Now more than ever, it is important for business leaders to promote and protect the health and wellbeing of their staff, as well as look after their own health.
Healthy Workplaces SA
A new Healthy Workplaces SA website, launched October 2020, provides a one-stop-shop for South Australian workers and employers seeking information and practical tools to support health and wellbeing in the workplace.
This includes audit and planning tools and information on a range of training and events available for employees and employers.
This is an initiative of the Collaborative Partnership for Workplace Health and Wellbeing in South Australia, an alliance of government, industry, statutory insurers, academics and industrial bodies. Their goal is a coordinated response to improve workplace health and wellbeing across the state.
As leaders, there is a lot you can do to support your team to keep healthy and safe during COVID-19.
Supporting staff working from home
People need to feel supported, informed and connected when working remotely. To combat feelings of isolation, anxiety and uncertainty, communicate with your team regularly and show genuine compassion and kindness. This will assist staff to continue to work effectively and productively.
For more tips, check out the Wellbeing SA Fact Sheet 5 ways to support people working from home.
Supporting staff returning to their usual place of work
ReturnToWorkSA, Business SA and Wellbeing SA have worked together to develop an informative checklist to help managers prioritise the health and wellbeing of staff returning to the workplace. This resource can help you identify areas within leadership, consultation and communication, healthy habits and mental health hazards which your organisation may need support with and points you to resources and tools which can support you.
Supporting staff working in their usual place of work
If your business is still operating “as usual”, it is important to put measures in place to protect your staff from COVID-19. Shared spaces need to be regularly cleaned and disinfected and people should practice good hygiene and physical distancing.
Leaders are also encouraged to regularly check in with staff. Some people may be feeling anxious about undertaking their normal duties if they feel it is putting them at risk. Burnout and fatigue are also a risk for staff if work hours have increased. You can help by monitoring workloads and encouraging regular breaks where possible.
If some of your workforce have had hours reduced or have been temporarily stood down, keep in touch with people and look out for any signs of distress. Connect your staff to free support services that are available for South Australian's during this time.
Protecting vulnerable people at work
Some individuals are more at risk of becoming seriously ill if they are exposed to COVID-19. It is important to consider these staff members and ways to minimise the risk to them. Vulnerable people include those aged 70 years and older; people 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions; people with compromised immune systems; and Aboriginal People.
Developing a workplace health and wellbeing plan
If you don’t already have a workplace health and wellbeing plan or strategy, now might be a good time to develop one that can continue beyond COVID-19. The SA Health “Workplace Health and Wellbeing Toolkit” is a useful guide to help you develop a plan for your workplace.
Some key things to consider:
- Speak with staff about their priorities for their own wellbeing and how your workplace can support them.
- Include a mix of actions that address the physical work environment, your business’ policies and business plans, and programs and services for your staff.
- Provide staff with resources and services, including your workplace Employee Assistance Program (if you have one), the SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line, Regional Access for those living in rural communities, Beyond Blue and Lifeline.
- SA Public Sector agencies can access the SA Public Sector Mentally Healthy Workplaces Framework and Mentally Healthy Workplaces Toolkit which draws on world-leading research to guide the creation of mentally healthy workplaces across the SA Public Sector.
Support for SA businesses
The Australian and SA Governments have announced a range of economic supports for businesses at this time. Visit SA Government COVID-19 for information about what financial supports are available for SA Businesses.
The SA Health COVID-19 website contains health-specific information for business and industry including the range of measures in place to protect the health and wellbeing of all South Australians and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
SafeWork SA offers a free advisory service to all SA Businesses. You can request a visit from a SafeWork SA advisor who can provide practical advice based on your workplace's industry, size, risk and complexity to manage the risks associated with COVID-19. SafeWork SA advisors can help you understand your work health and safety responsibilities as well as provide practical support to improve your systems, practices and your general approach to safety.
Safe Work Australia provides work health and safety (WHS) information on managing the risks associated from COVID-19 in the workplace. Their website includes employer responsibilities, industry specific information and a COVID-19 resource kit for businesses.
Business SA provides free advice and support to peak industry bodies and associations in addressing workplace health and wellbeing across their industry. This service is funded by Wellbeing SA.
The way we live and work has changed so much in recent times. Whether you are now working from home (and in some cases, also balancing parenting/caring responsibilities) or working at your usual place of work, you need to look after your physical and mental wellbeing now more than ever.
Looking after your wellbeing at work
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance by managing your work hours and taking regular breaks throughout the day.
- Stay connected with your work colleagues and manager.
- Keep a healthy lifestyle by eating well, staying active, limiting alcohol consumption, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep.
- Limit your media intake and only use trusted sources of information.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.
Working from home
Working from home on a regular basis has many benefits but can also present its challenges. It is important to ensure you are prepared and equipped to work from home.
Here are some quick tips for working effectively at home:
- create a dedicated ‘at work’ space
- set a routine
- expect interruptions
- take regular breaks
- be kind to yourself and stay connected.
For information on working from home, check out Wellbeing SA’s 5 top tips for working from home fact sheet.
Watch these two videos below developed by Wellbeing SA, SafeWork SA and ReturnToWorkSA to support you to work safely and effectively from home.
It’s also important to be cybersafe with more South Australians working from home than ever before. South Australia Police have developed a ‘Working from Home Cyber Safety’ fact sheet that provides 6 simple tips to help protect yourself, and your organisation.
- Ensure your software and applications are up to date and review their permissions.
- Use passwords with multiple words, symbols and numbers.
- Install anti-virus software on your devices and keep them updated.
- Review your social media privacy settings.
- Encrypt USBs and portable hard drives.
- Use a secure, known internet connection.
Support for workers during COVID-19
If you have concerns about your workplace entitlements and obligations during COVID-19, check out the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website. It also provides information on stand downs from work and sick leave entitlements.
If you have raised Work Health and Safety concerns with your employer that you feel have not been adequately responded to, you can contact SafeWork SA to report a safety concern.
If you have been impacted by COVID- 19, you may be eligible for financial support. This includes the Coronavirus Supplement and the Economic Support Payment. Use the Services Australia guide to find out what other payments you may be entitled to.