Supporting staff wellbeing remotely: caring for those who care for others
(Speaking with Karen Shearer)
In 2015 Uniting Country SA identified that the number one risk to the health and safety of their employees was psychological injury. This was both due to the nature of working with very vulnerable people in crisis and working across large geographical areas with small teams.
HR Manager, Karen Shearer reached out to Let’s Talk’s Karen Marshman to discuss how her remote staff could be better supported. Karen Marshman had previously been a CEO of a NFP with a background in psychology running prevention programs with lawyers, and other workplaces. Both individuals were passionate about caring for people who care for others, and a model and resources were created that developed all staff skills in self-management, wellbeing and resilience and peer response.
To sustain internal capability, internal staff were recruited to a volunteer role of Wellbeing Ambassadors and trained in responding to, supporting and advocating for staff mental health. The results were incredible with measurable increases in wellbeing, wellbeing management and reduction in risks which have been sustained over time.
When COVID hit, the investment in the psychological infrastructure that had been put in place carried the challenges of the times, became relevant to all organisations and shows what a remote support model can achieve.
This case study session will include:
- How to build internal, ongoing skills and capacity to care of staff
- Aframework for a ‘contact officer’ role with substance, skills and leadership
- A structure and model that responds to ongoing and changing needs, remoteness, diversity, Covid
- How to skill up staff beyond emergency mental health management, for preventative and multi-faceted mental health leadership
- How to build in cultural ‘north stars’ in resilience such as ‘taking our cape off’ sometimes and identifying as an organisation where you mentally need to ‘bend your knees before lifting’.
Karen Marshman has over 25 years experience in the field of positive psychology. Early in her career, she established and expanded Youth Opportunities across disadvantaged South Australia schools -an organisation that was national winner of the Prime Minister’s Community Awards for its achievement with youth outcomes and its partnerships in the community. She understood the importance of power intervention, and the challenges of the NFP work.
Karen’s organisation Let’s Talk now helps organisations to care for their staff. Her organisation has been on various government training provider panels and implemented training and services across a wide range of industries, from white collar, medical, national retailers, NFPs and NGOs, including longstanding partnerships with Oxfam, Coles and as Bupa training provider via En Masse for diverse range of Bupa clients.
She has been on a number of NFP boards, including currently a board member of PANDA, the national mental health line for parents, including as Chair of Governance Committee. She is a regular conference speaker including medical conferences and insurers, such as ComCare.