Creating and maintaining a mentally healthy workplace… in a pandemicCat McCarthy
Today, Thursday 10th September, is R U OK? Day. I’ve always struggled with this day in the past. Each and every year, my social media is filled with ‘R U OK?’ typed into everyone’s status updates, or friends share a generic ‘cut and paste’ type chain mail. There never seems to be much worth in the message, although I’m sure the sentiment is there.
This year, the R U OK? Campaign promotes the message ‘There’s more to say after R U OK?’. Now THAT is a message I can get behind. It’s not a rhetorical question, its not a throwaway line, it’s a conversation starter. It’s a planned chat. It requires preparation, resources, time. It’s not just about caring about others, its about helping them. Well, that’s what the new campaign says to me, and I love it.
I’ve spoken at length before about how we prioritize team culture at McCarthy Plumbing Group. Creating a good team culture and creating a mentally healthy workplace go hand in hand; I don’t believe you can have one without the other. We value our plumbers and aim to be an employer of choice for plumbers in Point Cook.
Whilst we’ve always believed we are a mentally safe business, valuing communication and transparency, the Covid 19 pandemic has made us really double down and have a think about how we can improve all aspects of our business. We’ve been asking ourselves ‘how can we do better?’ in all of our systems, our processes, our OHS, our delivery of client experiences, minimizing material wastage etc. I asked myself ‘how can we do better at making sure we create a mentally safe workplace?’. And do you know what, it scared me. All of the other things are simple fixes, you create better systems, you automate things, you send clients gifts, you get the staff further training. You can’t just make peoples mental health better, can you?
Well no, we are a plumbing company, we aren’t counsellors. We aren’t trained in that (the first year I completed of a social work degree in 2002 doesn’t quite cut it unfortunately!). What we can do, and have a responsibility to do, is make sure our team are safe at work, physically, mentally and emotionally. We want to ensure the workplace isn’t a cause of mental health duress of our team members. Creating a mentally healthy workplace also means that our team members are comfortable in advising their managers of any mental health issues that they may be suffering at the time, so we can make arrangements to assist them in their road to recovery.
Life is hard, particularly this year during a pandemic, lockdowns, separation from families and our usual lifestyles. We don’t want to add to that as employers.
The reason I was scared wasn’t because mental health is still a taboo subject to talk about, it was because I felt under-resourced and under-educated; I didn’t know what to do to make sure we, as an employer, were doing everything we could to create a mentally healthy workplace. So I enlisted in some external, professional training for myself and my team.
All 6 of our Managers at McCarthy Plumbing Group recently undertook the Mental Health Training for Managers course delivered by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce. I also completed the Mental Health Fundamentals for Managers also delivered by VCCI. The course was brilliant, and thorough, and showed us we are on the right track to maintaining a mentally healthy workplace. We have our entire team of plumbers getting the training this Friday also which I’m really excited about. We’re committing to creating a positive workplace for everyone; one in, all in.
Our team are also getting behind R U OK? Day this year, with its new thorough campaign. We sent our team surprise cupcakes on the weekend, not to be tokenistic and give it a ‘tick, done!’. We thought sugar would be a nice way to start the questioning, to open the dialogue with our team. We’ve since all chatted about how its an ongoing topic now for our business, that those 3 words are only the beginning and we’ve got each other’s back.
This is a ‘watch this space’ story. We’ve created a mentally healthy workplace, its our duty to continue to maintain it.
For further information or help, please refer to:
Lifeline 13 11 14- https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Beyond Blue – https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Worksafe – https://www.workwell.vic.gov.au/toolkit
R U OK? – https://www.ruok.org.au/
For further information on the McCarthy Plumbing Group team culture or our happy, talented plumbers please call 03 9931 0905 or click here.