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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, 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 or WebEx, chances are the face-to-face natural social interactions you’d share in the workplace have dramatically diminished over the past few months.

At the same time, there may be a change in domestic dynamics – perhaps both you and your partner are working from home using technology, you may have children still in the home which presents its own challenges. Plus many are on reduced hours and are trying to do more with less time.

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 stressing 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.

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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:

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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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

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

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What happens in an unsafe work environment? (Video)

What happens in an unsafe work environment? (Video)

In this brief video, Simon Sinek looks at what a psychologically safe work environment looks like and what happens to people when we don’t create a safe place at work. People need to feel safe enough to share their honest feelings with the confidence that their bosses or colleagues will rush to support them – not judge or fire them.

See the full interview on Impact Theory here.

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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Subscribe Now! >>

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

read more

Dreamworld Coroner finds leadership culpable

Dreamworld Coroner finds leadership culpable

On 25 October 2016, a tragic incident occurred on the Thunder River Rapids Ride (TRRR) at Dreamworld Theme Park, claiming four lives.

 

The 30-year-old TRRR ride was a water based family orientated ‘moderate thrill ride’ where patrons simulated white water rafting in a circular raft, suitable for patrons over the age of two, with the option of having children seated on an adult’s lap.

On that day Raft 5 became stranded on steel support rails situated at the end of the rides’ conveyor belt and it continued to travel where it collided with another raft before being lifted and pulled vertically into the conveyor mechanism. However, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Cindy Low and Roozbeh Araghi were caught in the mechanism of the ride, and were either trapped in the raft or ejected into the water beneath the conveyor. Although ride operators and some patrons immediately responded, the four were declared deceased at the scene. Two children, aged 10 and 12, seated at the top of Raft 5 were able to free themselves and escape to safety.

Beginning 2018,  Coroner James McDougall ‘s inquest examined the circumstances that caused the fatalities, including:

  • The construction, maintenance, safety measures, staffing, history and modifications of the ride.
  • The sufficiency of the training provided to staff in operating the ride.
  • The regulatory environment and applicable standards by which amusement park rides operate in Queensland and Australia.
  • What further actions and safety measures could be introduced to prevent a similar future incident from occurring.

Coroner James McDougall handed down his findings on Feb 24 2020 telling the Queensland court that there was a “total” and “systemic failure by Dreamworld to ensure all aspects of safety” and referred parent company Ardent Leisure for possible prosecution.

The findings included:

  • That the design and construction of the TTTR ride “posed significant risk” to patrons.
  • “Dreamworld could, and should, have identified the safety issues” but there was no evidence of an engineering assessment on the TTTR ride in 30 years.
  • There were “frighteningly unsophisticated systems” in place, that “shoddy record-keeping was a significant contributor to this incident and contributed to the masking of the real risk of the ride” and that the likelihood of a serious accident “was simply a matter of time”.
  • The responsibilities placed on operational staff was stressful and “clearly unreasonable and excessive” which included monitoring of the pumps, CCTV, air pressure of the gates and queue lines. Operating the ride was “complex, confusing” and the ride lacked the “required labelling”, with ride operators having to perform more than a dozen tasks in the space of a single minute.
  • Each of the trained ride operators, noted that a requirement the role was to watch the water level, done by looking at an informal ‘scum’ mark around the trough of the ride, as well as the buoyancy of the rafts at the load and unload station, and whether they were sitting on the rails.
  • There was also evidence of “an inherent lack of proper training and process in place at Dreamworld to ensure the training provided to new Ride Operators and Instructors was suitable for the roles and responsibilities to be undertaken.”

Following the Dreamworld tragedy and the in the wake of the deaths of two workers at the Eagle Farm racecourse, Queensland introduced the charge of industrial manslaughter in 2017. Under those laws Ardent Leisure, Dreamworld’s parent company, would faces fines of up to $3 million, with individual executives facing up to $600,000 and five years’ jail.

However, this law does apply retrospectively and the industrial manslaughter provisions only apply to the deaths of workers, not visitors to a workplace.

Coroner McDougall said he “reasonably suspected” Ardent Leisure had committed an offence under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and advised he would be referring the company to the Queensland Office of Industrial Relations to consider prosecutions. In 2017 Queensland Police advised that no criminal charges would be laid against Dreamworld staff over the fatalities.

Coroner McDougall stated in his remarks that “such a culpable culture can exist only when leadership from the board (of Dreamworld’s parent company, Ardent Leisure) down are careless in respect of safety … that cannot be allowed.”

Download the complete Coroner’s report:

https://www.awu.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/10545784-final-dreamworld-draft-6-for-upload_compressed.pdf

Ready to train your people in risk management, hazard identification and subcontractor management?

We have a range of programs to train your people in risk management, hazard identification  and subcontractor management which can be tailored specifically to your industry and organisational needs. Training can be delivered as individual modules or as part of one of our accredited programs.

You can see our full program suite here >> or see some relevant units below:

Risk Assessment & Hazard Identification

This program helps you identify and describe the difference between a hazard and a risk, and introduces a way of thinking about hazard identification and risk management as an everyday activity. 

It will also enhance the skills and capabilities of leaders in the areas of hazard identification, risk analysis and identification and how to implement appropriate risk controls.

Download the course outline>>

Subcontractor Management

Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.  It also covers the WHS obligations regarding subcontractors, stepping through the various stages of effective subcontractor management, including assessing, evaluating safety history, attitude and managing expectations of performance and reporting.

See our 1-day program >>

BSB41415 Certificate IV in WHS

The BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is a nationally accredited program which will teach you how to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk and consult on work health and safety issues. This program is most suited to those in a Safety Officer or Health and Safety Representatives role, or those currently in leadership roles wishing to shift their career into Health and Safety.

Read more about this program >>

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WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

read more