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7 tips for keeping your remote working team safe and engaged

7 tips for keeping your remote working team safe and engaged

What does ‘work’ look like for you and your team in this current situation?

If your team is working remotely or combining work in the office with work from home, there may be a lack of certainty about when we may all be able to return to work as we knew it, and when we do, what will it be like? Even over conferencing platforms like Zoom, Teams or WebEx, chances are the face-to-face natural social interactions you’d share in the workplace have dramatically diminished over the past year.

As a leader, you also worry about looking after your peoples’ wellbeing, output and results while dealing with your own situation. We all have different levels of resilience, different needs for social interaction, different needs for the amount of feedback and interaction with our leaders.

The effect can be, to say the least, psychologically stressful on everyone.

Yet work needs to go on. How do you do this?

Firstly as a leader, identify what your needs are at this time.
How does being naturally introverted or extroverted impact you in this situation and under what conditions do you do your best work? Are you missing the hum of the office or are you happy working squirrelled away from your remote location?

These factors will likely influence your leadership response and accessibility at this time.

What we do know, however, is that under our obligations under the WHS/OHS Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice such as Communication and Consultation and Risk Management – leaders in organisations need to demonstrate Duty of Care.

Here are 7 tips for keeping your people safe and engaged while working remotely

1.Ensure your people are safe wherever they are working
Employers’ duties extend to workers who work from home or remotely, and must take steps to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers.  Comcare has developed a Working From Home Checklist for employers and workers with guidance and measures on how they can meet their respective work health and safety obligations.

Download the Working From Home Checklist here >>.

2. Give people space
Acknowledge that work is different in many aspects when working remotely. This is the time to assess people on their output, not the clock, and short of installing surveillance cameras in everyone’s home, leaders have to trust people. A study from the Society for Human Resource Management found 77% of workers reported greater productivity while working offsite; 30% said they accomplished more in less time and 24 % said they accomplished more in the same amount of time.

Encourage your people to use outdoor spaces where possible when they take breaks from their computer and try to incorporate some exercise or other activity as part of their working day.

Trust people to do the right things, even though their days might be a mash-up of stop-start-stop-start-stop-stop-start, most people are bending over backwards to do a great job from home.

3.Create community – The Virtual Water Cooler
Create an open room in an online meeting tool like Zoom, WebEX, Skype or Microsoft Teams, and give your team the meeting code so they can join from wherever they are.
Set a time in the workday that works for everyone, say a morning coffee break, afternoon tea or end of the week “wine time” (or “whine time”) where people drop into the online meeting and can see each other and talk about non-work related things. Being able to see one another makes a difference. This is not a work meeting, it’s an essential mental health break.

4. Communicate and tell it straight
Create a weekly “News from the Trenches” via email, video or Facebook live (to a private group of your people, if it’s appropriate for your workplace) –– that outlines how the organisation is going – any initiatives, new clients/opportunities – feedback from clients and customers – how many sales made etc. Be straight, but positive where you can. Anything that reinforces that the business is making headway. A lot of people are terrified about losing their jobs or businesses closing down for good. If you can, reassure them of the steps the business is taking, what government assistance your business is utilising to keep them employed and the business operating, as well as future plans. Knowing is better than the fear of the unknown.

5. Reach out personally
As a leader, call your people regularly and ask “How are you going?”, “What can I/the business do to support you?”, “Do you have the resources to do your job remotely?” and check-in on their wellbeing. Keep them up to date with anything impacting their specific role or responsibilities and ask for ways that you can collaborate to further improve the remote working scenario.
If someone is struggling who is usually a great performer, reach out and ask them how they’re doing and seek to understand where they are at – is it a resourcing issue? The business landscape? Are the complexities of their specific role challenging to do remotely? Is it stress from the dynamics at home? Complete exhaustion? The key is to also listen and acknowledge rather than just talking.

6. Acknowledge people
Most team members thrive on positive feedback, acknowledge them for what they’ve done well either publically or personally and let them know their hard work under the current working conditions hasn’t gone unnoticed.

7. Turn fears into ideas – innovate
While some industries and business are being disrupted and decimated by the pandemic response, others are innovating their way to survival. Ask your team if they see any opportunities to innovate – has the current situation created any opportunities to offer new products, in new ways into new channels or to innovate with processes? Ask if people have any suggestions or can see any new opportunities – how can you turn fears into ideas? Your people are some of the best resources you’ll have for coming up with business innovation and this may be a new opportunity to thrive, both as a business and as an engaged remote team.

Research source: Society for Human Resource Management 
https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/teleworkers-more-productive-even-when-sick.aspx


Want to train your staff at home or remotely?
LDN Interactive (LDN-i) – helping organisations train and develop staff while isolated

Leadership Dimensions, Safety Dimensions and Workplace Dimensions programs are now available through a facilitator-led, real-time, interactive training environment – via computer.

We don’t offer pre-recorded online programs – just the same experience of our face-to-face programs, delivered differently.

Find out more >>

Contemporary, online, live and interactive training for your teams (LDN-i)

Contemporary, online, live and interactive training for your teams (LDN-i)

The world has changed and so has the way we all do business. Many organisations are now operating with wider geographically-dispersed teams, or have moved to more flexible work arrangements where their workforces are working remotely or under a hybrid model of remote + office.  Bringing people together in a central location for training or meetings may now have some additional expenses. This is where LDN can help. Our belief has always been that location should not be a barrier to receiving an engaging, excellent high-quality education.

Traditionally online training involves video or document-based tuition, is often self-paced and leaves the participant with no opportunity to ask questions or become engaged through involvement and, more importantly, does not flex to individuals’ different learning styles.

Our live and interactive, facilitator-led training (LDN-i) brings your teams together utilising the most up-to-date video conferencing software (Teams/Zoom).

All programs are delivered in real-time, by our highly skilled and engaging facilitators and utilises the full range of adult learning tools including small group discussions (breakout rooms), online polls, role-playing, quizzes and individual and group activities.  Our programs are accessed by learners through their own laptop, computer or iPad and full support is provided to ensure set up and attendance is easy, even for those who do not often use computers.

LDN-i delivery mode enables clients and their teams to capitalise on the convenience, cost-effectiveness and flexibility of upskilling and training from wherever they are located.

We can design and develop programs for your team or customise any of our proven safety or leadership programs.

To view our existing programs click here>>

 


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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,
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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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We work everyday with large companies with diverse groups of learners and talk a lot about what makes good adult learning. How do you build and facilitate really great learning experiences?

It’s common to have group of learners in our training who work on the frontline who are technically proficient and may have left formal schooling in their mid-teens. They know their jobs well and are considered functional experts, but when they come into a training environment, there are many reasons they may not want to take part.

Firstly, context. They don’t see the value of the training they’ve been asked to attend, especially if it’s not a required technical license. Organisations need to explain to learners why the organisation is undertaking the training, what the training seeks to achieve, why it’s important to have everyone in the organisation on the same page and most importantly give learners the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me – what will that leaner take away that will enrich them?

Coming into a learning environment with pre-conceived ideas of how the training is going to go is not something restricted to frontline workers – we see barriers to coming to the training room in many all levels.

Tertiary educated people often come to training with the idea that everything they needed to know for the work environment was covered in their formal education. Again, they may lack understanding of the context for the training. Alternatively, some are concerned that their shortfalls might be shown up in a certain way during the learning experience. The latter is termed ‘imposter syndrome’ – the fear of being exposed that ´maybe I’m not as brilliant as everyone thinks I am, and I’m going to be found out any second!

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As workers, we often work in areas we are comfortable and can exhibit competence and tend to avoid areas we feel exposed for what we don’t know. However the learning environment is different – it’s there to show where there are gaps in knowledge.

So how do good trainers address this?

When we start our training we undertake a learner comfort ‘piece’.  A trainer or facilitator’s responsibility is not only about transferring learning but about building learning comfort for learners.

The learning environment should challenge us to take different perspectives and a great trainer is an expert at creating an environment where people feel safe going beyond their comfort zone. We try to make our training an open space for learners to be okay to talk about it, but often it takes a lot for the learner to do that until we build trust with each other, which is one of our team of trainers strengths.

All our trainers spend the first part of any program engaging all learners in different ways, identifying learner’s styles and addressing any concerns in the room. Our trainers have a lot of experience, great content and interesting ways of connecting with learners across different audiences.

Another aspect that can’t be underestimated is the sense of community that builds when training groups come together and barriers come down as the training progresses. This can be a powerful experience both when groups are cross functional or are teams that work together in the same role every day. The ability of trainers to present ideas, ask curious questions and create a space for learners to explore and question themselves and each other can create a deep understanding and connection between colleagues that can drive change in organisations.

When talking to prospective clients, we are always very clear on our strength in engaging the learners – how well we deliver on effective adult learning.
Great program content is nothing if it’s not delivered well – our trainers are experts at being able to make things very practical, relevant and put the learner front of mind, which also means our trainers have the skills to be able to adapt their approach to what’s happening in the moment.

Could your internal trainers use these skills?

Many organisations undertake internal training or transferring of information on a daily basis –  whether it be group training or one on one transfer of job skill information from one employee to another. For your internal trainers, understanding adult learning and how to create the best environment for people to take in information is important.

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The 8 Skills Successful Leaders Need In 2018

Melissa Williams, CEO Learning Dimensions Network After a conversation with Leadership Dimensions Managing Partner Janet McCulloch, we have been reflecting on the topic of leadership. Let’s face it, being a leader today is a challenge. As we enter 2018 our world is more competitive, complex, globally connected (with speed and immediacy) and customers are more informed, and therefore demanding. Goal posts shift regularly and we work across-cultures, sometime with ambiguity and lack certainty. In the past, change was not as constant, and whilst the pressure to perform has always been there, but the speed at which this performance is now expected is unprecedented. This made me reflect on what’s changed in leadership and what the modern leader needs – distilled down to the top 8 skills that you’ll need to be a successful leader in 2018.

1. Change is the new normal

Change is now constant, and leaders are now expected to also be change managers. Gone are the days where a centralised HR team would manage all the ‘people stuff’. Now leaders are required to take on functions such as performance management, wellbeing, conflict management and mediation, training, and in many cases, recruitment of staff. Often leaders are promoted due to their ‘technical brilliance’, not their HR skills, yet this is now a core competency of today’s leader. In Australia, The Fair Work Act was designed to simplify and make transparent how we operate at work which helped with the decentralisation of HR departments. In turn, this created an environment where leaders at all levels are often made accountable for the intricacies in the Act and how this can or can’t be interpreted on a day to day level. This is a big ask if you are new to HR!

2. Smarter not harder

The old, ‘work smarter not harder’ has been replaced with ‘work leaner and more efficiently’. Enabled by better technology, leaders are now working with fewer resources coupled with higher expectations. We often hear leaders struggle with knowing how to do this. The reality is, it is a hard ask to adapt to this mindset, yet it is possible.

3. The ability to get lean

Organisational structures are flattening and doing away with more middle management. Therefore, a leader needs to know exactly where their authorities start and finish in terms of budget and finances, yet the expectations of their broader roles may be more ambiguous. Many organisations have moved to a matrix style operation where cross-functional project teams are formed. Effective leaders then need to focus less on authority and more about building cross-functional teams, sharing and collaboration.

4. The need for connection

With a significant increase in social media and overall virtual connectivity, the workplace has become a primary IRL (in real life) community for some people. A leader’s ability to create teams and increase participation and inclusion in diverse teams is directly attributable to people’s satisfaction at work, with a direct impact on people’s productivity and the organisational bottom line. Being able to foster, manage and grow cohesive connected communities, both online and in real life, is a vital skill for the modern leader.

5. Watch your words

With increased visibility on the impact of workplace bullying, leaders have tended to become far more aware and cautious about the nature of performance related conversations. In some cases, this awareness has led to a reluctance to have challenging conversations related to feedback and performance improvement. However leaders are expected to understand and implement the difference between managing performance and feedback vs discrimination, bullying and harassment and ensure they manage this balance effectively.

6. Safety starts from the top

Similar to HR,we find work, health and safety (WHS) is decentralising and is now a significant expectation of all leaders. Even if “Safety” isn’t part of your title, as a leader you’re responsible. In fact Queensland has just legislated to bring in Industrial Manslaughter laws ensuring negligent employers personally culpable in workplace deaths. Our sister brand, Safety Dimensions, who specialise in safety leadership, offers programs that focus on safety as being part of everyone’s role, not just those at the top. However just like the HR component of a modern leaders role, effective WHS requires an understanding and an ability to integrate this knowledge into day to day behaviours of your people and the organisations processes.

7. Human beings vs human resources

Emotional intelligence, mindfulness and compassion – these are words and skills that have made their way into part of the definition of leadership skills. A leader is expected to be self-aware and be able to effectively see and manage reactions in others and balance their EQ versus IQ to reach the optimal management mix.

8. Managing stress

With the changes outlined above, and the societal and family pressures our world places on us, there it’s no wonder that we have seen a significant increase in stress related illnesses in the workplace. A leader in today’s work environment is expected to notice symptoms of stress in ourselves and others, and know what steps to take. A leaders role is not to be a counselor, however they are expected to notice changes in behaviour in others (and themselves) and provide support in order to reduce the negative stress.Often the symptomology is not always ‘loud’ in terms of a persons behaviour. This means in the busyness of our day, taking the time to identify these symptoms and know what to do about it. Companies should have an expectation that staff will conduct themselves with professional maturity and emotional intelligence – even if someone doesn’t have the official directive of “Manager” or “Leader” in their title. We’ve noticed the trend in organisations to upskill ‘everyone’ to be leaders from the bottom up and this approach does make sense. However, from one leader to another, let’s face it, these expectations are exhausting. The demand to be a ‘people/change/organisational expert as well as being good at your ‘day job’ is relentless. However the simple reality is these 8 key challenges will only accelerate as the world gets smaller, technology increases and expectations for instant results intensifies. There is some good news. Whilst there is no miracle pill to developing a leader, there is an understanding that learning and development has adapted and changed to support the demands of being a modern leader. The rise in vocational training in Management and Leadership for those in professional jobs as well as trades is a testament to this change and I believe will continue to increase as the demands continue.


For more information on the content of this article or our Nationally recognised leadership and management qualifications, please contact info@safetydimensions.com.au