How To Boost Workplace Wellness This Winter

Winter wellness – it’s all about rugging up warm, getting that flu jab and staying home from work if you’re unwell, right? Well, that’s part of it.

But have you thought about how you’ll care for the mental wellness of your team this winter – particularly at work?

Deadlines, demanding customers, COVID-19 worries, long hours, remote working – the list of things that can knock our wellbeing at work is endless. And the long, grey winter months can make it all feel so much worse. But improving our mental wellbeing is priceless.

So, how can you ensure you are being an ethical leader and creating an environment of winter workplace wellness? Read on to find out.

How To Boost Workplace Wellness This Winter

Why Workplace Wellness?

Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. There’s evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. According to WorkSafe NZ, focusing on mental health in the workplace is essential because:

  1. It’s good for business. When people are happy in their environment, they are more productive, take less sick leave, and are more likely to remain in their jobs for longer.
  2. It’s a legal obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act (which is as much about mental health as physical health!)
  3. It’s a moral and ethical obligation for all of us to do the right thing by one another.

Workplace wellness creates a better working environment for everyone, so it becomes a pleasure to be at work despite the dreary weather outside!

Navigating The Winter Blues

The winter blues are a well-known phenomenon. They are most heavily felt throughout the workplace. As the temperature drops and the weather worsens, it is harder to get those sunlight hours that our bodies desperately crave.

As a manager, it is your responsibility to acknowledge that your team may be feeling those winter blues and have a plan to combat their impact as much as possible. One of the easiest ways to do that is to regularly check in with your team – individually and in a group setting.

Encourage open lines of communication so that your team can discuss issues or problems they are facing, have constructive conversations so that they can build resilience, and develop perseverance.

A Guide To Improving Mental Wellbeing In The Workplace

Here at Spice HR, we believe that good mental wellbeing at work is crucial, which is why we support the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by New Zealand’s Mental Health Foundation.

Whilst these are general principles, they can be practically applied in the workplace. Here are the five areas your team should focus on for great workplace wellness this winter:

  1. Connect

Listen and talk, be present, feel connected. Speak up when you need to, and listen to others. Keep the communication lines open by encouraging discussion

2. Give

Give your time, knowledge, and presence – an essential part of connecting!

3. Take notice

Recognise the good things that your team are doing and the things that spark their creativity and joy. Even the little things count. Appreciate them!

4. Keep Learning

Embrace new experiences, see development opportunities, and provide ongoing learning experiences for your team members.

5. Be Active

Encourage your team to keep active throughout the day even if their role requires them to be at a desk. Do what you can, help them enjoy what they do, and don’t forget to move your mood and your body! Just move – no matter how you do it!

Here at Spice HR, we think that number 1 is particularly crucial: Connect. Many struggling with mental wellbeing try to hide their feelings, afraid of other people’s responses. If you create workplace cultures where people can be themselves, they will speak more freely about mental health concerns and reach out for help when needed. It all comes down to open lines of communication.

Are You An Ethical Leader?

Part of supporting good mental health in the winter workplace is ensuring you behave like an ethical leader. That means taking the time to build a healthy workplace environment for all of your team members.

Ethical leaders tend to choose people over financial reward. While economic growth is essential for many businesses, you will struggle to achieve your goals if you don’t have the buy-in of your people. That means balancing your decision-making to ensure you are doing the right thing by your employees and doing what is best for the business.

There are plenty of ways you can do this. But ultimately, it comes down to creating an environment in which people want to work. An environment that embraces excellent communication. One where people’s opinions and ideas are respected, management show transparency and shares information, and staff feel heard.

Ensuring your team leaders and management have a sense of empathy is vital to supporting their staff appropriately.

Ready To Spice Up Your Workplace Wellness?

Achieving great workplace wellness can be challenging at any time of the year, yet that challenge increases significantly during the winter months.

Need more guidance to improve mental wellbeing in your workplace? Reach out to the Spice Gals!

Spice HR support small and medium businesses who need help getting HR frameworks in place – and we love helping businesses boost staff wellbeing.

So: stop right now, thank you very much – and drop us a line!

How to Keep On Top Of Health and Safety at Work

 

With a recent move back to Red, and confirmation that the dreaded Omicron has arrived in NZ, it’s time to revisit your Health and Safety guidelines to make sure you’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s.

Health and safety at work has sure got more complicated over the last few years. But as we try to settle into the new normal  it could be time to get back to basics.

If some of your health and safety tasks disappeared off your radar as you dealt with a million other things, you’re forgiven. We’ve all been rather busy just trying to stay afloat. But health and safety at work isn’t something that should be neglected, especially now.

Health and safety at work can feel like an overwhelming task, but really, it’s not so daunting if you take it one step at a time.

Let’s help you get back on track by going through some of the basic checks you need to do to get health and safety sorted at your workplace.

How To Keep On Top Of Health and Safety at Work

Stay On Top Of The Rule Changes

So much has changed over the last few years, and it may feel like the rules evolve every couple of weeks, but one thing has not changed – and that’s your obligation to provide a safe work environment for your employees.

Granted, that may be more complicated than it used to be, but the law is still the law, and there’s no excuse for failing to comply with it.

As such, it’s vital for employers to know the latest rules around COVID-19 for their specific industry and business.

Make sure you get clear on PPE guidelines and regulations at different traffic light levels, and be proactive about reaching out for advice if you’re confused.

There are plenty of great websites out there packed full of information. Here are some excellent resources to get stuck into if you need a little extra insight:

Addressing health and safety concerns

Employment New Zealand’s guide for workers at different COVID-10 alert levels

Vaccinations and work – Unite against COVID-19

Managing health and safety – Worksafe

Health and safety during COVID-19

Get Your Docs Up To Date

We know that paperwork is not everyone’s favourite thing, but it is an essential part of effectively managing health and safety at work.

While the law doesn’t specifically say you must have H&S documents, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 does require you to take all reasonable steps to provide a safe working environment for your staff – and your documentation is a key part to being able to show that’s just what you’re doing.

This also means communicating effectively and keeping everyone informed, and if your docs aren’t up to date, they’re not going to do the job. So now’s the time to review your policies, info sheets, signs, flowcharts, and procedures to ensure they are updated, clear, relevant and accessible to your entire team.

For guidance on writing H&S documents, check out this great resource from Worksafe NZ:

Writing for Health and Safety 

Train Your Staff

Staff training is an essential factor in taking care of your employees’ health and safety at work. This is stated in the H&S in Employment Act, which states that you must ensure your workers have the appropriate knowledge and experience to do their job.

Training your staff in health and safety isn’t just about ticking the boxes, though. Equipping your team with the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs safely and effectively reduces workplace accidents and injuries, enhances productivity, boosts morale, and saves your business money in the long run.

If your H&S training has fallen through the cracks, this is the perfect time to get to it!

Be Mindful Of Mental Health

Health and safety at work isn’t just about eliminating or minimising the risk of physical harm. Employers must also take steps to support and manage their employees’ mental health.

Many people are experiencing increased anxiety over returning to on-site work, so it’s crucial that organisations prioritise psychological safety alongside physical safety in the workplace.

As you welcome your employees back to on-site work, find ways to help build resilience, create wellbeing, add flexibility into their routines, and provide resources to those who need extra support.

Our blog Let’s Talk Mental Wellness at Work has lots of spicey info and valuable resources if you’d like to know more about supporting mental wellness in the workplace.

 

Feeling a tad overwhelmed about health and safety in covid times?

Never fear; the Spice HR team is here. We can help you get your head around workplace H&S and find your new normal. Get in touch today to find out more.

Beginning A Different Kind of New Year

New years roll around at an alarming pace.

The year only just seems to start and then before you know it, you are singing Auld Lang Syne, raising a glass, reviewing the year that has been and preparing your business for another trip around the sun.  

But this new year feels unlike the others we have experienced before. 

2021 was meant to be our fresh start after a rather trying 2020. Then, it pulled a total fast one on us and turned out to be worse!  

So, as we cautiously begin 2022, we have none of the lofty ambitions of last year. This will not be our year to return to life as it was before COVID. 

This will be a different kind of new year. But, we are no less optimistic about it! 

Let’s explore how you can make the most of another uncertain new year and prepare your team for the next 12 months. 

 

Beginning A Different Kind Of New Year 

Acknowledge The Year That Was 

It is pretty tempting to sweep the events of 2021 under the rug and pretend that they didn’t happen. Not only were we dealing with potential threats to our health, but we all had an additional layer of stress created by working from home. Juggling home schooling, the endless quest for uninterrupted work time, worries about job security and toilet paper shortages were no joke! 

So, now is the time to congratulate your whole team for making it out the other side. 

Look back on the year and celebrate the things that went well. Thank your team for their dedication in tough times and congratulate yourselves for making it work. While the year was hard, it taught many businesses that work conditions could be flexible. Now, we can continue that flexibility and use it to our advantage. Allowing your team to continue embracing flexible hours and working locations where practical, will be a great morale booster. 

 

Maintaining Mindset 

All the stresses of the last two years might have had a negative impact on your staff morale. And when morale is low, so too is productivity and output.  

Helping your team maintain a positive mindset despite everything that has happened is an essential new year task. The right mindset will boost productivity, increase employee engagement, and help to retain valuable team members. 

With a new protection framework now in place, we should hopefully see fewer disruptions to life and business operations. So, capitalise on that positivity by allowing your team to work when they are most productive.  

Physical safety has been a huge focus in the last two years and we have the masks and hand sanitiser to prove it. But, mental wellbeing and safety are just as important. Help your team manage their schedules to prevent burnout, connect with each individual to check how they are coping, and encourage the whole team to take their breaks and holidays. 

 

Keep The Comms Flowing 

Your team have dealt with a lot of uncertainty lately and we are not out of the woods yet. It would appear COVID is here to stay, so make sure you are communicating well and often with your team. 

Give them as much information as you possibly can as this will reduce some stress and build an important level of trust. While targets might move, dates might change and the goalposts might shift, your team will appreciate the transparency of regular updates and receiving up to date information. 

By establishing open lines of communication from your side, your team will also feel as though they can share concerns or suggestions they might have. This allows them to feel as if they have some control over an uncertain situation. Of course, that will only mean good things for their overall morale! 

 

Unifying Under A Collective Vision 

No one can possibly predict what will happen this year, the last two years have certainly proven that! Yet, you can establish a vision for how you want your business to operate, the characteristics you value and the impact you want to make. 

By creating this vision, you are providing your whole team with a roadmap for the year. While there might be some unexpected potholes to navigate or bridges to build, the end destination remains the same. 

By unifying your team under a collective vision they will feel valued, important and part of something bigger than just themselves. It will help you all to move forward and stay optimistic, regardless of what the year might bring. 

 

Make Time for Fun 

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is easy for work and home life to feel very serious. With restrictions to adhere to, daily news reports to read, mandates to follow and ever-increasing stress levels, things can get negative quickly. 

But, they really don’t have to. Just because there is some serious stuff going on in the outside world, it doesn’t mean your team can’t make time for fun.  

Connecting with each other in a social way can lighten the mood and build a great team culture. Whether you choose to have a monthly quiz night over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, a picnic in the park with the cricket bat and beverages, or a family friendly game of Never Have I Ever, your team will be able to blow off steam and connect. 

Laughter is the best medicine, so keep things fun and lighthearted where appropriate. 

 

Looking Ahead 

Rather than looking back on everything you have been through, look forward towards the amazing things you could achieve this year. That will keep your whole team focused on the future and optimistic about what the year will bring. 

While things might remain uncertain, you can keep your team moving forward and unified under a clear vision and collective goals. This will ensure they maintain a positive mindset and together you can overcome any future challenges. 

Want some more practical ways to maintain great staff morale during a very different kind of new year? Then we can help you do it. Full of Spice and practical, actionable strategies, our team will help your team remain strong in the year ahead. Contact us today 

Let’s Talk Mental Wellness at Work

Mental wellness at work

How are you doing out there, Spicey people?

It’s been quite the ride in the last 18 months. Although it may feel like we are over the worst of the loop-de-loops, there’s still a way to go yet. We need to stay buckled in for a bit longer.

But it’s important to acknowledge that some of us are exhausted. The constant uncertainty, disruption and worry of the last year has taken its toll.

On top of that, the gloomy winter months are upon us, which can impact your mind set. You may feel like it is harder to be motivated and the dreary weather can even worsen feelings of depression or anxiety.

As employers and managers, it’s vital to have a handle on how your people are coping. Supporting your employees’ mental wellbeing is not just good for business; it’s part of your responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

This month, we are coming together to discuss mental wellbeing at work. We want to help empower you to take care of yourself and your people. So, let’s talk mental wellness at work.

Let’s Talk Mental Wellness at Work

Be Mindful of Change

Change is hard to navigate for most of us, and there has been a ton of it over the last year – most of it out of our control.

Bear this in mind when planning ahead in your business. Remember that people are worn out from adapting and adjusting to change. If you want to make changes in your business, try to introduce them gradually, not all at the same time.

Involve your employees in decisions where possible, and ensure you have a solid plan of how to communicate the changes to your team. Which brings us to the next point…

Prioritise Effective Communication

Stress often occurs when people don’t know what’s going to happen, and there’s been a lot of that going on lately! To help your staff fret less about the future, keep them well-informed about the present.

Be as transparent as possible, do your best to let people know what’s coming up and what they will need to do.

Make mental health a common talking point within your organisation. Discuss emotional wellbeing often and ensure all your employees are aware of the support and resources available to them.

Encourage Empathy Among Your Leaders

Empathy is a vital component of effective communication, particularly with regards to mental health. Empower your managers to be genuinely empathetic when communicating with employees. That means being a caring and effective listener while providing any support that the team needs.

Create Opportunities to Connect

Having a supportive, positive workplace culture can make all the difference for your employees. Encourage initiatives that nurture connection – something that may require more effort if some or all of your team members work remotely.

Organise real or virtual social events, set up group message boards, or use apps to keep your people connected. Check in regularly with them one-on-one to find out how they’re doing, too.

Create A Safe, Supportive Work Environment

Make your workplace a safe place for people to be, and encourage open and honest discussions around mental health.

This means zero tolerance of bullying or discrimination, creating a sense of value and purpose for employees, and actively working to improve work relationships at all levels.

Ensure there are mental health resources available for those who need them, such as employee assistance programs.

Build Awareness and Understanding

The more you learn about mental wellbeing, the better equipped you are to develop practises and techniques to keep yourself healthy and support your team.

Thankfully, the topic of mental health is being discussed more openly, and there are plenty of ways to broaden your understanding.

Jacqui Maguire is one of New Zealand’s most well-known mental health thought leaders. She’s a fantastic person to follow on social media for insight and practical tips. She also hosts a thought-provoking podcast called Mind Brew. Focused on mental health and wellbeing, this series is well worth tuning into.

Actively Support Positive Mental Wellness at Work

Make sure you walk the walk when it comes to mental wellbeing. There are loads of initiatives that you could implement to support mental health, such as:

  • Flexible work policies
  • Bring a pet to work days
  • Group exercise opportunities/classes
  • Mindfulness programs
  • Healthy food options at work or work functions
  • Standing desks
  • Workplace massage
  • Stress management education
  • Encourage staff to take mental health days when needed

Make Use of Your Resources

So many fantastic, experienced organisations have put a lot of work into mental wellness, producing tons of valuable resources to browse through online.

New Zealand’s own Mental Health Foundation has created one such resource. It outlines the Five Ways to Wellbeing – a collection of actions to support people in difficult times. Here’s a summary of their advice, which can be applied to individuals, families, communities, and organisations.

  1. Connect

Relationships and positive social interactions are vital for building a sense of connection and security.

  1. Give

Research has proven that kindness – to ourselves and others – can boost feelings of contentment and happiness. Sharing skills, resources, and our time with those around us can promote mental wellbeing.

  1. Take notice

Anxiety, stress and depression are often closely tied to our thoughts and worries about the future. Paying attention to the present moment and observing our thoughts and feelings can help.

  1. Keep learning

Having goals for the future, working towards something positive, and embracing new experiences are all essential for us to thrive.

  1. Be active

Physical activity is scientifically proven to reduce stress, depression and anxiety. Movement is a vital part of mental wellbeing.

We highly recommend downloading this comprehensive COVID-19 Workplaces Resources PDF from the Mental Health Foundation that discusses how to manage the challenges of COVID-19 in the workplace with a strong focus on mental wellbeing.

All Right is a website packed full of useful information, insights and tips that apply to the workplace.

Worksafe NZ is another excellent hub with a comprehensive list of resources related to stress, wellbeing, work, and the coronavirus.

And of course, we Spice Gals are ready to step in to provide any HR support that your organisation might require. So, reach out to us today if you have any queries regarding the all important topic of mental wellness at work.

Christmas Parties – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!

Love them or hate them, work Christmas parties are an important part of the end of year festivities. Often, they turn out to be some of the most memorable occasions of the year. Though not always for the right reasons. Office parties are infamous – both in movies and real life – for being the scene of scandals and hijinks that turn into office gossip well into the new year.

They don’t have to be that way. There are many options for end of year celebrations that don’t result in hangovers and photocopying random body parts!

An office party is a great occasion to relax a little, give thanks to your team for a great year and relate to one another as people, not just colleagues. It doesn’t have to get messy or downright damaging. Approached correctly and planned well, everyone can enjoy a work Christmas party with just the right amount of spice!

Let’s dive right in and holler at the good, the bad and the ugly side of work Christmas parties!

 

Christmas Parties – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Good

Don’t underestimate the importance of hosting an end of year gathering for your team, even if it is just a beach-side BBQ or a bowling night.

A Christmas party is the perfect way to celebrate and acknowledge the year of hard work that has been put in by every employee. It wraps the year up on a positive note and motivates staff to bigger and better achievements for the coming year!

But it is not just about a celebration. Giving your team a chance to socially mingle out of the office environment helps to build strong team relationships. It gives managers a chance to see their employees in a different light, and shows employees that their managers are real people too.

To keep it a positive experience, plan a celebration that the majority of your team will enjoy. Get creative about what you could do – painting artwork, rock climbing, a city scavenger hunt, an exotic cuisine, or even an escape room. Keep in mind the capabilities of your team members, you don’t want to choose something that will isolate certain people.

Recognition, rewards, and the chance for some fun will build staff engagement, loyalty and create a fantastic work culture.

 

The Bad

As much as you want to be all about fun and positivity, there is no denying that work parties can be dangerous territory. The mixture of alcohol and the chance to drop some of those rigid office personas may come with some unwanted side effects.

In advance of any festivities, make it clear to your team that the same standards of behaviour are expected at office functions as within the workplace.

It’s important to remind your employees ahead of time that sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, drugs, and health and safety policies are still in place and they need to keep these things in mind. In fact, it may be a great idea to do some refresher training on some of these issues before the silly season hits.

At the same time, set everyone up for success. If you are serving alcohol, make sure consumption is closely monitored and provide healthy and hearty food to soak it all up. Make sure you provide non-alcoholic options and lots of water to keep things under control.

Arrange for transport options or encourage carpooling with a sober driver on the day of the event. Be a responsible host, as you would with any party.

 

The Ugly

With the correct planning and foresight, it doesn’t have to get ugly! When planning your Christmas party, put some thought into the kind of team you have, the culture within the team, and what event is best suited to encourage team building for a great night out – without any nasty hangovers of any kind.

If things do start to get out of hand, ensure any undesirable behaviour is dealt with swiftly and appropriately. It is also really important to follow up with any problem team members when you are back to work after the event. Take any disciplinary measures required. Just because it is a Christmas party, it doesn’t mean there is a free pass for rule breaking!

One final spicey thought… don’t forget to add one or two classic Spice Girls tracks to your dance playlist – we guarantee there are a few closet fans who will love it, or at the very least, people can bond while complaining about the music!

 

If you have any concerns about the HR aspect of planning your end of year function, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Spice HR. We are happy to help you nail the red tape side of things!

What Is Your HR Data Telling You About Your Business?

Data. Many people think of it as numbers that someone rapidly types into a spreadsheet and then uses a complicated formula to calculate something.

But data comes in many forms. Including HR data. That is data that you can use practically in your business to tweak processes, increase staff morale and look after your people better.

We tend to think that if the Spice Girl’s management team had spent more time analysing their HR data, the band would not only still be together today, they would have a level of success to rival the Beatles…

Okay, maybe not. BUT they may have been able to stretch the gig out a little longer, keep their most talented members – ahem, yes, there were a couple! – from jumping ship early and had a much more positive team culture.

How are the Spice Girls relevant to your business? Well, HR is so much more than just crunching numbers, dealing with disputes and endless piles of paperwork. In fact, HR analysis is a rapidly growing field of expertise that modern, successful businesses are using to their advantage.

Let’s look into how you can use this data in your business.

What Is HR Data And How Can You Use It?

There is plenty of useful information in your HR functions if you know where to look for it. Using the data you collect from performance reviews, exit interviews, training information, staff satisfaction surveys, staff retention and even sick days, you can make smart decisions that add immense value to your business.

HR data collection is not a new thing, but utilising it effectively – if at all – is a relatively recent advancement. It is all well and good conducting exit interviews and monitoring sick days, but what is the point if you don’t use that information? It’s like buying a rack full of spices to improve your cooking and leaving them sitting in the back of the cupboard.

The key to using this information to drive success is knowing what to look for. Is there a specific issue or question you want an answer to? Do you want to know how to reduce absenteeism, evaluate staff training, or predict which new hires are going to stay the distance? HR professionals can nail down the questions, use the freshly gained or existing data to do all of these things and more.

Here are just three things your HR data will tell you if you know how to ask:

How To Retain Your Top Talent

Does your data suggest that once your employees become proficient at their jobs and reach a certain level, they will leave? Then it is time to dig a little deeper to find out WHY this happens. Then you come up with solutions to keep your top achievers on board, such as more opportunities and training, or a better work environment.

You will only find out the reason for their departure by asking them. We suggest conducting an exit interview with each team member that leaves the company. Not all will be leaving because of the happenings at your business, some will leave for personal reasons. But, you can find out a lot about the culture, processes, work environment and available resources by asking people their opinions.

 

How To Keep Your Employees Happy

Everyone knows that a happy employee is a productive, loyal employee. Do you really know if your top performers are satisfied with their work?

If not, find out. You can look at absentee rates between departments or individuals, assess who your most efficient team members are, then use those insights to make improvements. The bonus of a happy workforce is staff retention, which saves big money on recruitment and increases efficiency.

You can also ask your team to answer some survey questions. To find their true feelings, you can make it anonymous. You just need to ensure that you are asking the right questions to get the targeted data that you need.

 

Assess Performance

Did Posh Spice work harder than Baby Spice? Did Sporty bring in more money than Ginger?

They are important questions to ponder within your own team. If you know which employees work faster and produce a higher quality of work, you can aim to replicate that productivity across the board. A key thing to understand is, what is making them so much more efficient than the rest of the team?

Once you understand that, you can act accordingly. It might mean offering further training for underperformers, boosting staff morale, offering flexible working conditions, team building, or any number of other things.

 

If you would love to access the hidden gems in your HR data but you aren’t sure where to start, then give us a call here at Spice HR. We can help you sift through the information and boost business at your place. Get in touch today.

Stop. Collaborate and Listen …

 

Stop.  Collaborate and Listen … Spice is back with a brand new invention.

Got an HR problem yo, we’ll solve it. Check out our skills while the Spice Gals resolve it!

Spice, Spice baby!

Listening is Everything

Listening in Orange

 

The art of listening is a learned skillset that can have a tremendous impact on your work environment.  It will ensure you actually hear when your staff tell you what they want, what they really, really want!

Call the Spice Gals today to spice up your listening life – if you really, really, really wanna zig-a-zig-ah!

Keep the glass houses for tomatoes!

stone throwing

To ensure everyone knows your workplace policies contact us.  We’ve got some nifty ideas to help you document and socialise your rules and expectations so that all your staff are on the same page.