

Evidence shows that organisations who invest in health and safety culture have a competitive advantage.

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looked at the financial growth of public companies that scored highly in the Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA) nominations. The CHAA awards recognise the healthiest, safest companies and organisations in North America and aim to raise awareness of best practices in workplace health and safety programs.1

As part of their application for the awards, organisations presented trend data showing a reduction of health risk, health-cost savings, or other impact on the business as a result of their safety, wellness, and health programs as well as their leadership and management culture.

Using this data, researchers took the top 17 performing companies and created stock market investment scenario, analysing the period spanning 2001 to 2014, using a hypothetical investment of $10,000.

The results?

Companies who did well in health and safety performance achieved a 333% return, compared to the stock market (S&P 500 index) return of 105% during the same period.

Even in the lowest-performing scenario, the CHAA companies achieved a 204% return, compared to an S&P return of 105% during the same period.

This research may have also identified an association between companies that focus on health and safety and companies that manage other aspects of their business equally well.

The modelling suggests that organisation that invested significantly in health and safety programs can outperform other companies in the marketplace.


REFERENCE:
Tracking the Market Performance of Companies That Integrate a Culture of Health and Safety: An Assessment of Corporate Health Achievement Award Applicants. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. January 2016 – Volume 58 – Issue 1 – p 3–8 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000638.

Learn More About Our Foundational Safety Leadership Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace, this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs call us on 1300 453 555.

Want to transform your organisation's safety culture?

Download Course OutlinesSafety Dimensions offers accredited and non-accredited leadership training for leaders, safety professionals and employees to support organisations to effectively deal with safety performance challenges.

We can train anywhere in Australia and our programs can be customised for your workplace and industry. Download our program guide.

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