Back row Karen Haywood, Director Human Resources; Ali Wilson, Safety Health and Wellbeing (SHW) Health Support Coordinator; Adrian Cuenca, SHW Health Support Coordinator; James Parsons SHW Health Support Coordinator
Front row Maggie Baker, HR Partner; Tessie Phan, SHW Operations and Project Manager, Justine Cantley, SHW Manager Staff Health Support, Julia Cohen, Director Safety Health and Wellbeing.
Our team is made up of allied health and safety specialists
University of Sydney - Safety Health and Wellbeing
What are you/your organisation currently focussing on in terms of workplace health and wellbeing?
Our overall objective is to create a positive safety culture that enables our people to thrive and realise their full potential as part of a healthy and engaged community. We have prioritised a number of areas for focussed attention including an integrated approach to health and wellbeing and establishing an environment where purposeful psychological wellbeing is integrated and supports our cultural aspirations.
Wellbeing at Sydney involves promoting initiatives that help us to engage in meaningful work, address workplace factors that may negatively impact wellbeing and provide opportunities for staff to learn about and/or practice healthy lifestyle choices at work.
What aspect of workplace health and wellbeing does your organisation do well in?
Winners – 2018 SafeWork NSW Awards (Pictured)
We are very honoured to have recently been recognised for the work to support our staff at the University.
Our Staff Health Support program, recently won the Excellence in Recovery at Work award at the 2018 NSW SafeWork Awards. This achievement places Sydney at the top of the industry in supporting its employees during times of need. It also recognises the outstanding and innovative efforts of the Staff Health Support team, led by Justine Sarin, over the past 12 months.
Looking after and supporting our staff is our priority to ensure everyone can be the best they can be whilst at work. We are very proud of the fact that we provide services to assist employees who are injured whilst in the course of their employment, but also those who may be dealing with a personal health issue.
- Evidence shows that getting back to work early is an important part of the recovery from injury. Long-term absence from work can lead to isolation and poorer health.
We help staff realise they don’t need to be 100 percent recovered to return to work. There is a range of options to ease the transition, such as reduced hours in their normal job, or modified or alternative duties.
- Staff Health Support helps with the process. We help staff make an early, safe and smooth transition back into their normal workplace after an injury.
We do this by liaising with the injured staff, their manager, doctor and healthcare providers to determine their work capacity and then develop a return-to-work plan.
What’s your biggest challenge working in workplace health and wellbeing?
The University of Sydney is a large, complex and diverse workplace – in fact the postcode, 2006, is ours alone! As well as being so large, we have all of the challenges associated with being globally focussed, in a highly competitive industry. Academics work extraordinarily hard and sometimes put their own health at risk in order to achieve the outcomes of their research.
We aim to implement specific, relevant and meaningful strategies for all our Academic and Professional staff across the many Faculties and Portfolios over our many campuses.
Having a Wellbeing Champion network across the organisation has been fundamental to developing targeted initiatives and engaging our staff.
Wellbeing requires a multipronged approach. As we know it’s not one size fits all.
How does Way Ahead Workplaces add value to your organisations health and wellbeing program?
WayAhead Workplaces is a fabulous network and in our view it “punches well above its weight” for such a small organisation. We use WayAhead to network with workplaces outside the tertiary education sector and share ideas and insights with other thought-leaders in workplace wellbeing. We really value what we can learn from other members.
WayAhead gives us the chance to see how the research, sometimes of our academics is applied in workplaces other than our own. WayAhead provides access to a comprehensive range of health and wellbeing data, resources and expert advice. Apart from online resources there is that personal touch of always having direct contact with supportive, knowledgeable WayAhead staff.
How do you deal with stress?
The University is working hard to build a positive culture of inclusion, embrace diversity, provide flexible work practices and opportunities for personal and professional development. Because of our large size and highly varied workforce, we also work hard to develop efficient systems and build social connections.
As an organisation we acknowledge stress and mental ill health exists without medicalising it. We offer evidence-based programs that aims to promote protective factors at the team and organisational level.
What are the key issues and considerations for people in workplace health and wellbeing roles?
Think strategically, be bold, understand your people and know your risk profile including where your hotspots are. Leverage information from data you already have and rely on lead not lag indicators.
Individually build your networks, connect with people and learn to switch off.
It’s critical to embed safety and wellbeing as a core capability for leaders. Work with your HR colleagues to develop a coordinated approach.
How do you switch off from work?
We practice what we preach. We all work from home once per week, or whenever suits, allowing for more time to pursue other interests.
Other things our team members do are:
- Take walks during the day
- Take the time to appreciate something every day
- Engage in regular exercise
- Read a book
- Keep bees
- Surf and sail
What is your best time saving tip?
To go faster slow down, prioritise and deal with what is most important. Respond rather than react and keep things in perspective.
What do you think the future of work health and wellness programs look like?
The future of work health and wellness programs will hopefully be integrated into the whole workplace, and not just left to the domain of safety or HR team. This means that leadership competencies will include capability to support wellness in teams and workforces. Future workplace wellness programs will be more digital, and app based. In the future, flexibility in the way we work will become normal.
Supporting everyone with the opportunity to choose how they can be well at work.