New Toolkits for Workplace Wellbeing & Designing Good Work.

Everyone, and every workplace culture is a little different. So even great Toolkits for Workplace Wellbeing & Designing Good Work need some tailoring to suit you. Need help leading mental health and tailoring a program?  We’re happy to talk and share ideas.  It was a delight to hear today’s speakers at the WayAhead Workplaces meeting share current and soon-to-be-released tools for designing good work that supports the wellbeing, safety and health of employees.

Alison Abbott, Principal Advisor and Emma Leyden, Principal Advisor, Healthy Workers Initiative, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Office of Industrial Relations, speaking on “How to Achieve Work Health and Wellbeing Outcomes by Designing Good Work”.

New toolkit coming in May 2019, with a healthy workplaces survey (audit checklist) and healthy worker survey – stay tuned.

Katherine Winlaw, Manager Workforce Futures & Inclusion, Public Service Commission Queensland, speaking on “Activating the Be healthy, be safe, be well Framework in the Queensland Public Sector”.

Also for good measure, this excellent Mentally Health Workplaces toolkit by WHS QLD.

MORE INFORMATION: mentally healthy workplace?  ASK YES.

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Age & Work

Age & Work. It was fantastic to attend the inaugural Age & Work Symposium in Brisbane. Some excellent wake up calls about the implications of longevity, the silent revolution, doing it differently and reframing conversations about ageing. The concepts of FREEDOM, individual pathways, managing transitions (versus retirement) and advocacy really struck a chord with me.  The research, statistics and myths around the ageing workforce, wellbeing and what people want and need were very enlightening.  In the words of symposium organisers…

We need a different conversation.

It is time to celebrate longevity.

Thanks to the Symposium organisers – Katrina Walton and Geoff Pearman.  Leading the way in the conversation about Australia and New Zealand’s ageing population and workforce are Symposium organisers, Partners in Change and Wellness Designstwo companies with a shared objective; to embrace the challenges of workforce ageing and celebrate longevity.

Regular Check-in Conversations Build Relationship Credit.

Regular Check-in Conversations Build Relationship Credit. Having regular check-in conversations with your team and one-on-one, can build positive relationship credit, making it easier over time to raise important or challenging topics.  Check-in conversations are a foundation skill (intervention) at the heart of employee wellbeing, performance, safety and engagement.  Consider that the frequency, type and tone of the conversations you have with each person shapes the relationship, trust and willingness to stick with the more difficult issues.

It takes time to have regular and well-paced one-on-one check-ins, however there can be a positive return on investment in terms of:

  • Getting to know others and their strengths, needs and motivators
  • Building your approachable-ness, trust and relationship resilience
  • Improving engagement and performance
  • Early detection and intervention for arising issues (in wellbeing, performance, safety and engagement)
  • Making it easier to give and receive feedback in the long-run

The check-in conversation is crucial way to show support. The mechanisms are varied, however the ability of the line leader to recognise and respond supportively to issues arising in their people, is recognised as a significant contributing variable in numerous outcomes related to people management and wellbeing at work (conflict, critical incidents, stress, person-job fit etc). Both the ‘perception of support’ from leaders (& workmates) and good working relationships help ‘mediate’ the negative effects of stress. Consider who you need to talk with and what level of check-in and frequency is required to build relationship credit.

The most effective types of check-ins are those that are:

  • Regular, constructive, positive and genuine,
  • Personalised to suit your style and the workplace culture,
  • Semi-structured, so that you deliberately ask the right sorts of questions in a consistent way, and
  • Where possible, face to face, however phone and video-conference can be just as effective.

You can create your own set of core check-in questions for your team (and even let your people know it’s what you’ll ask).  Below we list some samples of questions that can be effective and adapted to suit your own style.

Level 1: The Regular and General Check-in (checking for support):

  • How has your week been? OR “How are things going” (at work, at home, etc)
  • What’s been going well or according to plan?
  • What (if anything) has been a challenge or a bother for you?
  • What has been (or is) your way of handling that?
  • Is there anything that I, as a leader or colleague, can do to help you? (anything I need to know)?

Level 2: The Deeper Check-in (checking for engagement):

  • How has work been for you these past months?
  • What sorts or things have been a source of interest and motivation for you in the workplace?
  • What sorts of things give you a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment in an average week?
  • Is there anything on your mind that you would like to talk about… something that I need to know, to understand more about or that I should’ve asked about?
  • What can I do, as a leader or colleague, to help keep the lines of communication and connection open and working between us?
  • Would you be happy to schedule a time in the near future (if needed) to sit down together and talk about any one of these points in a bit more detail, or to just check in again or to sketch out some shared ideas we could put into place?

Level 3: The Courageous Check-in (checking for relationship):

  • How do you think our communication and interactions are going in the workplace?
  • Is there anything you’d like to know about me, or ask me, that would help you in approaching me, communicating with me and working with me?
  • Do you think there is anything (even if a mild misunderstanding) that might be getting in the way of us communicating, relating to each other, working together and/or getting the job done? If so, I’d like to hear about it (when you’re ready) and determine some helpful and constructive ways to deal with it (in an open, no-blame way).
  • Would you feel comfortable now, or maybe later, in putting the issue or situation on the table for us to both discuss, and also add your suggestions about how to we can deal with it?


  • How has this (type of) conversation been for you? [this meta-question and can be quite powerful]


ASK YES if you want to know more about this topic, or training your leaders in how to have effective conversations?


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“How to compassionately discipline employees with mental health issues”

How to compassionately discipline employees with mental health issues”. YES Psychology & Consulting is delighted to be invited to present on this topic at the upcoming HRD Employment Law Masterclass (by HRD magazine) at Hilton Brisbane, Tuesday 13 November 2018. The topics covered will include:

  • What type of support does a person need when they’re undergoing disciplinary proceedings?
  • Practical tips for handling tough disciplinary conversations in a mental health context
  • Practical tips to minimise the risk of psychiatric harm during performance discussions
  • What to say to an employee during a disciplinary meeting with an employee who has disclosed a mental health issue

The HRD Employment Law Masterclass focuses on the legal issues that are proving the most challenging and complex for HR practitioners and business managers. The program is presented by experts from Australia’s top law firms, who will provide valuable insight into a number of topics with a focus on recent cases and court decisions.

See the schedule and booking details on this link:  HRD Employment Law Masterclass, Brisbane.

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Navigating Workplace Wellness Guides.

Navigating Workplace Wellness Guides.  There are numerous workplace wellness program guides and a wealth of additional material, opinions, case studies and interventions available on the market. Navigating this can be a challenge, especially where guides diverge and fashionable trends come and go.

Targeted workplace wellness interventions produce a positive return on investment (ROI), including specific mental health interventions in the workplace. (**research available upon request, conducted in the past 5 years by PwC/Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance; KPMG/Mental Health Australia; NSW Government/CHERE). Read more about ROI..

So, we expect to see continued focus and advocacy for increased funding of mental health interventions in the workplace. Organisational leaders want to do the right thing but don’t always know how and where to start. More supervisors, HR and WH&S personnel are taking on the additional hat of ‘wellbeing ambassador’, ‘peer supporter’ and/or ‘mental health advocate’.

This can often lead to busy professionals seeking up-to-date information, case-studies and ROI information to build a business case and start ‘somewhere’ that’s cost-effective and suitable to the organisation’s culture and level of wellness program maturity.

A number of great guidelines are available in Australia with tips on designing and implementing policies and programs. Furthermore, there are specialised resources on calculating ROI, managing psychosocial risk, psychosocial safety climate, bullying, domestic and family violence, mentally healthy workplaces, reducing stigma and how to have conversations about mental health at work.

When conducting Masterclasses in this arena, some frequent questions we field include:

  • Where do we start?
  • What are other organisations doing?
  • What are the critical success factors and lessons learned by others?
  • Where can I find the case studies applicable to our type of organisation?
  • What tools are other organisations using?
  • How do we put together a business case for our Senior Leaders and CEO?
  • How long will it take to get a positive ROI?
  • Which model or guidelines should we use?
  • How do we encourage employee participation and change their health-related behaviours?
  • How much money do we need to spend to do something worthwhile?
  • How do we set objectives and benchmark ourselves?
  • If we’re too busy to evaluate our program, what simple and robust methods can we use?
  • Can we design our own workplace wellbeing program?

If these are also your questions… you’re not alone and they have sensible answers, when considered in context to your organisation’s current state, leadership commitment and culture.

So if you’ve been nominated to find out more… we can help point you in the right direction. Contact YES for more information on how we can help you navigate the wellness literature and program advice.

You may also be interested in our W.O.W. sessions. Workshops on Wellness (WOW) are facilitated sessions, held at your workplace to help you to gather your data, insights, objectives and energy towards a tangible plan for implementing or improving your workplace wellbeing program. The aim is to help get you un-stuck, moving forward and accelerating towards easy-wins and a proper strategy and program suitable to your organisation’s needs.

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Practicing Small Steps to Motivation

Practicing Small Steps to Motivation. A common side effect of dealing with life challenges and a barrier to making healthy changes is a LACK OF MOTIVATION. Yet we need motivation to ‘get up’ and try out new and helpful habits. We know from research and clinical practice, that once people actually start using the new habit or coping pattern they usually deal with the problem or progress their goals better. The key is to simply start, to move from thought to action, to move from no motivation to the first step, from knowing what to do to doing it.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Motivation won’t just arrive if you wait for it – but you can build it
  • Motivation comes from practicing the new or helpful habit you are aiming for
  • Motivation can be achieved by taking small steps
  • Motivation comes from doing first- the feeling comes shortly afterwards
  • Motivation comes from small successes
  • Motivation increases after just 1 or 2 successful practices
  • Motivation, through practicing skills in your personal environment, leads to significant change. Research suggests that if you practice, you are up to 3 times more likely to succeed and change.
  • Motivation to change a habit is best achieved by using simple strategies; using them every day; keeping visual reminders; & seeking support
  • Motivation is maintained when you remind yourself of the reasons and rewards for developing a new/useful habit

Strategy:   When you work with a counsellor or coach, you will often be asked to complete practice tasks (sometimes called homework). For example, recording your thoughts and feelings, practicing simple techniques, trying out a new action, facing a fear, being assertive with someone etc.  This is done for the following reasons:Strategy:   When you work with a counsellor or coach, you will often be asked to complete practice tasks (sometimes called homework). For example, recording your thoughts and feelings, practicing simple techniques, trying out a new action, facing a fear, being assertive with someone etc.

This is done for the following reasons:
1. Real change comes from practicing the new and helpful habits or skills in your own environment.

2. Practice leads to increased motivation and empowerment.

3. Take home tasks often involve collecting important information about yourself and the problems which can be used in planning to beat the problems.

4. Practice tasks lead to increased self awareness, self control and self esteem.


These tasks are most effective when you understand the reason behind them, the rewards you’ll get from doing them, and when they are personal and targeted toward what you want. Sometimes the take home or practice tasks seem daunting or too hard. In this case, talk to your coach about them and re-plan an easier task. If the task doesn’t work out the way you expect, then once again you and your therapist will re-plan the task to make it successful and powerful.

There are good reasons for why your coach asks you to complete a practice or home task, if you are unsure about the reasons, it’s perfectly okay to ask for more information.

Tips for Keeping Motivated

  • List the reasons for why you want to change (a habit, or feeling, or belief, or behaviour)
  • Remind yourself regularly of the REWARDS for changing
  • Take things in small, planned steps• Use reminder notes
  • Seek support from family and friends and work-mates to encourage and remind you of the new habit you want to develop
  • Use positive thinking strategies, and positive affirmations
  • Talk to others about getting motivated
  • Rearrange your timetable to support you, and the energy and time involved in changing
  • Record your successes, and reward yourself for success (eg movies, a self-gift)
  • Helping others to change can help to motivate ourselves
  • Read motivational books, watch motivational programs, hang out with positive people
  • Create a positive daily routine which reminds and supports you in changing to new habits
  • Allow yourself; the luxury of time, forgiveness for slow progress, and understanding for mistakes along the way.
  • Remind yourself that ‘change is surely possible, but it takes time to change a pattern. So with practice, everyday, you can achieve a new habit’.
  • ‘It won’t happen overnight – but it will happen’.

Using Reminders for Maintaining Momentum

Place positive words or messages or reminder notes in the following locations

  • On fridge, on door, the wall,
  • In your bag/wallet/purse
  • Screen Saver on your computer
  • Wallpaper/background on your computer
  • Welcome note on your mobile phone
  • On your bookmark for reading
  • In your car
  • Beside the bed
  • In a frame

Other ideas

  • Develop a personal Motto, Quote or Saying and use it
  • Play a song that reminds you of your goals and the steps on your plan
  • Use a picture, symbol or object in your home or office that reminds you of the things you are trying to achieve
  • Use a buddy-system, someone to check in with you about how your goals and efforts are going.

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Flex your Strengths for Effectiveness at Work and Home.

Flex your Strengths for Effectiveness at Work and Home. Identifying and using your strengths is a sure way to improve your engagement, satisfaction and effectiveness at work and at home.  Other benefits include: developing self-awareness, resilience and confidence, increasing vitality and energy and seeing the strengths in others.

Steps to ‘flex’ your strengths:

  1. Identify your strengths by using strengths finders, self-reflection and feedback from others. This will give you a list of your top/core strengths (character strengths, values, abilities, skills, aptitudes etc).
  2. Take some time to observe your top strengths in your work and home life. Note when and how you are using your strengths. Also note the benefits and how you feel when you use your top strengths.
  3. Determine how you can use your strengths more in your everyday work and life. Think of specific ways in which you can exercise the strength.

To help you on your way, here is a (non-exhaustive) list of General Strengths in the Workplace:

  • Activating
  • Adapting
  • Administering
  • Analyzing information
  • Arranging
  • Advising
  • Budgeting
  • Building teams
  • Briefing
  • Balancing
  • Communicating
  • Controlling
  • Coordinating
  • Creating
  • Checking
  • Counseling
  • Compiling
  • Coaching
  • Deciding
  • Detailing
  • Developing people
  • Directing
  • Devising
  • Discovering
  • Data input
  • Empathizing
  • Evaluating
  • Examining
  • Explaining
  • Editing
  • Empowering
  • Finding
  • Fixing
  • Formulating
  • Finalizing
  • Guiding a group or individual
  • Gathering information
  • Generating ideas
  • Giving feedback
  • Helping
  • Handling
  • Hosting
  • Imagining
  • Implementing
  • Influencing
  • Initiating
  • Innovating
  • Interviewing
  • Instructing
  • Judging
  • Learning
  • Listening
  • Locating
  • Launching
  • Leading
  • Managing
  • Mentoring
  • Monitoring
  • Motivating
  • Meeting people
  • Marketing
  • Negotiating
  • Navigating
  • Observing
  • Organizing
  • Overhauling
  • Overseeing
  • Persuading
  • Planning
  • Preparing
  • Presenting
  • Problem-solving
  • Proof reading
  • Prioritizing
  • Questioning
  • Qualifying
  • Researching
  • Resolving
  • Reporting
  • Recording
  • Repairing
  • Reviewing
  • Scheduling
  • Selling
  • Setting-up
  • Supervising
  • Simplifying
  • Speaking
  • Strategizing
  • Teaching
  • Team-work
  • Trouble-shooting
  • Training
  • Tracking details
  • Thinking creatively
  • Understanding
  • Uniting
  • Upgrading
  • Updating
  • Verbalizing
  • Volunteering
  • Verifying
  • Writing


If you’d like more information on building strengths in the workplace, please ASK YES.