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Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces

Views: 1055Posted 08-10-2018

(Last Updated On: February 26, 2019)

To mark World Mental Health Day, we speak with Patrice O’Brien, General Manager of Workplace Partnership and Engagement from beyondblue. In this episode we delve into the world of Mental Health and how it applies to small business owners.

It’s an important conversation. 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental health condition in a given year, and almost 1 in 2 will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime. A recent report on mental health in the workplace by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) looked at the financial cost incurred when employers did not take action to manage mental health conditions in their business. It estimated that the cost to Australian business is approximately $10.9 billion per year.

So how do we create workplaces that support mental health – not just for employees, but for small business owners too?

Patrice offers some great insights into the importance of self-care, and why when it comes to mental health at work, prevention is the best cure.

The Takeaways

  • Why small business owners need to look after their own mental health, and recognise the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • How absenteeism and presenteeism is costing your business
  • Planning ahead for peak times to ease the mental burden of work on your staff
  • Why civility in the workplace is a key ingredient to a mentally healthy culture
  • Businesses that thrive are the ones who prioritise mental health in the workplace
  • The best and most important changes you can make in your workplace are simple and free

Important Small Business Resources

beyondblue https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

HeadsUp https://www.headsup.org.au/

Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Lee: [00:00:00] Patrice welcome to the show.

 

Patrice: [00:00:02] Thanks so much Lee. It’s great to be here.

 

Lee: [00:00:05] Firstly I want to jump in and look at some of the statistics around mental health in the workplace. Can you talk us through what are the numbers telling us when it comes to mental health in the workplace and how it relates to small businesses?

 

Patrice: [00:00:17] Yes sure. So Beyondblue and I’ll talk about it as we go through but Beyondblue has got a program called “Heads Up” that we’ve launched about 4 years ago. It’s all about creating mentally healthy workplaces including small business. Before we launch that we did a whole lot of research so that we had some really strong numbers to back this up. So one of those pieces of research we commissioned it through Pricewaterhouse Coopers. It found out a lot about the cost of mental health to workplaces of all sizes. So this research found that the cost of mental health is about 10.9 billion dollars per annum to business. A lot of times when you talk to business they say, “Oh no, we don’t really have that issue. We’ve never had a worker’s comp claim.” The really interesting finding from that was that the workers comp claims are only a tiny percentage and that the real costs are associated with absenteeism so people dropping out to come to work and presenteeism so people being at work but not being fully productive so then that impacting on productivity. The 10.9 billion didn’t even include if you lost someone from the workplace and then had to hire someone else, train them and all of the costs associated with that. So you can assume that the costs are a lot higher. The good news around that is that the research also found that there’s a really good return on investment. It found that on average for every dollar spent there’s an average return on investment of $2.30. So it actually makes really good business sense to think about a mentally healthy workplace but it’s also really important from a human perspective as well. So the other numbers that we know about is that approximately 1 in 5 people in any workplace at any point in time will be experiencing a mental health condition. I guess from a small business perspective you know even if there are only five people in your business, you can expect that at any point in time it’s likely that someone will be going through an experience and that might mean that they’ve got it really well managed. They’re coping really well. They’re absolutely effective and productive. It might also mean that they’re struggling. I think the other important thing for small business owners to think about is that it might be themselves. In all of this don’t forget to look out for yourself. Some of the other findings that the research we did found was that more and more employees are really looking to their workplace to be more mentally healthy. In fact one of the pieces of research we did found that having a mentally healthy workplace was second only to salary in terms of what employees were looking for from their employer and that’s particularly young employees. So I think as business owners that means there’s a lot that we need to think about in terms of how we look after our staff and the kind of environments we want to create.

 

Lee: [00:03:10] Okay that’s some really interesting numbers there. I want to follow up on something you just said around mentally healthy workplace being second only to salary. Can you tell us what does a mentally healthy workplace look like? What’s the criteria?

 

Lee: [00:03:23] Yes sure. So look the way I like to make it clear I guess and to paint a picture of it is that often when we think about mental health you might think about being well or unwell. At Beyondblue we think about mental health in a different way and that we think about it being like a continuum. So if you picture a graduated continuum that starts at green and sort of moves to yellow and then amber and then red. Picture mental health moving along that continuum. So you know when you have those days when you wake up in the morning and you feel great you’re ready for the day ahead of you. You get to work. You’re switched on and you’re engaged. You’re concentrating really well. You don’t have any interrupting thoughts. You’re in the green. You’re in a really good place. Sometimes all of us from time to time can move into the yellow or the amber where there might be something going on in our lives. We might be worrying about something and we might start to notice that we’re a bit distracted. We’re not as switched on as what we have been. Then that can gradually move into the amber and then eventually into the red when people are really experiencing signs and symptoms of a mental health condition. So to me, a mentally healthy workplace has to consider the whole continuum. A lot of the time when people think about a mentally healthy workplace, they just think about the red end and say, “Oh yes we’ll worry about that if someone ever gets sick.” When I talk about a mentally healthy workplace, I say it’s a place where if someone becomes unwell, you’ve got the right things in place to support them, you know what to do, how to have a conversation with them and a way to help them turn for support. If someone is moving into that yellow or the orange zone and experiencing signs and symptoms that people in the workplace know how to recognise that because you’ve talked openly about mental health. So they know how to look out for someone. They know how to have conversation with them, checking on them in, as I said, point them to the right place for support. It’s also about creating an environment where as many people can be in the green as possible because a mentally healthy workplace is all about encouraging productivity, getting the best out of people and creating a really thriving environment and that’s the kind of place we all want to work. Where people come to work, they’re engaged, connected and supporting each other. So it’s that whole spectrum of things that is what a mentally healthy workplace looks like.

 

Lee: [00:05:43] It really sounds like a big part of it is that old saying that prevention is the best cure.

 

Patrice: [00:05:47] Absolutely. So I mean often when we talk about mental health and mental health in small business people say, “Well what do we do if someone becomes unwell?” Actually I think the real key to this is thinking about what do you do every day in your business? So that if someone is becoming unwell, they’re able to come and talk to you and have that open conversation. I think it’s really important to clarify here that we are not for a minute asking small business owners to become budding psychologists. Small business owners have well and truly got enough on their plate. It’s an incredibly tough gig and actually it’s not going to help anyone because that’s not what most small business owners are skilled to do. So this is really just about being open to having a conversation with someone and if someone does check in with you, whether that be about a mental health condition, their parent being unwell, their kid getting bullied at school or any of those things that life can throw at us. Being able to say to them, “You know I’m here with you. I hear what you’re going through. I’m really sorry to hear about it. Let me see if I can help you get the support that you need.” So if you can create that kind of environment then you can help to prevent issues occurring. If they do occur, you can ensure that you can work on them really early which is a much better way to deal with it.

 

Lee: [00:07:17] Absolutely, so let’s get down to the nuts and bolts. You’ve talked about mental health management in the workplace being a bit of a spectrum in that the green, amber into red. In tangible and practical terms what does that look like? What are the strategies that small business owners should think about putting in place to make sure they’re managing a person who might be experiencing a mental health issue at any end of that spectrum or to help prevent them from developing one at all?

 

Patrice: [00:07:42] Sure. So I think there’s something really important to say before I get into that. When we first launched “Heads Up” we thought we had the message to small business spot on and we didn’t. We got it wrong and we got some really loud feedback on that and really good feedback. The reason was that we didn’t focus enough on the small business side of themselves. So the message that we heard very loudly and clearly is that first and foremost as a small business the small business owner needs to look after themselves first. It’s almost like you know when you get on a plane and it’s put your own oxygen mask on first before you help your kids because if youre not coping, no one else is going to be. So I think a big part of creating a mentally healthy workplace for a small business is that small business owner making sure that they’ve got a plan for themselves and for how they’re going to look after their own mental health that is really important. Once they have thought about that they can start to have a bit of a better think about the whole business. It is different being a small business because when we talk about this to big business, we talk about having a fully integrated and sustainable workplace mental health strategy. Big businesses can apply a lot more resources to this kind of thing than what small businesses can. So for small business we try and keep the tips fairly simple. It is about creating a culture where people can come to work and talk openly about things. So for a small business owner as a leader, it’s about showing that vulnerability, being open when things are going on in your own life and showing your staff that it’s okay to have those kinds of conversations around here. It’s about creating an environment where you really try to avoid stigma and discrimination. You really create an open and respectful environment. It’s about creating an environment where your staff can have a role in decision making. So one of the real risk factors is when people feel that they don’t have any control. So it’s about creating an environment where how can you involve staff in decision making and in planning what their own roles look like, within reason of course. There’s always business requirements. It’s also thinking about how you can educate yourself as a small business owner and your staff a bit about signs and symptoms of mental health. There’s any number of ways that you can do that that won’t cost you a cent. So all of the resources on the “Heads Up” website are free. We’ve got a whole section on it that are particularly related to small business. There’s things on there like e-learning tools where you can jump on into a lesson. There’s case studies. So there’s a whole range of things so you don’t need to go away, pay for any expensive training or anything like that. You can just absolutely run with what’s there, share it with your team and that will help to just gradually build that that education. The more that we can have normal conversations about mental health everyday then the easier things get.

 

Lee: [00:10:40] I absolutely agree. It’s a huge part of overcoming the stigma and having those conversations. It’s something we talked about just before the show actually was how important it is to have these conversations and open up the discussion. So people know it’s a safe space to talk about, they can overcome their own issues or will help others overcome their own.

 

Patrice: [00:10:57] Can I just jump in Lee, I had this fantastic conversation recently with this young woman. So one of the things that Beyondblue does is we’ve got these incredible people, who are our speakers got a speakers bureau. So we’ve got about 250 people across Australia, who volunteer with us, who’ve all had their own experience of depression, anxiety or suicidality. They share their stories. So we get requests from workplaces, community centers, Rotary clubs, schools and these incredible speakers go out and share their story. It’s a huge stigma reduction initiative and it’s just amazing. I was at a training day for some of our speakers and one of them said to me, she was telling me about her job. She just got her first job. She was really young and she was working at one of those clothing stores like really young women clothing stores like Supre or something like that. I said, “Well what happens if you get asked to do a speaking gig and you got to shift? She said, “Oh like if it was in the city, they just let me duck out and do make up the hours. I was like, “Really?” I said, “That’s great.” She said, “Oh yes, they’re really into it.” I said, “Oh did you think twice about telling them that you’re a Beyondblue speaker?” She goes, “No, it’s on my résumé.” I said, “Oh that’s that’s awesome. What did you think twice about putting it on your résumé?” She was just looking at me like I was mad and she said, “Why would I?” I said, “Weren’t you worried about a prospective employer having stigma that you’re disclosing a mental health condition before you’ve even started? She looked at me and she said, “That never occurred to me.” This is such a promising thing for the future that a young person feels like that because I think in the years gone by that just wouldn’t have happened. So that gives me hope.

 

Lee: [00:12:44] Absolutely. It is a great story and it’s certainly a sign that some of these barriers are coming down that some people are starting to feel confident enough to put it on their own resumes and work it around their hours at work. It’s a really promising sign that we’re making progress.

 

Patrice: [00:12:59] Yes, I think so.

 

Lee: [00:13:00] Obviously a big part of your message in working with small business owners is being aware of their own mental health. Can you talk us through some of the signs and symptoms that a small business owners should be aware of?

 

Patrice: [00:13:12] Yes absolutely. So one of the things we’ve really found is that although there is increased awareness around depression in Australia, people still don’t have a good understanding of an anxiety. So often people experience signs and symptoms and they just think it’s something they have to put up with. They don’t really know what they are. So some of the things that people should be looking out for is some of the things that I mentioned earlier. So it could be feeling really run down. Fight harder to get out of bed in the morning. Having sort of intrusive thoughts and not being able to focus as much as what you normally would. It could be mood fluctuations. It could be feeling sort of despondent about things in a way that really persists. I mean all of the things that I’ve just mentioned are things that can happen from time to time but I guess if you notice those sort of feelings persisting over a longer period. Also things like wanting to withdraw from social things, not getting as much enjoyment out of things that you would normally enjoy and feeling sort of overly worried about things that you would normally be able to cope with. So the challenge I think for small business owners is that running a small business can be so stressful in itself that you can feel a lot of those things anyway. I think what we’ve seen in a lot of professions is that people just think that that’s part of what they have to put up with. If those feelings persist over 2 to 4 weeks in a really persistent way then it’s probably a sign you need to check in and really check in and say what you can do to manage them. It’s far better to do that early and manage it rather than to wait until it becomes more of a problem.

 

Lee: [00:14:57] Looking at it from the other side, what are some of the common signs that an employee might be struggling with their mental health.

 

Patrice: [00:15:04] So similar things, an employer might notice that they’re not as punctual as usual. They might notice that they’re not getting aspects of their work done to the standard that they normally would. They might notice they have more withdrawn. They might notice that their mood seems to be fluctuating. Their behavior is different to what it’s normally like. Again I think one of the challenges can be is that small business owners that run their business and sometimes some of that stuff can look a bit like poor performance. I guess from my perspective the message around that is before you jump down that approach check in with someone and see what’s happening for them. Actually most people come to work and want to do a good job. If it is because they’re struggling with somethin, there’s a lot of things that you can do in those early stages to get them back on track and to retain a valuable productive employee. Rather than jumping straight down the performance management approach when it might not be a performance issue at all.

 

Lee: [00:16:09] That’s an important point you make because some of the symptoms and signs that you talk about can easily be written off as laziness, lack of commitment or poor performance. How do small business owners catch that thought early and move away from those kinds of assumptions that are more damaging mindset into something a little bit more constructive?

 

Patrice: [00:16:28] I think it’s just about continuing to educate themselves and having that in mind. I think that the more that you create an environment where you do talk openly about things the easier it is to catch that. What you can do is if you notice that there’s changes in a staff member’s behavior. I mean when you work in a small business you’re with people a lot. So you get to see if their behavior has changed. When you notice that the earlier you can say them, “Hey you don’t seem yourself.” The more that you can nip it in the bud. So I think having those conversations and creating an environment where you have those conversations as much as possible is a real protective factor in itself because then you’ll know. If they say to you, “Look I’m really struggling at the moment I’m not concentrating. I don’t really know why.” You can at least then say, “Have you thought about calling the Beyondblue support line or going to say your GP.” You know you can point them in the direction of some support. As I said it might be that they tell you it’s something else going on in their life because life happens. There’s things that you can then do to say, “Well what do we need to do to help you through this?” I certainly dealt with a lot of my staff. You know I obviously don’t work in a small business but I look at my team that I lead as a kind of you know if I look at that as like a small business. Someone struggling, I look at what I can do to support them through that and that might be working in a couple of days a week from home for a while, might be reducing their hours for a while or might be changing some of their duties. Yes that can be hard to manage in the short term as a busines but what I’ve found is that the long term benefits: the loyalty from those staff that you’ve supported. It’s so worthwhile. So I think it’s creating an environment where that sort of thing can happen more naturally.

 

Lee: [00:18:21] What are some of the common workplace triggers that an employer should be mindful of both in terms of preventing mental health issues from developing and also helping people manage existing mental health issues and that might be for their employees and even for themselves?What are some of the triggers they should think of or be mindful of in a workplace?

 

Patrice: [00:18:41] Yes sure. So I mean I think we’ve always got to remember that the reality for small business owners that work happens and it has to happen. There’s deadlines, there’s customer demands and there’s [00:18:51] best [0.3] statements to be done and all of those things that are absolute realities. So I think sometimes it’s about thinking about what have we got coming up and do we know that there’s a really busy time ahead when we’re all going to get smashed? That’s just how it’s going to be. You can’t sometimes change those risks. They can be the nature of the business. What you can sometimes do is you can look at how you are going to support your staff through that. So you might plan in advance some additional staffing over a certain period of time it’s going to be really busy. You might plan that you know there’s a period of time that’s going to be really busy but you’ve factored in for staff to have a couple of days off at the end of it. It’s those kind of things or you might just make sure that over those period you checking in with staff more regularly to see what’s happening. Some of the other triggers are and some of the experts in this space talk about something that sounds so basic but it’s about civility in the workplace. It’s about being nice to each other at work. Again when there’s high stress, the best of us can sometimes sort of bark at each other a bit or not interact in the way that we probably aspire to. So I think again it’s about really trying to create an environment where as much as possible you just treat people on a day to day basis with a lot of respect. It’s very simple. It’s very powerful and that if you do have those stressful moments and that isn’t quite as much as what you might hope it would be that you check in afterwards and say, “Hey sorry you know in the heat of the moment there.” You check in on each other. So it’s being mindful of those times that the stress will be higher. I think it’s well as I said earlier environments where employers have very little control over the role that they play can also be another risk factor. So getting your staff involved in things and again it can be quite amazing the ideas that can come out of staff when you give them that opportunity to be involved. It builds that loyalty and engagement. So it’s a win win.

 

Lee: [00:20:55] I think being civil and nice to each other is probably good advice for life in general not just the workplace.

 

Patrice: [00:20:59] Absolutely .

 

Lee: [00:21:01] Something I wanted to ask you about was what an employer or a small business owner should do if they suspect one of their employees is having an issue with their mental health but they haven’t broached it with them they haven’t brought it up but they’re aware that something’s going on the performance has dropped, they’re not showing up at work on time and they do seem withdrawn. Perhaps there’s an issue going on but the employee themselves hasn’t raised it. How can an employer tackle that issue?

 

Patrice: [00:21:27] So again I think that prevention is really key here. So the more that you’ve done to create an environment where you do have those open conversations, the easier it’s going to be. Also if you feel a bit anxious about having that kind of conversation as a small business owner then there is some great tools and resources on the “Heads up” website around exactly that how to have a conversation and some real practical steps around how to do that. Some of it’s as simple as thinking of when you’re going to have it, where you can have it, you don’t necessarily want it to be on the shop floor in front of other people. Thinking about are you the right person or is there someone in the workplace that they are really close to that you might say, “Hey have you had a chat to so-and-so to see how they’re they’re getting along?” Then really just checking in and just saying to someone, ” You don’t seem yourself lately are you okay? Is there anything that we can do.?” I think one of the really important things around the are-you-okay question is being ready for the answer, to be no I’m not. We did some work a while ago out in the Pilbara in some of the really remote mining sites out there which was an incredible experience. These guys at one of the mining sites said to me, “We know our employers are really trying. It’s really changed. We know our employers are really trying because every day we come on shift and they say to us, how are you going you know, with the internet connection working last night were you able to Skype your family, how the kids, they’re really checking in on us.” One of the guys said to me, “You know one day I said to my supervisor you know what mate, I’m not going good I don’t know why but this swing I’m just really struggling.” The supervisor said to him, “Oh.” He learnt enough to ask the question but he hadn’t kind of let the next step about what to do if the answer was No I’m not really okay. So I think it’s about preparing yourself that if someone says, “Yes, I am struggling,” to know then what to do. This comes back to the point I made earlier around, you don’t have to be a psychologist, you don’t have to start counselling them, you just have to say I’m really sorry to hear that I’m here for you. I want to support you. Have you thought about the types of services that are available? So great idea as a business owner to be aware of those. The Beyondblue Support services 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You can ring, you can email or you can web chat, which we get a lot of use by young people. This is how they’re used to interacting on web chat. So no barriers to accessing that it’s absolutely free. So that’s something that you can turn people to. One of the challenges for small businesses is that they don’t tend to have access to things like EAP employee assistance programs that a lot of large businesses have. So using things like the support service and the other thing you can always do is just suggest to someone to go and see their GP.

 

Lee: [00:24:18] Can you tell us why do we need to start thinking about mental health in the workplace as seriously as any other health issue?

 

Patrice: [00:24:25] So I think that the number one reason for that from my perspective is that the human reason. So when you think about mental health that the two most prevalent mental health conditions in Australia are anxiety and depression. Right now in Australia approximately 3 million people are living with anxiety and depression. Now the thing about these conditions is that if they’re treated early then people can recover. People can absolutely lead a very full and productive life with these conditions when they’re managed. Unfortunately we know that about 50% of people experiencing depression or anxiety don’t seek help or take many years to seek that support. So the most tragic outcome of these conditions when they do go untreated can be that someone does get to the point where they take their own lives. Right now in Australia approximately 8 people lose their lives to suicide every single day. So just to give you a bit of context that’s over double the road toll. So when you think about all of the things that we do to try and reduce the road toll that’s the same focus that we need to have around trying to prevent suicide. So can you imagine if every workplace in Australia looked like those type of workplaces that I was talking about? Environments where if you’re struggling, you know that it’s safe to talk and that you will be responded to without stigma or discrimination. You’ll be pointed in the right direction for support. If we could create an Australia where people went to work and that’s what it was like I truly believe that we can change that suicide rate significantly. We can save people’s lives. What a great aspiration that is for workplaces and what a huge role workplaces can play in making that difference. So I think it’s absolutely important from that human reason.

 

Lee: [00:26:30] Patrice when you put it in those terms this sounds like it should really be the common sense approach.

 

Patrice: [00:26:35] Absolutely. I think that it is just the way that we should go on the right thing to do and that’s something that businesses should absolutely be thinking about.

 

Lee: [00:26:45] You’ve talked about the impact in the importance of the human element. Can you tell us a little bit about the business benefits of having a mentally healthy workplace in this more open approach to tackling mental health in the workplace.?

 

Patrice: [00:26:58] So if the human case doesn’t grab you I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t but if it doesn’t then just think about how good this could be for your business. I talked at the beginning about some of the cost to business of a poor mental health. So you want your staff at work performing well so you want to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. So by having a mentally healthy workplace, you can really leverage those things but also a mentally healthy workplace is just a great place to work. When you think about the elements that make up a mentally healthy workplace, it’s a good culture. It’s an environment that manage risks and makes sure there’s protective factors in place. It’s just the kind of place that people like coming to and I think the other important thing to say around it from a business perspective is that we’re seeing a real shift in what employers are looking for from their employers, particularly with young employees. Actually even more than that, people are looking to come to work and have a greater sense of purpose. People are looking for environments that support them as a whole person and so I think business owners, who can really harness that, are really going to future proof their business and set themselves up to be able to attract the best and brightest. I think that’s what people are more and more going to be looking for is working in these great environments.

 

Lee: [00:28:20] Are there any workplaces that are doing a particularly good job of this or are there any case studies you can refer to of business that have adopted really innovative or forward thinking approaches to managing mental health?

 

Patrice: [00:28:31] I think often the stories are really the simple things and I think that’s a really important message. You know I’d love to give to the listeners that doesn’t have to be high tech, expensive or a big metamorphosis of your business. A lot of the best things are really simple and I met a couple of guys, who had their own business quite a few years ago. I loved their approach and when they set up their business day, the first thing they did was they got a business coach really early on. The first thing he said to them is, “Hey guys I’ve got news for you, your customers are not the most important thing in your business.” I’m like, ” Really?” He said, “No your staff are. If you genuinely look after your staff then the business will look after itself.” So they started with that being their number one business philosophy. They had a big focus on that and they just had this, there were about 20 people in their business mainly blokes, they just had this incredibly open environment. People came in and talked openly about what was going on in their life. They just had created an environment where people could be really open and they put their staff number one that started doing things like helping their staff come up with goals and then seeing what they could do to help them achieve goals. So one of their staff had just been on his first overseas trip where that all giving him tips and he got the courage to do it. One of them that helped out with a gym program and he lost a whole lot of weight. So that really treated people as whole people. The incredible thing was their business was thriving. So the more they did it, the more they were seeing the business benefits as well. So again it was a win-win because their staff were happy, healthy and wanted to be there and really productive. They were enjoying it. They were making a difference to people’s lives and their business was going gangbusters.

 

Lee: [00:30:20] That is an incredible story and obviously demonstrates the real benefits you can have from having a forward thinking approach to mental health in the workplace.

 

Patrice: [00:30:27] Absolutely and I’m really pleased that you mentioned forward thinking because it is one of the messages I would love to to share. When you go about setting up a new business, most small business owners will do a lot of thinking around they’re planning. What’s the business plan? How are they going to manage various aspects of the business? How are they going to set up their wesite? Run their marketing? What are those kind of things that you think about when you’re setting up a business? Very few from the beginning think about, “What am I going to do if I’m not coping with the demands or the pressures? How am I going to look after myself? The Office of the Victorian Small Business Commissioner have produced this fantastic tool and it sits alongside your business plan. It’s kind of like as a business owner your own well-being plan around and you do it as part of your business planning. It’s available from the Heads Up website. The Victorian Small Business Commissioner’s Office gave us access to it. We’ve made it available on the Heads Up website. I would really encourage any small business owner but particularly those who are early in their business to check it out. Once things start going wrong it can be really hard to then know what to do. If you’ve got a bit of planning around that with your small business network that you might be involved in, your family or friends then people can sort of check in and say, “Hey do we need to enact any part of that plan and support you through it?” You got a plan there and you know what to do. So I think forward planning is really key.

 

Lee: [00:32:04] Patrice, there’s obviously a stack of resources out there and we’ll link to everything in our show notes. For the busy listener can you run through quickly some of the online resources they could access today if they wanted to.

 

Patrice: [00:32:15] Absolutely. So I would just recommend jumping onto the Heads Up website. So headsup.org.au and on the home page there’s an actual tab that says small business so just click on that. Part of the messaging we got is talk to us like small businesses. So we’ve got a really particular focus now on small business. So there’s a whole section that’s purely for small businesses. We think you’ll find some great video case studies where you can hear people just like yourselves who are doing what you’re doing, running your own business and them sharing their stories and their tips. It’s really powerful to hear from someone who’s in the same spot as you. There’s a whole range of other tips, tools and then that will take you into the whole broader Heads Up website, lots of resources around how to have a conversation. As I said earlier there’s a whole lot of a learning modules that you can do so you can teach yourself more about those signs and symptoms. It’s all completely free. There’s things you can order so that you can get brochures, posters and things like that if you want to make things available within your workplace. Sometimes it’s great to have things available for customers as well like we hear from a lot of small business owners like tax agents and bookkeepers for example. They’re a small business themselves and then they’re dealing with other small business owners sometimes at times of stress so can be good to have those resources available for your staff. In some instances for your clients as well.

 

Lee: [00:33:42] Absolutely and Petrie’s we’ve covered so much territory today over a very complex topic. If there was one takeaway that you can give to small business owners who were listening to his podcast what would it be?

 

Patrice: [00:33:53] You know I think it would be that life happens, whether it’s mental health or all the other things that life can throw at it. One of the things I try and do with my staff, as much as I can, is remember when I’m talking to them that I don’t necessarily know what’s going on for them outside of work. As much as we might like people to leave their problems outside of work at the door that doesn’t happen in reality because we are just one person living one life. We bring our whole selves to work. So I think my big tip would be just keep in mind that life is happening for the people who you’re working with. The reason that they might be behaving differently is possibly because of something that’s going on. So just check in on each other. Be good to each other and the benefits of just doing that will be enormous.

 

Lee: [00:34:48] Patrice before I let you go one last question that I ask everybody on the show, what’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received and why?

 

Patrice: [00:34:55] That’s a great question. So I’ve been working at beyondblue for about a bit over a year. My general manager left and so our CEO, the wonderful Georgie Harman, said to me, “Right you’re it. Come on step up and I would like you.” I was like, “Oh I don’t know enough about H.R. or I don’t know much about the budget.” I thought of all the things that I didn’t think I knew enough about. Someone said to me, “We’ve got people here to support you. Use those networks around you.” I did but I felt like I was cheating because I was like the general manager I meant to know. What I found was when I went and asked people that were experts and they really liked sharing their skills with me. The more willing I was to learn the more they help, the better I got at it. The more they kind of responded to me. So it was a big light bulb moment for me is that you don’t have to know everything yourself. Bringing people in and helping them to help you is really meaningful for them. So it’s something that I’ve tried to really remember and make part of the leader that I am. I guess my application of that to small businesses, who may not have that finance team, the I.T. team and the H.R. team is make sure that you build that network around yourself because you can never do it all. So how are you going to have a coach or have a network you’re involved in to get support with those things and how are you going to use the people within your team to learn from that’s actually a real win win.

 

Lee: [00:36:27] I think Patrice that’s wonderful advice. Thanks so much for joining the show today.

 

Patrice: [00:36:32] My pleasure. It was great to be here. Thanks for having me.

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