Communicorp

Communicorp

How to deliver mental health and wellbeing support to postal office and delivery workers across Victoria, with Australia Post and WorkSafe Victoria.

GOALS

  • Understand the psychosocial risks that may lead to mental injury and/or compromised mental health for Licensee Post Office and Community Postal Agency employees and Contract Delivery Drivers.
  • Address risks using sustainable and outcome driven solutions.
  • Develop a program to prevent risks in the long-term.

APPROACH

  • Project team established to explore the psychosocial risks in the postal sectors.
  • Create and provide easy access to support material on how to increase awareness of psychosocial risks.
  • Survey workers to identify further risks and opportunities to expand and develop services.
  • Detailed interviews with individuals for deeper insights into mental health risks.

RESULTS

  • Identified several risks and issues facing workers which can be alleviated with the program.
  • Created first round of program content to support workers and highlight risks.
  • Program framework established to allow further expansion of services with a focus on preventing risks and mental health issues. 

 


 

Background

With frontline workers across Victoria’s substantial postal network facing multiple challenges, hazards and risks to their mental health, both Australia Post, alongside WorkSafe Victoria, knew more needed to be done to support the wellbeing of employees.

Many individuals in the network are not Australia Post employees, but rather franchise owners and self-employed.

These workers in particular are more difficult to support due to the geographical spread of the locations within the network, which includes:

  • 806 Licenced Post Offices (LPOs)
  • 58 Community Postal Agencies (CPAs)
  • An estimated 1,000 contract delivery drivers

The owners/operators of post offices also have varied cultural, economic, and educational backgrounds.

Plus, as well as postal services, many are required to provide finance, insurance and identity and document services to regional communities, adding to the pressure of customers who rely on them as the only business to deliver these services locally.

Additional factors across the network include:

  • Large number of dispersed local businesses across Victoria’s regional areas.
  • Isolation of workers where they are the only business in a remote area.
  • Long hours and self-employment add difficulties for training and upskilling.

 

Exploration (Before COVID-19)

Communicorp established a project working group and held consultation with Australia Post's Safety Manager for Community and Consumer, to identify several challenges faced by workers across the network.

Communicorp also engaged with leaders at Canada Post and New Zealand Post to examine common risks and solutions across similarly challenged networks.

The program working group identified several factors with the highest need for intervention:

  • Violent or traumatic events (specifically aggressive customer behaviour)
  • Jobs with either high or low demands
  • Remote and isolated work
  • Poorly managed organisational change

 

Impact of COVID-19

Ongoing communication across the network and with international postal agencies became increasingly difficult from March 2020 with the global spread of the Coronavirus.

Communicorp adapted to the changing conditions with a commitment to new milestones in order to continue the program through the pandemic.

This included the plans for a network issued Workplace Wellbeing Insight (WWI) survey being put on hold due to the greater demand of postal and delivery services as the impact of COVID-19 increased.

 


 

Communicorp adapted to the changing conditions with a commitment to new milestones in order to continue the program through the pandemic.

 


 

Enabling workers to access support tools

A big challenge was to maintain open communication with all stakeholders in the project and enable workers across the postal network to access support material.

The project team developed videos and tip sheets aimed at increasing awareness of psychosocial risk areas and provide resources to minimise the impact of these risks. Topics included managing difficult customer interactions and self-care during busy work times.

Five videos and five proactive tip sheets, based on known psychosocial risks in the target population, were published in September 2020 and promoted together with the roll out of the previously postponed WWI survey.

In line with the sustainability principle of the project, the content was also selected to still be relevant for individuals who would be highlighted in the survey as facing future mental health risks.

 

Initial learnings

Interviews revealed issues faced by workers and perceptions of mental health risks such as aggressive customer interactions.

By using phone interviews more workers were able to participate from across the state’s various regions.

A lack of time and the increase in demand of delivery services as a result of COVID-19 made it more difficult for workers to access the material or take part in surveys and interviews.

It also became clear that a lack of direct and regular interaction with the workers made it increasingly difficult to follow up from initial conversations. A significant issue for the network where remote and isolated work is common.

 

Next steps

The project team is currently working with researchers at Griffith University to complete a data analysis of the survey results, interviews, and usage of the shared support material.

Workshops planned for early 2021 will also include stakeholders to design a prevention led approach to minimising the mental health risks identified in the exploration phase.

Its normal for our workload to fluctate, and those fluctuations have the potential to impact our sense of wellbeing.

There are many things that influence us as we go about our work. Our relationships, how much sleep we're getting, and the level of our workload are all elements that cause fluctuations in how we feel at work.

It's quite normal when regularly working remotely to feel disconnected and isolated from others.

At all organisations we are occasionally confronted by instances of aggressive behaviour from new and regular customers.

We all experience change in our lives. For many people change brings on feelings of stress and anxiety. It's important to realise these feelings are normal.

11 Sep 2020

Kristen Ellis

Kristen is a member of the Operations Team at Communicorp, specifically partnering with the NSW Government to operationalise, administrate and deliver the WHS Advice Program as a component of the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy 2018-2022.

With over 11 years experience working in the mental health sector, Kristen has comprehensive exposure to various components of workplace mental health and wellbeing including employee assistance programs, learning and development, human resources, remote sites and project management. Kristen’s strengths include logistics and strategic operations, qualitative and quantitative trend analysis and reporting, stakeholder management, and psychological assessment for selection, recruitment, performance and career development.

Kristen is passionate about workplace mental health, in particular, increasing mental health literacy of organisations and their employees within Australia and believes there’s no such thing as too much innovation to destigmatise mental health and make things simpler and more effective for colleagues, potential employees and, most importantly, for clients. She is currently completing a Bachelor of Psychology (Business Management) and is also an accredited LifeLine counsellor as well as accredited in various personality and capability psychometric tools.

27 Aug 2020

Elise Halpin

Elise is a member of the Communicorp Operations Team as a Business Support Officer, assisting in day-to-day operations. Having previously been employed within the Financial Services industry, Elise discovered a passion for ensuring a positive and effective client experience with a focus on the mental wellbeing of the individuals within each organisation. Elise has completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science and Graduate Diploma in Psychology (Advanced), hoping to utilise this training in future as a qualified Psychologist and work closely with people in need.

27 Aug 2020

Brianna Nelson

Bree is a collaborative member of the Operations Team at Communicorp. She takes pride in supporting Communicorp’s national base of clients, stakeholders and Communicorp’s leading team of psychologists to achieve sustainable and best practice outcomes for all involved.

Bree has a passion for people and organisational development. With a background in the human resources field, Bree brings with her five years of coordination and project management expertise in employee, leadership and organisational development programs. Within the Operations team, her attention to detail and her experience enables her to support our psychologists to ensure a seamless client experience.

25 Aug 2020

Tegan Charlton

Tegan Charlton is a registered psychologist with a Master in Organisational Psychology. She has experience working across a range of industries within both private and public sectors, and is skilled in supporting individuals, teams, and organisations manage change and move forward with confidence. Tegan is passionate about supporting people to flourish within their workplace, and utilises solution focused and positive psychology principles to achieve outcomes for her clients. Tegan is an engaging workshop facilitator, confident in communicating with audiences across all levels of seniority for a variety of purposes, from raising awareness to developing skills, and managing change processes. She is a skilled career coach with experience supporting clients from diverse vocational backgrounds to manage periods of career transition. She is also experienced in the use of a range of psychometric assessments for development and selection and has used these tools to support organisations to build capability within their businesses.

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