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Choosing your focus areas

Figuring out where you want to focus your resources will help you when it comes time to write your mental health and well-being strategy and plan your new activities.

Below are some options you may consider as your approach, which you can use later to guide the specific activities you might then introduce.

  • Ensure Mitigate Illness and Prevent Harm pillars are adequately addressed.
  • Ensure the whole Thrive at Work framework has been addressed.
  • Address the maturity of your activities.
  • Address those with high impact and ease of implementation.
  • Consolidate activities.

Once you have chosen your focus, you can use this to inform your mental health and well-being strategy. You will probably find that your focus and priorities will change over time as you successfully introduce new activities of increasing maturity.

Focus option 1: Ensure Mitigate Illness and Prevent Harm are adequately addressed

Australian Work Health and Safety legislation requires organisations and employees to take shared responsibility for the protection of employee mental health. Activities relevant to ensuring your legal compliance are in the Mitigate Illness and Prevent Harm building blocks.

We recommend that all organisations address the Mitigate Illness and Prevent Harm building blocks first to ensure that employees are protected and supported. This option is particularly important if legal compliance is a primary concern for your organisation. Some areas to consider if you select this as your focus are below.

Do you have activities in every building block?

Refer to your summary heat map. Are there any building blocks in the Mitigate Illness or Prevent Harm pillars that are highlighted red? This means that you currently do not have any activities relevant to that building block. If this is the case, your first priority should be adding at least one good quality activity in the Mitigate Illness or Prevent Harm building blocks that do not currently have any activities. Your legal obligations sit within these two building blocks so addressing them will help you work towards compliance.

Do you have a variety of activities in each building block?

Take a look at how your activities are distributed within each building block. For example, are all of your Support Illness activities focused on stigma reduction, without any activities that aim to remove barriers to accessing help? To address each building block successfully, we recommend that organisations use a variety of strategies. If your activities for each building block are clustered around one or two strategies, your priority should be to focus on the addition of an activity in each strategy of the Mitigate Illness and Prevent Harm pillars.

Focus option 2: Ensure the whole Thrive at Work Framework has been addressed

If your audit indicated that your current activities are heavily concentrated in one or two building blocks, you may want to focus on introducing activities across the full Thrive at Work Framework. This will enable your organisation to support employees across the full spectrum of mental health.

It is recommended that you build a solid foundation by addressing the Mitigate Illness and Prevent Harm building blocks before progressing to the Promote Thriving. The strategies in the Promote Thriving building blocks tend to be the most difficult and most ambitious but can be a rewarding opportunity to optimise employee well-being. Starting slowly by adding one or two long term Promote Thriving goals can will help ensure your actions are sustainable and successful.

Focus option 3: Address the maturity of your activities

If you feel comfortable with the number and spread of well-being activities in your organisation, you may prefer to focus your attention on improving the maturity of your activities.

Link activities to your well-being strategy

Look at your summary heat map in the evaluation tool. Are there building blocks that are shaded red or blue? Within those building blocks, are there important well-being activities that should be linked to your well-being strategy? If so, committing to them by including them as a key activity in your well-being strategy is an easy way to mature your activities from 1 to 3-5 without investing any additional resources. Depending on the number of activities you choose to link, your next evaluation could have a much lower proportion of immature activities.

The next page will guide you through the process of writing or modifying your well-being strategy.

Note

The activities you add to your well-being strategy should make strategic sense. Committing to activities that don’t have an appropriate mental health and well-being focus or adequate resources available will be detrimental in the long run.

Remember that having mature activities in the Promote Thriving pillar is a very ambitious goal. We recommend that you focus on maturing and embedding activities in the Mitigate Illness and Prevent Harm pillars to begin with. Most organisations will spend several years maturing these areas.

Establishing ad hoc activities

Use your heat maps to examine if there are building blocks that appear to be dominated by activities that address mental health in an ad hoc, non-recurrent way? If so you may consider maturing these ad hoc activities to the rating ‘planned and established activities that address mental health at work’.

This will require you to consider longer term resourcing, time frames and assigning responsibilities to individuals so be careful not to commit to too many activities being recurrent too soon.

Introduce metrics and evaluative processes

Organisations that measure and evaluate their activities and monitor their employees’ well-being are able to make more strategic and impactful decisions. For an activity to be considered mature it should have relevant metrics being monitored at minimum.

Many organisations do not currently assess their organisational metrics in light of mental health and well-being, so if you’re starting here, you might make your goal to identify relevant metrics to be linked and start monitoring them over time. The evaluation tool contains a sheet labelled “metrics”. You can use this to identify metrics that may be relevant to each building block.

Ideally, to achieve a rating of 4 for the maturity rating you should have a goal to have at least one metric that is reflective of each Building Block.

If you have already metrics associated with your activities, you can start evaluating their outcomes to achieve a maturity rating of 5. If this is the case, you may prioritise introducing new data collection and analysis techniques in order to make strategic and informed decisions about how to address mental health and well-being in your organisation.

Focus option 4: Address activities with high impact and ease of implementation

You may decide to focus on activities that are easier to implement and will have high impact as a starting point.

Within the Thrive at Work assessment tool, there is room to evaluate the activities in terms of how easy it would be to go from the current state to a fully implemented, measurable version of this initiative, and the impact the activity could have if it was fully implemented and measurable.

Evaluate ease of implementation

For each activity, evaluate how easy it would be to move it from its current maturity rating to a fully implemented and measurable version. Assign a rating of 1 (high difficulty), 2 (medium difficulty) or 3 (easy).

Some factors to consider include

  • financial/people resources,
  • senior leader approval,
  • employee demand or response,
  • linkage to business strategy/plans, and
  • pre-existing supporting resources/structures/systems.

Evaluate potential impact

For each activity, evaluate the impact the activity could have if it was fully implemented and fully measured. Assign a rating of 1 (low impact), 2 (medium impact), or 3 (high impact).

Activities that are likely to have a high impact are those that will result in employee or leader behavioural changes. Actions that are likely to prompt people to act differently at work are likely to result in more sustainable change than actions that simply raise awareness. Although all activities that impact well-being are useful and play an important part, it is not practical or realistic to invest equally in all activities. We recommend attending to activities that are going to have high behavioural impact, to ensure sustained change. Remember that each organisation has different needs and areas of concern.

Ease and impact score

The Thrive at Work Assessment spreadsheet will automatically calculated the sum of your ease of implementation and impact scores. This provides guidance in how to select areas for prioritisation and development. Activities with a score of 5 and 6 are those that are considered to be fairly easy to fully implement and will have a high impact on employee well-being and behaviour.

Focus option 5: Consolidate activities

You may decide (regardless of the maturity or spread of activities) that there are activities that you would like to add or remove.

If you recognise that a number of existing activities are currently in place and are not achieving the outcomes you were hoping for, you can either modify them, remove them, or replace them. The ultimate goal of this approach is to ensure that activities are as effective as they can be and that resources are used in effective ways. It can be difficult for organisations to identify which activities are having positive, negative or neutral impacts, especially if you do not currently have metrics available.

If this is the approach you’d like to take and you need help deciding which activities to keep and which to discontinue contact the Future of Work Institute for assistance.

Next step

Develop a well-being strategy

Your well-being strategy articulates your organisation’s commitment to employee well-being and will help embed well-being in your organisation’s overall vision and day to day activities.