Christmas Is Coming: Let’s Wrap The Year Up Positively

 

Christmas is just around the corner. 

While you might not be ready for it yet, the silly season will stop for no one!

That means there is only so much time to get everything wrapped up before the end of the year. But there is also a silver lining to the situation. 

The good news is that Christmas creates a great opportunity to celebrate the successes of the year and signals an appropriate time for a well-deserved break.  

So, how do you make sure everything is wrapped up in time and you are ready for Christmas? 

We’ve got all the info you need right here. 

Celebrate the Year 

As the year draws to a close, it is the perfect time to celebrate all the great things that have happened in the last 12 months. These achievements don’t all have to be enormous ones, it is appropriate to celebrate all the small things as well. 

Thank your team for all that they have done this year. After all, it hasn’t been an easy one. With the pressures of Covid, rising inflation, and the ongoing navigation of a new normal after the last couple of years, they deserve a giant thank you! 

Don’t worry about it feeling cheesy. Sometimes a bit of cheese is worth it! Especially as it will remind your team that they are respected and valued by you.  

It is also vital that you create the right kind of feel moving into the new year. It’s time to look forward with a positive outlook. So, finishing this year on a positive and celebratory note will help set your team up for a great year ahead.  

A cool way to do this is to help your team members set goals to work on in the new year. They should be positive goals that focus on moving forward – perhaps career progression, training and development, or project work. 

Is it Time to Party? 

The annual Christmas party used to be a staple in everyone’s calendar. Then, 2020 rolled around, and the obligatory Christmas party took a backseat. You can revive it again this year or take a different approach to bring everyone together. 

We know budgets are tight, so it doesn’t have to be an expensive event. A casual team BBQ, a potluck dinner, a round of mini golf, or a trip to the bowling alley can all be fun. It’s simply about marking the end of the year and giving your team the chance to connect socially. If your team enjoy some time together in a relaxed and neutral setting, it will only help to build great morale and teamwork in the workplace. 

Don’t forget those team members who are working remotely. Round everyone up and regroup with an end of year get-together. And if it’s not possible to get everyone together in one location, what about an online Christmas party via video conference? Take your party connections to the next level by delivering little gift boxes of treats that can be opened and enjoyed while everyone is “partying”. 

Wellbeing Check 

After a draining year, it is timely to check in with all the members of your team to see how they are really doing. Christmas might not necessarily be a merry time for everyone. So, it is a great opportunity for a wellness check with your team. 

We spend such a large portion of our lives working, so it is important that your team feel mentally safe and valued at work so they can perform at their best. A wellness check can help you determine if that is the case for your people. 

This process is about honest and open conversations, as well as actively listening to what your team members are saying and what they might be reluctant to say. Remind your team of available support options – like speaking with HR, anonymous feedback, or any EAP avenues. 

Christmas Break 

Many businesses will choose to close for a period over Christmas. Will your business be one of them? If so, you will need to ensure you notify all your employees of the closure at least 14 days in advance. 

As part of that conversation, it is helpful to communicate what options your team have for leave. Obviously, they can take this as annual leave if they have enough available. But it is important to provide options for those without an adequate leave balance. You may choose to let them take leave in advance or require leave without pay. 

You can find more information about how to handle an annual closedown period here

The Christmas holidays also mean there are plenty of public holidays to observe. You’ll need to make sure you are following the correct public holiday guidelines for your staff in terms of wages and rostering. This applies regardless of whether you are having an annual closedown period or not. Make sure you are following the rules by checking out the public holiday guideline info here.  

Ready to close the book on 2022? You are not alone there! And if you need help tying up any loose ends or planning for a productive 2023, then the Spice Gals are here for you. 

We can help you navigate the guidelines around public holidays and annual closures or set up the ultimate wellness program for the new year ahead. For any and all HR queries, get in touch with our Spicey team! 

Let’s Check In With Our Mental Health

As Mental Health Awareness Week approaches in New Zealand, the focus of many companies turns towards ensuring their teams are checking in with their mental health. 

This is now more important than ever! 

Sure, we are hopefully over the worst of the pandemic restrictions, but the ongoing repercussions are most definitely being felt. 

So, let’s explore what you can do to check in with your own mental health, as well as the mental health of your team. 

Let’s Check In With Our Mental Health 

Do You Have The Right Support? 

Many people have developed strong skills of resilience in the last few years. Resilience was a vital tool to help navigate the choppy waters of Covid and everything that the virus brought with it! 

Whilst resilience remains an essential skill, we cannot rely on this alone. There comes a time when everyone reaches their maximum point of resilience and it’s important to make sure the right additional resources are in place. 

Consider who you know that could provide key support. It could be a spouse, friend, family member or co-worker. If none of those are suitable, then there are plenty of other options for external support.  

Creating Healthy Habits 

A big part of maintaining good mental health is forming the right habits. Now, that doesn’t simply mean eating healthily and getting enough sleep. Whilst those things are certainly important, you also need to consider your mindset and working relationships.

Relationships in the Workplace

You have probably heard that you draw a lot of energy from the people that surround you. So, it is vital that the people you spend the most time with have a positive influence on you.

Of course, this is not always possible. You may find that you have someone in your team or workplace that you don’t see eye to eye with. Obviously, you can’t cut these people out – even though you might want to! Rather, mindfully manage the interactions you have with them using the following tips: 

  • Actively listen 
  • Stay calm 
  • Stick to the facts 
  • Keep the interactions positive
  • Show empathy – try and see things from their perspective
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Take a pause when you need to 
  • Focus on the result or end goal that you’re after

Mindset 

Mindset is another large component of good mental health. Having a positive state of mind can really help to improve wellbeing, productivity, and confidence. So, how do you create good mindset habits? Well, here are some of our favourite tips:  

  • Squash the negative self-talk and celebrate wins – no matter how big or small
  • Stop comparing yourself to others – accept yourself for who you are and recognise the value you add
  • Be mindful and appreciate the good things in life 
  • Recognise and accept your emotions to process them easily 
  • Only focus on what you can control
  • Learn from your mistakes 
  • Practice a ‘glass half full’ mentality

Building Workplace Mental Health Awareness 

Whilst it is great to recognise and celebrate good mental health during Mental Health Awareness Week, we really want to encourage workplace practices that last all year round. 

Here are some great ideas to consider: 

  • Introduce ME Days: everybody has days where they simply don’t have the energy to adult! A ME Day (or mental health day) is the perfect solution. It’s a day kept separate from annual leave, where your team members can take time off. A day to recharge the batteries, if you will! 
  • Wellbeing committee: show your team that you value wellbeing by setting up a committee dedicated towards it. This allows nominated staff and management to consult on wellbeing issues to create a positive environment for everyone in the workplace. 
  • Wellbeing programme: get serious about improving and maintaining good mental health at your workplace by establishing a formal wellbeing programme. The programme could include all the things your team value – flexible working hours and conditions, onsite fitness, healthy food options/education, assistance programmes… whatever works for your people. 
  • Five Ways to Wellbeing: The Mental Health Foundation of NZ has created plenty of useful 5 Ways to Wellbeing resources to download and implement within your workplace.
  • Workshops: The cool thing about professional development is that it doesn’t need to be role specific. There are plenty of types of training centred around resilience and psychological safety that can truly empower your team. 
  • Employee Assistance Programmes: Alongside traditional EAP Providers, if your budget doesn’t stretch that far check out the Xero Assistance Programme. This offers Kiwi small business owners, their employees and family members access to free and confidential counselling and support until the end of the year – regardless of whether you are a Xero customer, or not!  In addition Xero ,have a lot of useful free support resources for businesses – check them out!  

Supporting good mental health should be an essential focus for all NZ businesses. If you feel as though you need help developing or expanding your workplace wellbeing programme, then the Spice Gals are here to help. Get in touch with us today

 

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 

The Importance Of End Of Year Workplace Celebrations (Even This Year!)

Release the virtual balloons, pop the champagne (or cider), and get the chips and dip ready to roll. The year is rapidly coming to an end, and believe it or not, there are many reasons to celebrate!

Workplace celebrations are important at any time, but after surviving another year of uncertainty and stress, it’s even more important to recognise the wins for your business – big and small.

We know you probably just want to get this year over with and move on to brighter times, but before you write 2021 off completely, take a moment to recognise your fantastic team.

Let’s chat about why workplace celebrations are so valuable to you and your team at the end of the year.

The Importance Of End Of Year Workplace Celebrations (Even This Year!)

The Value Of Workplace Celebrations

Teams that celebrate together thrive together – truly! While it’s important to celebrate success throughout the year, the end of the year is the perfect time to bring everyone together and look at what you and your team have achieved over the last 12 months.

Here’s how workplace celebrations benefit your business:

  • They motivate – recognition is an organic motivator that inspires people to continue being successful.
  • They unify and reinforce company culture and values – celebrations have a way of bringing people together, particularly if they follow times of challenge.
  • They build momentum – recognising the small goals provides momentum to carry on and achieve the bigger goals.
  • They boost positivity – it’s easy to get caught up in everything that’s going wrong and forget about what’s going right. Workplace celebrations shift the focus back onto the good things.
  • They reward – recognition and reward are essential to keep your team engaged and motivated. The end of year celebrations are a lovely reward for hard work after a year of trials and tribulations.
  • They encourage team bonding – it’s been a year of distancing, which can be hard when working in a team. Coming back together (even virtually) helps rebuild those bonds.
  • They provide a timeout – after a tough year, your team need space to breathe and step back from work mode so they can start the new year fresh. A workplace celebration is a great way to farewell the old and welcome the new.

What Should You Celebrate?

Feel like this year didn’t bring much worth celebrating? Think again! Even if your business has faced challenges in the last 12 months and couldn’t thrive as well as you’d like, there are plenty of things to celebrate.

Success doesn’t always have to be about reaching a goal. It can be about the process, too.

Love the way your team supported one another during turbulent times? Celebrate that!

Proud of how people pivoted to different work conditions? Celebrate their adaptability!

Did someone come up with a great way to bring in revenue even during lockdown or connect with customers even when your doors were closed? Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!

 

Safely Celebrating With Your Team

Just like many things this year, Christmas workplace celebrations may look a little different for your team. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still be happen!

Even as we enter the Traffic Light system, it’s crucial to plan your holiday festivities to be safe, and have a backup plan in place just in case things escalate before your team party rolls around!

Depending on where you are, you may be able to meet outdoors for a meal, or you might have to take the happy hour drinks online.

Whatever you do, make sure your entire team are considered, and make it casual and simple, because we’ve all had enough stress this year to last the next decade!

Think virtual happy hour, a socially distanced scavenger hunt, a game night, or virtual escape rooms. Most importantly, allow people time to connect, laugh, and reflect on the year’s successes because that’s what it’s all about.

 

Spare A Thought For The Coming Months

Nobody likes a Debbie downer, but as much as we need to let loose and celebrate, it’s also important to look ahead to what’s coming next.

As we prepare to wind down for the holidays, we also enter the next COVID framework Traffic Light phase , so it’s vital to be prepared to hit the ground running in January 2022.

The government recently announced new support for businesses transitioning into the new framework. This includes some fantastic packages around business advice and mental health support.

For many businesses, this is the light at the end of a very long tunnel. We now have a pathway out of lockdown; things are looking up, and that’s definitely worth celebrating.

Of course, new pathways bring changes. If you need help exploring what those changes look like for your people, then get in touch with us here at Spice HR. People are our speciality and we would love to help your business make easy transitions that don’t interrupt your team culture.

How To Find The Elusive Work Life Balance

How To Find The Elusive Work Life Balance

 Rollercoasters can be a lot of fun, but imagine if you were forced to ride one when you weren’t really in the mood for excitement.

You’d probably be more stressed than excited, but you’d tolerate it, dust yourself off and move on.

But what if someone forced you onto that rollercoaster again and again, never giving you time to prepare and never telling you how many times you’d have to go around the loop-de-loop before you were allowed to disembark.

Even a resilient lover of thrill rides would tire of that vicious cycle, becoming worn out, anxious, and just plain over it.

That’s where we’re at, folks. We’ve been riding the COVID rollercoaster for nearly two years. And even though New Zealand had a pretty decent break, we find ourselves thrust back onto the ride, whether we like it or not.

So, what can we do?

How To Find The Elusive Work Life Balance

Prioritising What’s Important

Uncertainty takes a toll on our ability to work, parent or even just do what needs to be done around the home. That’s why mental wellbeing is more essential now than ever – and finding work life balance plays a significant role in our mental health.

Let’s talk about why it’s so important to switch off from work and how to separate home and work life.

We’ll also share some valuable mental wellbeing resources to help you and your team survive the COVID rollercoaster together.

Climb aboard and buckle up!

Why Finding The Work Life Balance Is More Important Than Ever

If your resilience and tolerance are wearing thin (or long gone), it’s understandable. The uncertainty of being in and out of lockdown, working from home, parenting from home, and living under social restrictions is stressful for everyone.

Work life balance has been a hot topic for years, but in the current pandemic climate, it’s a lot more complicated than it once was.

The lines between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred. While that’s particularly true for those working from home, it’s still relevant for essential workers who need to leave the house.

Partners or flatmates may be working from home, changing the home environment completely, and if you have kids, the juggle struggle is real, regardless of whether you work from home or not.

On top of all this, we’re trying to cope with worries and fears about illness, sick friends and family, and an uncertain future – both personally and professionally.

That’s an awful lot to deal with.

The Mental Wellness Discussion

With everything that is currently going on, mental wellness has become a crucial conversation.

If we don’t prioritise work life balance and take care of our mental health, we’ll find it hard to cope with any aspect of life.

The ongoing stress can result in unproductivity, loss of motivation, depression, and anxiety. And if we don’t find ways to mitigate the demands of work and home, we’re likely to experience that stress physically, too, with fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, and long-term health issues.

Not only do we need to take responsibility for our own mental health, but we need to support those around us too – our friends, family, colleagues and employees.

It may have been said so much that it’s become something of a cheesy cliché, but we are all in this together!

How To Separate Home And Work When Working From Home

How’s the productivity going now that you’ve been working from home for a while? Should be a piece of cake, right? Do you have your routine sorted? Do you knock off on time every day? Are you more productive than ever?

If the answer is yes, then virtual high five for you – you’ve nailed the demands of WFH.

But for so many workers, the struggle continues. Working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and it can be hard to separate home and work.

If that’s you, here are some tips to help you regain that work life balance.

Stick to a morning routine

Resist the temptation to get straight on the laptop to start work the minute you wake up. Try to stick to the same kind of routine you had before COVID. Maybe you’re a morning person and used to exercise and shower before heading to work. Or perhaps you grabbed a coffee at the gas station and sat in traffic every day.

Either way, create some kind of routine to separate your home life from your work life. Get up, get ready, walk around the block, then arrive in the “office” and get to work.

Create a dedicated workspace

If possible, devote an area of your home to your workspace. Resist working from the bed or couch – it’s too distracting (and horrendous for your back!). If you have a separate room to work in, fantastic! Set that area aside and only use it for work.

If not, make do with what you have, but make it your designated work area. You may have to work at the dining room table, but choose a special chair or cushion, and only use that for work and nothing else.

Leave the Office at the End of the Day

Create an end of work routine to separate your workday from home. Don’t sit and browse your laptop once you are finished. Instead, get up and leave – even if it’s just to walk around the garden!

Establish boundaries – and stick to them

Make sure you, your manager, your colleagues (or clients) are clear on your work hours. Agree that work emails or phone calls only happen between those times, and resist the temptation to fire off a “quick” email outside of those hours.

Don’t forget to set boundaries with your family or housemates too. Let them know that when you’re working, that’s work time, and you’re not available for chores or chats. The best way to get the time you need is to communicate that you need it.

Take breaks

Schedule a lunch break and stick to it. Don’t spend that lunch break on your computer – step away! Go outside and take some deep breaths, grab a book to read while you eat, or chat with the family. Take regular breaks away from your workspace during the day, too.

Ask your employer for support

If you’re struggling to cope, be open with your employer. The best organisations will have strategies to address health and wellness. Ask for resources to help you manage overwhelm.

Go easy on yourself

You know those people you see on social media who are nailing their careers, baking delicious meals, home schooling their kids and doing yoga every day? Forget about them.

Even if their posts accurately reflect their lives (and chances are, they don’t), you are not them. You don’t have to do everything perfectly. It’s ok just to cope. It’s ok if you’re not coping. Give yourself a break and focus on what you are achieving instead of what you’re not.

Take care of your physical health

Your physical health directly impacts your mental health, and vice versa. It’s important to prioritise habits and activities that improve both. That means finding time to exercise (even if it’s dancing around the house) and eat well.

Oh, and don’t forget to laugh! Find things that make you smile and forget about the rollercoaster for a while.

Health And Wellbeing Resources

Rather than you having to trawl the internet for resources that might be helpful, we have compiled a handy list:

Mentemia

App and Website – Tried and tested tools to help promote and manage well being. Free for general use, but with tailored options available to businesses.

Mental Health Foundation

Practical wellbeing tips and advice based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Working Well Guide

Resources for workplace wellbeing.

Getting Through Together

A pool of resources, tips and inspirational stories focused on health and wellbeing during COVID-19.

Working Well

A guide to mental health in the workplace.

Staying on Track

A free e-therapy course teaching you practical coping strategies for the COVID rollercoaster.

Small Steps

Digitally-based tools to help you maintain mental wellness.

Whakatui Mai – The Wellbeing Sessions

Free virtual community events aimed at supporting well being in real-time.

A Mental Health Guide for New Zealand Leaders

Comprehensive document aimed at leaders and managers to help them support the mental wellbeing of their teams.

And, of course, if you are feeling stuck, overwhelmed or unsure of how you can support your team with creating a good work life balance, then get in touch with the Spice Gals today. We can help you create a plan that supports your team remotely or in-person.

How To Build Resilience In The Workplace

The last few years have been pretty brutal for everyone. Many people and businesses have experienced a lot of loss due to the pandemic, and the long-term stress continues to take a toll.

But have you noticed that some people seem to be able to bounce back more easily than others?

While some individuals may be struggling to cope, others are able to learn from what’s happened, grow from it, and persevere.

What does it take to do this? How do they manage so well? What do they have in their personal and professional lives that enables them to get right back up and carry on?

The answer is resilience. This quality helps people adapt when faced with adversity, conflict, and trauma.

Resilient employees are an enormous asset to any organisation, so building resilience in the workplace should be a top priority for leaders.

But what is resilience in the workplace and why is it really important? And how can leaders encourage resilience among their workers? Let’s answer those questions now.

How To Build Resilience In The Workplace

What Is Resilience

Resilience is an individual’s ability to respond to the stresses and demands of life. The dictionary definition talks about concepts such as flexibility, durability, strength, and speed of recovery.

Basically, resilience is the capacity to respond to adversity and challenge throughout all aspects of life.

So, where does resilience come from? Is it in our DNA, or can it be nurtured and grown?

Interestingly, it’s likely to be a little bit of both.

Although some people seem to inherently be more resilient, it is possible to cultivate and nurture this quality to help people not only cope, but even thrive through challenging times.

Resilience is cultivated through healthy habits and a positive mindset. There are many small yet effective ways to build your own – and help boost those around you.

The Benefits Of A Resilient Workforce

Resilience is the foundation for many desirable workplace qualities. It improves general wellbeing, helps people be more flexible and adaptable to fast-paced environments or changing circumstances, and aids in effective communication.

Research has shown that resilience can help businesses stay competitive and profitable even during times of uncertainty.

Resilient workers contribute enormously to a positive workplace culture. They are more likely to be engaged, productive and innovative, even in high-pressure situations, and less likely to succumb to burnout.

Building Resilience In The Workplace – Where To Start

Leaders have a unique struggle on their hands. They need to somehow find a balance between striving for financial performance while addressing the mental wellbeing of their team.

One of the best ways to do this is by encouraging resilience in your workers. Here are some of the most effective methods for building resilience in the workplace.

Become a resilient leader

Your own resiliency impacts the way you lead, which trickles down to affect those who work with you. Use these tips to develop personal resilience:

  • Take steps to manage your own mental and physical wellbeing
  • Work on reframing threats as challenges
  • Pay attention to your thoughts and behaviours and work on cultivating a growth mindset
  • Create (and lean on) a social support network
  • Build mindfulness and self-awareness

Support the wellbeing of your workers

Emotional wellbeing is the foundation of resilience. We all cope better when we are well-rested, healthy, and have a manageable work-life balance. Consider implementing measures that support workplace wellbeing, such as flexible work arrangements.

Foster positive work relationships

Social interaction and support are essential in building resilience. Ensure you provide your employees with the chance to bond and socialise, even if you have remote workers. This can be through organised activities within the workplace, events held outside of working hours, or simply encouraging your team to connect with each other on a social level.

Don’t neglect performance and development

Self-reflection helps cultivate resilience. Don’t let challenging times derail your performance reviews. Your people still need feedback on how they are doing and the opportunity to reflect on their challenges and successes. Make sure you provide this in a formal review setting, but also on a regular, more casual basis.

Focus on the future

As part of your performance reviews, you should be helping your employees effectively set realistic, achievable, relevant goals. The right goals can motivate people and help them focus their energy on what’s ahead of them, instead of dwelling on what’s behind them. It also helps them to look beyond the current adversity to a time that may be calmer.

Provide resources

Even the most resilient people can struggle with tough times. Our resilience changes from day to day, and sometimes we may need support to manage. Ensure your workers have access to resources to help them cope, such as employee assistance programs, stress management coaching programs, or similar initiatives.

When you are the one who is expected to lead, sometimes it can be difficult to always demonstrate resilience. So, it can be helpful to call in the experts to assist.

If you want to build resilience in your workplace (and yourself), then reach out to us here at Spice HR. We help businesses tackle the tough times so they can be ready to capitalise on the good.

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.

What The “New Normal” Means For The Wellbeing Of Your Team

Wellbeing in New Normal

With everything that’s happened in the last year, it’s safe to say that wellbeing, life – and work – as we know it has changed. Every month that passes shows us how unlikely it is that things will return to exactly the way they were.

Business looks different, work-life looks different, and these changes aren’t so temporary anymore. That means it’s time to progress out of survival mode and into thrive mode.

Organisations need to look at workplace trends and think seriously about where they should be investing their time and energy. We need to think about staff wellbeing in the context of the “new normal”, how we can retain a cohesive team environment in these times of change and uncertainty, and how to prepare for the “next normal”, whatever that may be.

We know it can be overwhelming, but keep reading for some guidance on where and how you might want to start focusing your attention.

Workplace Trends Post-COVID-19

We know the pandemic is still here, but the immediate shock of it is passing. Businesses and individuals have begun to accept how things have changed, and we have all had some time to sit down, breathe, and take stock of how much has happened in the past year.

So, what’s next?

Time to review how well your team and organisation have adapted to physical distancing/remote working, and look at the trends for 2021 and beyond. Here’s an overview.

Remote working has increased

Well, duh! Yes, clearly, any organisation with the capability to implement remote work has done so.

But what’s interesting to note is that many will continue to explore and experiment with hybrid work/remote work even once the pandemic is under control. The “office” as we knew it will probably never be quite the same again.

Increased data collection

More employers are making use of technology to monitor their employees. Everything from productivity and engagement to wellbeing and employee experience is being tracked and analysed to create safe, productive, and innovative workplaces.

Increase of contingent workers

Many organisations are reducing the number of full-time employees and hiring contingent (freelance/gig) workers instead. This allows them flexibility and helps save costs but may lead to confusion around performance management as well as a loss of team cohesion.

Emphasis on the employer’s role in wellbeing

The pandemic has seen employers playing a vital role in the health and wellbeing of their employees. The emphasis has been on the ability of businesses to provide sick leave, financial assistance, flexible hours, and support for the wider community.

A move from efficiency to resilience

Pre-pandemic, the big focus was on efficiency. Now, the emphasis is more on building resilience in processes and organisations. Systems must be responsive and flexible to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Employees must be adaptable and have diverse, cross-functional roles that can navigate change.

What Thinking Do We Need To Alter?

The trends reflect the changes that most organisations have experienced. That is a move away from traditional workspaces and systems, and an increasing emphasis on strong, resilient, flexible teams and processes.

This is a defining time for all of us: how we respond to the trials of the last year will impact the future. And while things have been challenging, this moment in time presents a range of opportunities for businesses.

  • Choose to be innovative. Strive for more resilient teams instead of trying to recreate what no longer works.
  • Embrace the possibilities provided by hybrid and remote work.
  • Introduce initiatives that bolster the wellbeing of your people.
  • Find new ways to create and control your corporate identity and employer brand post COVID-19.

 What Does Team Building Look Like Now?

When it comes to HR, one of your biggest challenges will be rethinking team building. With social distancing and hybrid work now par for the course, team bonding and culture development won’t happen quite so organically.

So, how can you provide spaces and opportunities for your team to bond away from the lunchroom and water cooler?

By behaving with intention and thinking outside the traditional office box.

Here are a few examples:

Host team huddles

Connect your entire team by having a regular online “huddle”. This could be for 15 minutes every morning to check-in and connect, or twice a week – whatever works for your organisation. This is not a formal meeting, but a time to chat, catch-up and check-in with one another.

Schedule virtual meet-ups

People need one-on-one time as well as group-bonding. One to one personal meetings are perfect for that. Facilitate online meet-ups for two people to chat and get to know each other better, or build on an existing established relationship.

Keep the game time going!

When our levels dictate that laser-tag or mini golf are a no-go, there are still plenty of games that can be played virtually by your team. Schedule some fun virtual activities that everyone can attend during a lockdown. Things like quizzes or online escape rooms are perfect.

Learn together

Successful teams learn new things together. Set up virtual workshops and webinars to promote professional development and facilitate online group learning.

Using Extended DISC To Get A More Informed Plan

A remote or hybrid team isn’t doomed when it comes to bonding or performance. In fact, research shows that remote teams can perform better than in-house teams if they are managed in the right way.

Extended DISC profiles can help managers understand the work style and personal preferences of their team members. They provide you with valuable insights into the best ways to manage individuals and bring them together.

You will learn how much support and contact each team member requires from you and what kind of work they respond well to.

If we have learned one thing from COVID-19, it’s the importance of a bonded, resilient team in navigating change. Challenges can bring people together or push them apart. The stronger your team is, the stronger your business is.

Regardless of what comes next, Spice HR is here to help you and your team navigate the new normal and prepare for what’s next. If you’d like advice or support about how to move forward, contact us for a chat today.