In the lead up to the WayAhead Workplaces Annual Members' Forum later this month, we got in touch with our speakers to ask them their thoughts on workplace wellbeing. Here is our conversation with Katherine Winlaw, the Manager of Workforce Strategy from Queensland Public Service Commission.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR WORK ON WORKPLACE WELLBEING
Working with a diverse group of leaders to set a progressive wellbeing agenda for Queensland’s largest most diverse employer, the public sector has been a great experience. The Be healthy, be safe, be well framework is a shared vision that has engendered the commitment of sector leaders to creating healthy and safe workplaces where people thrive. Knowing that we have an opportunity to not only improve the health and wellbeing of 250,000 employees, but their families and communities is exciting.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WORKDAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I work flexibly so no two days are ever the same. I work 4 days part-time for the Public Service Commission (PSC) and 1 day for myself as an Art Psychotherapist. Working in a central agency like the PSC can see me either working with a cross agency working group on a sector project, such as the Recovery at Work Pilot or providing a presentation to another agency or group pf HR professionals on the future of work or the Be healthy, be safe, be well framework. Otherwise I can be found collaborating with staff from across the PSC to ensure our workforce strategies are coordinated and having the real impact they intend to.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES OF YOUR WORK?
Getting the message out there to managers and leaders that work when well designed is good for people’s health and wellbeing and that focusing on prevention and promotion can have a much better return for their investment.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST EXPERIENCE WORKING ON EMPLOYEE WELLBEING INITIATIVES AND RESEARCH?
I am passionate about the holistic benefits of mindfulness and years ago in another role I started a Mindful Mondays in May series followed by Mindful leadership workshops for all staff. Many staff who participated found it worthwhile and saw it as an example of how the organisation really valued them. Four years on a group of staff continue to sustain the mindful Monday practices.
WHAT ARE THE MOST EXCITING IMPROVEMENTS IN MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE HAVE YOU SEEN SINCE YOU STARTED WORKING IN THE SECTOR?
Most definitely the conversations that are taking place. The willingness of so many people including senior leaders to openly share stories of their own mental health challenges in order to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and encourage early help seeking behaviours.
WHAT CAN WORKPLACES DO TO BETTER SUPPORT THEIR EMPLOYEES’ WELLBEING?
Respect and treat every single employee as a whole person. Recognise that employees come to work in order to live a good life with those they love and contribute to something meaningful. They have a whole life outside work that can impact on their wellbeing and taking the time to understand that individual and what motivates them, what they value and what things outside work are impacting on them can make a world of difference to their wellbeing.
HOW DO YOU SWITCH OFF FROM WORK?
I disconnect from work when I leave work, on my day off I don’t check emails at all.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH STRESS?
A lot better than I used to. This is thanks to a daily kundalini yoga practice every morning for the past 1235 days (not that anyone is counting!).As often as I can I meditate and build in recovery time throughout the year in short breaks.
You can hear more from Katherine Winlaw at the WayAhead Annual Workplaces Members' Forum on Friday 22nd of July.
Non-members are welcome to attend; please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.