Understood

Ep.12 | Margo Lydon: a true MASTERCLASS in workplace mental health

October 16, 2020 Mitch Wallis
Understood
Ep.12 | Margo Lydon: a true MASTERCLASS in workplace mental health
Chapters
Understood
Ep.12 | Margo Lydon: a true MASTERCLASS in workplace mental health
Oct 16, 2020
Mitch Wallis

Today's guest is Margo Lydon. In this episode we cover:

  • The most recent insights relating to corporate mental health in Australia from the country's largest wellbeing survey 
  • An overview of the 5 core domains of a thriving workplace 
  • What some organisations aren't doing well to support their staff (and what they could be doing more right)
  • How COVID has impacted Australian workers (with a surprising finding)
  • What leaders can do to serve their team more effectively

About Margo Lydon
Margo has been working in mental health and suicide prevention for 20 years. She is the CEO of SuperFriend - one of Australia's leading Workplace Mental Health Organisations. Margo holds a Master of Science, Positive Organization Development and Change and a Bachelor of Business Degree (Marketing). She was a finalist in the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards (Victoria) in the “For Purpose and Social Enterprise” category.


- Show Notes -
Indicators of a Thriving Workplace 2020: The latest Report from Australia’s largest workplace mental health study features unique insights into COVID-19’s profound impact on workers around the nation: https://superfriend.com.au/resources/itw/ 

- SUBSCRIBE, RATE & REVIEW THE SHOW  -
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/02aqR5aly0A7ZSiktQrA2X
Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/understood/id1522620849/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb35WjXg5PZG6ZfbNm1AaRA/

- Hotline phone number is -
+61419689311

- Website -
www.mitchwallis.com

- Find me on social media -
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mitch.wallis/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mitchwallism...
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mitchwallis/

Show Notes Transcript

Today's guest is Margo Lydon. In this episode we cover:

  • The most recent insights relating to corporate mental health in Australia from the country's largest wellbeing survey 
  • An overview of the 5 core domains of a thriving workplace 
  • What some organisations aren't doing well to support their staff (and what they could be doing more right)
  • How COVID has impacted Australian workers (with a surprising finding)
  • What leaders can do to serve their team more effectively

About Margo Lydon
Margo has been working in mental health and suicide prevention for 20 years. She is the CEO of SuperFriend - one of Australia's leading Workplace Mental Health Organisations. Margo holds a Master of Science, Positive Organization Development and Change and a Bachelor of Business Degree (Marketing). She was a finalist in the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards (Victoria) in the “For Purpose and Social Enterprise” category.


- Show Notes -
Indicators of a Thriving Workplace 2020: The latest Report from Australia’s largest workplace mental health study features unique insights into COVID-19’s profound impact on workers around the nation: https://superfriend.com.au/resources/itw/ 

- SUBSCRIBE, RATE & REVIEW THE SHOW  -
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/02aqR5aly0A7ZSiktQrA2X
Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/understood/id1522620849/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb35WjXg5PZG6ZfbNm1AaRA/

- Hotline phone number is -
+61419689311

- Website -
www.mitchwallis.com

- Find me on social media -
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mitch.wallis/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mitchwallism...
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mitchwallis/

Mitch Wallis:

Welcome back you beautiful animals to another episode of understood the psychology podcast helping you to understand your mind so that you can learn to make sense of your life and love yourself. I'm your host, Mitch Wallis, and I'm excited to be back here doing this with you again today. Today's guest is an amazing human. Her name is Margot Lydon or Leyden depending on how you want to mispronounce it, which I often do. And she's a friend of mine, and a colleague of mine. She's the CEO of super friend, an organisation I also sit on the board for and superfriends mission is to create a mentally healthy workplace environment across Australia for all Australians, they initially started their focus in the insurance and superannuation industry, but now extend beyond that. And I am very honoured and privileged to to do that work with them. Margo is an incredibly esteemed and credible person when it comes to workplace well being. Margo holds a Masters of Science positive organisation development and change degree from the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a Bachelor of Business degree from the University of Queensland. She sits on several boards, including the mentally healthy workplace Alliance Group here in Australia. She was at Telstra Business Award finalist for Woman of the Year in the social enterprise category. And I just think she, more than anything, is the right person to take us through a masterclass in mental health at work, because superfriends just released Australia's largest workplace wellbeing study. And I don't think there'd be anyone more valid or correct to have in the country right now to talk about to talk about workplace mental health and her because of how amazingly comprehensive this report is. And she's going to give us the insights to where things are going well, where things aren't going so well what the impact of COVID is, etc, etc. So if you're a business leader, I would definitely tune in because we go through the exact tactics and strategies you can implement, to create a better environment for your people to thrive, which results in higher productivity, less churn, etc, etc. So I'm excited to introduce her to you today. So without further ado, here's Margo, You've been in the mental health space for a while now, haven't you?

Margo Lydon:

Yeah, look, 20 years, I've been in and around the mental health sector and suicide prevention sector and started sort of the 10 first 10 years working in a private outpatient facility where we treated people with eating disorders. And we had a really person centred approach to treatment. It was a bit of ahead of its of its time, you know, when you go back sort of 10 plus years, 20 years into treatment, it was very much around how we supported the individual, their family and their friends, and anyone else in their circle of support, including their puppy dogs, or rabbits or whatever, you know, school counsellors or friends or whoever. We had over 100 clients at the peak and we had clients from all over Australia and part of my role was to because I'm not clinically trained. Part of my role, though, was to really provide support to family and carers as well as, as the clients from a day to day basis from a you know, non clinical perspective. And I took about 15,000 inquiry calls about our programme. So in 10 years when you spend sort of 45 minutes to an hour with 15,000 people, you hear a lot of stories, of lipsticks perience and payment going really tough times. And I guess that's where my passion and love for making a real difference in people's lives not just giving people facts sheets that take them nowhere and really just give them a very high level of what they already know. And this is about what are the tangible practical actions that actually help make a difference in people's lives. And whether that's the individual themselves experiencing a mental health condition, or whether it's, you know, someone who loves them and supports them and cares for them and wants to actually understand and make a difference, even more. So. It's, that's really where a lot of the passion from my perspective comes from.

Mitch Wallis:

And was the passion there before that role had you had to what you're comfortable sharing had you had lived experience, up until that point?

Margo Lydon:

Look, I have had my own lived experience, I experienced anxiety and depression, and certainly have quite significant OCD tendencies from time to time. But I guess the, you know, like many people with lived experience, you know, you kind of go, I have an enormous amount of empathy and compassion for others, but not for myself. And so I really hadn't, I guess joined the dots or connected with my own mental work, mental health issues and my own well being issues, until I walked in that door and needed to be authentic and walk the talk, it's very hard to get across the floor, often sitting on the floor with a client in, in, you know, some level of crisis, emotional crisis or whatever, and not have that sense of Hang on a second, what am I doing about my own well being here, as I'm asking someone to look after themselves, despite the fact that's the very last thing they want to actually do, because their illness inside their head is, is telling them to do everything opposite. So there's a there was a real, you know, I talked about having 10 years of unpaid therapy, where I didn't have to pay for it, but I, I had the benefit of reflective opportunities of my own well being, during that 10 years and being taught by the most incredible people on the planet. And they were our clients are so generous, and kind and, and vulnerable and open and honest and challenging, and just amazing human beings. And that taught me a lot about the human spirit, and that we are far more resilient than we think we are. We're far more courageous than we think we are. And a lot of people, particularly when they have the dignified support that's somewhat educated, not even overly educated, but somewhat educated. around them, it's lost saving, it's life changing, it's, it's phenomenal. And then you see, you know, a club or back in the door, you know, two or three years after they finish treatment with you with a baby in their arms, and you think, Oh my god, you know, this person was on the on death's door. And, you know, they bring, they bring this incredible sense of I'm gonna get emotional now, a sense of life, and, and you know, what life is actually all about. And that's that connection and belonging, finding meaning and purpose in the world. And that's a different path for everybody. I think the other thing, which that really, I have to mention is, you know, just having people in my life who I've lost to suicide, and supporting really Dear loved ones, who have lost family members to suicide, my best friend in the whole wide world, lost her brother 12 years ago to suicide, and it's not a day where I don't think of him I, you know, I grew up with him, he was, I've known in my entire life. So, you know, there's not a day where that doesn't also add to the motivation of making a real difference. And I think the opportunity that we have when we combine our love and our passion for making making people's lives better, and really recognising the challenges and the opportunities that mental health brains, whether it's an illness, end of the spectrum or health end of the spectrum, both I believe bring challenge and opportunities. And I think we can bring that into our world of work and workplaces. And particularly during, you know, challenging times, whether it is a global pandemic or a recession, or whether it's a you know, economic downturn and another time in our lives, or whether it's an economic upturn, and we've got demands that are, you know, blowing that business out of the water, I think we've got to recognise the role that we have as humans, in the first instance beyond getting the job done.

Mitch Wallis:

Totally, totally. And I can feel I can feel all the different layers of care there from you and how you ended up in a space like this. And it's incredibly evident in the way that you conduct yourself every day, working alongside you. I have the privilege to do that and just how much not just knowledge but impact you have in the work you do. It's super friend and very few people kind of walk the walk. But you definitely do that. And I take my hat off to, and I hold what you just said to me with, with care, because it is very real.

Margo Lydon:

And such beautiful words means a lot coming from you, too.

Mitch Wallis:

Thank you, of course, of course. And we, I feel very, very lucky to be able to speak to you, not just as a as a friend and a colleague, as someone with lived experience as someone with huge experience in the industry. But as someone who now runs super friend, which I've mentioned in the intro, and superfriends work is truly outstanding, particularly in the corporate space. And you've recently only last week launched. Yet again, Australia's largest mental well being survey in the workplace arena. And I would say you out of any person in the country right now would have more of an insight into corporate mental health in Australia and where we stand than anyone else. And so I want to start off by saying, or asking you from the 2020 results of the corporate wellbeing study or what you call indicators of a thriving workplace. Can you give people a bit of an overview as to what that study was and what the indicators are.

Margo Lydon:

So this is Australia's largest and longest running workplace mental health and wellbeing survey. And we survey over 10,000 Australians every year, it is a representative sample of the Australian working population. So we align it to the abs, Australian Bureau stats categories around industry and age and other demographics. And what we what we really are trying to do is measure and track how mentally healthy or how thriving workplaces are. Now, when we talk about mentally healthy workplaces, there are absolutely indicators that speak to specific mental health initiatives. But there are also other indicators. And this is how we've sort of grouped all of our indicators. There are other indicators that talk to things like leadership or talk to things like capability. That's not necessarily just about mental health, but it's about how we interact with people. So we've created 14, scientifically validated by the University of Queensland indicators. Now to give you an example, one of them is people say hello, and use please and thank you. So we're not talking rocket science, nor are we talking timely or expensive necessarily. There are certainly indicators about good return to work policies when somebody has had a mental health condition and a needing to come back in well supported into the workplace. But you know, by and large, we're talking about how work and workplaces really support their entire workforce, in, you know, really providing the opportunity for people to be their best, do good work, and go home with energy to spare. And that's really what it's measuring. So we've been running this survey for six years, the last three years, the indicators have remained consistent, we haven't changed a single indicator. And so we've been tracking Australia's progress towards what we would define as a as a thriving workplace or a thriving state. So it's a score out of 100 at a national level, and we're currently in 2020, scoring 65.1, which is up 2.4 points from last year. So who would have thought in the middle of a global pandemic and the emergence of a recession and off the back of drought and bushfires and other, you know, horrendous things that have happened globally, as well as here in Australia, that we've actually seen more businesses, more industries, more companies and workers moving towards a much more thriving workplace. What we've done with the 40 indicators, as I said, is sort of break them up into five domains. And it's important to mention those because it really gives you a sense of how we classify or define a mentally healthy workplace. So we have eight indicators in each of these ones under leadership, one's under connectedness, one's under policy and policies about policy and practices in action. We've got one under capability. And we've got the last one on the culture. And what we know is that, you know, workplace mental health is a construct, there's multiple factors to it, and it's constantly dynamic and moving. So it's not just about saying, Oh, we've got an AIP, tick went down. This is about recognising the leaders have a role as do workers have a role as do policy and practices in inaction, have a role, as do you know, how we build that sense of connectedness across our workplaces, that has a role. It's all about being interconnected. And that's a really important factor for workplaces to consider is it's a bit of a journey. Even though some people hate that word. It is a bit of a journey. It's a process. It's a progress, and we are measuring that progress across the board. Yup. And because of the sample size, we're able to do deep dives into particular different industries, different demographics. See how casual workers are, you know, experiencing workplace, workplaces versus part time and full time, just as as examples.

Mitch Wallis:

Yeah. Cuz I, you know, I speak to a lot of HR managers and CEOs and stuff on an almost daily basis, and people say like, what is a mentally healthy workplace? And for some reason, whenever I think about that question, you know, when someone says, well, what's mentally healthy workplace, you can't really define it. And I say, That's like saying, What's good parenting, you can't really define it maybe long ago. But there are literally books on this stuff now. And like, of course, it's subjective. And it's going to change from person to person, culture to culture. But the work that super friend is doing in this report literally gives you almost an ingredient list of not only the things to measure, but the things to do to help create that, that work that working environment now. So just to summarise what Margo said, there are 40 indicators that sit in five categories that are scientifically validated and has been running for six years. So we have a pretty good hold on this right. So Margot also mentioned that 65 65% of workplace Oh, sorry, we're out of 65 out of 100 points is where we sit on average on the scale, which is up a little bit, which is great. I mean, up anything in this environment is good. But technically speaking, a throat you know, quote unquote, thriving workplace, what you would determine as thriving is one that sits at points or above on the scale, and only 5% of workplaces have met that threshold. So can you talk to me a bit about what what is a workplace that would be sitting at 65? Would we even call them mentally healthy? And what's the difference between someone who's thriving,

Margo Lydon:

so we would certainly say that, you know, 65, out of 100 is or 65. But one out of 100 is, is better than where we've been. More workplaces are therefore leaning in and supporting their workers. And, you know, we've got some statistics that support from the research that supports that. But for those organisations that are in the thriving category, 80 or above, what we're seeing that's quite different is that they are leaning in and doing doing and that's the underscore doing a lot more intangible actions across their entire business to support the well being of their entire workforce. So we would classify out of the 40 indicators, we've identified about 11 of the indicators that are really tangible and practical. And they're practical for the business to be able to control and own and make them fit for purpose for their business, which is really important for stickability and sustainability of those indicators. And what we are seeing is the organisations that are scoring 80 or above the ones that are putting at least 80 of these actions in place across their workplace. So one of those actions as an example. And it's actually one of the ones that has the biggest ripple on the pond effect is that people leaders, and this is leaders across all levels across an organisation regularly under score regularly receive mental health and well being training. So what we know from that particular indicator is when organisations have implemented that, one is it sits within the policy area. So even in an economic downturn, it doesn't get stopped, it actually continues, it's a really important. And secondly, it's about all people, leaders across the business so that you have this whole of business approach. And we know from the science and the research, that integrated approach for taking a finding five workers who go to work every single day approach, not only the one in five, who might be experiencing a mental health condition, or in our case, 60% of the workforce experiencing a mental health condition, as we've determined through this survey, we are taking a whole of business and whole of workforce approach. So it's helping people who may not be classified, you know, by by medical practitioners as having a mental health condition, it may be catching people who are at risk, who have poor mental health, it might be also keeping those that are well well and that's really important for business. So we know that when we've got those organisations that 5% of those organisations, putting in place idle, more productivity goes up, people love their jobs, they want to stay index, index score goes up, but it also goes up across all of the five domains. We have decreased mental health stigma, which is really important in a workplace because it is one of the hardest things to shift. We have decreased levels of staff experiencing negative or harmful stress. And that might be workload stress, it might be customer interaction, stress, it might be a whole range of things. And really importantly, we have a decreased number of people who have a mental health condition who attribute their work and their workplace. To causing or exacerbating the mental health condition. So, you know, all of the social and economic indicators, for those organisations that are thriving, are absolutely up when we've got both organisations that are investing, and I'm not talking about necessarily monetarily investing, but putting this as a priority across their entire business, in women,

Mitch Wallis:

that's really key, it's not just spending the money, it's spending the time and shifting the DNA of an organisation. And as you've just articulated, it is worth it, that I think a lot of organisations avoid some macro structural skeletal changes, because it's gonna be a short term possible growing pain, it's gonna hurt in the short term to change some of these big things. But as you've said, It is so worth it because of the benefits that you get, not just to your people, but to your bottom line. And so we really want to see, I guess, and I'm sure that you would support this, that more organisations qualify for that 80 or above scores, so that that 5% of workplaces turns into I mean, ideally, 100% of workplaces are thriving, right. And I don't think even though there's a good news story, that we have seen an increase in that thriving score by a little bit, I don't think we should settle for where we're currently at. You know, I think all organisations should be striving for thriving, not just sustaining or surviving. And, and so you mentioned leadership training is possibly or probably the the single greatest one tactic you can do that's going to benefit every domain of the organisation. And I want to be back,

Margo Lydon:

and every worker. And I think that's one of the key things, Mitch is that this is something that improves the leaders capability and confidence as a leader. And it matters, it makes a difference to every single worker, it builds trust, Authenticity, all of the really good stuff that we know that leaders of today really need to be walking the talking.

Mitch Wallis:

And do you think that the reason why that's so beneficial is because most people, most employees, don't expect their organisation to solve the issue. And that all the perks like kombucha and green smoothies and salads are nice to have, the biggest one is just to be able to bring more of their real self to work and be able to have open and honest conversations with their manager so that they feel cared about. Do you think that's why leadership training is so important because it is the most fundamental aspect of I would take an empathetic culture and the ability to feel seen as a full human over pretty much any other benefit.

Margo Lydon:

And we know that from research beyond this study that that workers really value being heard workers really valued doing something meaningful and purposeful. When you think about leaders, you know, we're brought up in this society in Australian society to look up to people, you know, whether it's in our school, and we look up to the year 12. Or whether it's, you know, as we enter the workforce, we look up to you know, who's that CEO or that senior leader. And we've really got to recognise that leaders have an incredible opportunity to influence behaviour and change across an entire workforce. And so what this leadership training really does is it does give the skill and the capability to the leader, but it also affects that culture of care, it affects that the way that the organisation actually operates and what it prioritises what I love to see. And we know that the science, again behind is behind this is that when leaders balanced the head and the heart in decisions, and in fact, when our brain toggles between the two, and when we're talking about we're talking about empathy, we're talking about compassion, we're talking about how this particular decision will influence and impact the emotional and well being of our people. When we're talking head, we're often talking the numbers and the, you know, what is it going to do to the bottom line or, or what particular risk factor that we're trying to, you know, mitigate against? So when we actually combine our head and our heart in good decision making, we make better decisions. And what this training does is it amplifies or lifts up the visibility and the capability of a little bit more heart in the decision making.

Mitch Wallis:

You're talking to the right guy for heart. So when we when we're making it, there it is, when we when we actually are making good decisions. We are you know our brains are toggling between the two. And I think what we've got to recognise is that we've got a workforce particularly in 2020 that have experience against a greater sense of connection than ever before, we've got the schools to prove it. Leaders are much more visible, accountable, a lot more willing to listen, they're backing in their teams and really championing their teams, they're being a lot more authentic in their own well being, we're seeing leaders that are considered on a level, much more level playing field than ever before, you know, the opportunity to actually sit in inside the lounge room of your your boss, as they were around, and not have to knock on the door on, you know, three floors, that kind of stuff, you know, just puts everybody on it level playing field. So we've got this incredible pivot in the way that we are seeing and experiencing leadership in Australia. And that I think provides us with a tremendous opportunity to look at the leaders of tomorrow, and how the current leaders have today through good mental health and well being training that is fit for purpose for the business that they're running. It's not all about just one on one sort of stuff. This is about recognising that some businesses will interact with customers or have staff who are at much higher risk of poor mental health, mental illness, suicide, etc. So we've got to have it fit for purpose. But when leaders actually have that good quality training on a regular basis, it allows for much more trusted conversations, more vulnerability, for better supports to be put in place for accommodations to be made to allow for flexible work arrangements for a whole host of reasons, all of the good stuff that leads to productivity. So this is this is why it's so critically important. We see leaders are well trained, and it is the best bang for your buck, Without it yet. It is your best bang. And I want to come back to this positive action story at the end. But before we get into some of these amazing solutions, I want to keep teasing out some of the some of the structural things that we need to change. And I think for me, what was super alarming is that we've seen a rise to 60% of Australian workers experiencing a mental ill health condition, which is up 9%. year on year. But like that's alarming that it's up that much. But I think for me, if you look at the national average, and it's pretty much a global average about one in five people, depending on what paper you read, perhaps one in four, but let's go with 20% of people of the general population. That means that three times the amount of the general population compared to the working population are experiencing mental ill health condition. What do you think companies are doing wrong at the moment? And by the way, that that's not necessarily saying that work has caused it, we'll get into causation in a second. Because we know what let's just get into it now. So 43% of of those people affected by mental ill health 43% of that 60% have said that their workplace has caused or aggravated a mental ill health condition, which to me was alarming. Because, you know, I think the number one role of workplace mental health is don't make someone worse, if you didn't even support them supporting themselves. I say you never need to fix someone's illness. Just don't make them worse, and help them help themselves. But we're by those stats, what we're seeing is we've got a higher portion of Australia who are in the working population affected, and half of them saying that the workplace caused it. So what are these workplaces doing wrong? Do you think well, what should workplaces be avoiding? And are they acting illegally?

Margo Lydon:

I think we've got laws in Australia, and we have had for quite some time that every workplace, every employer needs to provide a psychologically safe work environment. Let's just unpack that for a moment. The psychological safety of a workplace is actually not only the employers responsibility, but it's the workers responsibilities as well. Great. So this is this is very much a mutual contract of coming to work that you're going to turn up and you all you as a worker, and not necessarily not going to harm a colleague. And so that speaks to the bullying and harassment and those sort of types of behaviours that we know are damaging and toxic and really harmful

Mitch Wallis:

job strain job demand all that stuff. Yeah,

Margo Lydon:

absolutely. So I think we've got the laws are in place. And we've got to recognise that, you know, the vast majority of workplaces are definitely not causing, you know, harm to people but we do have this proportion of Australian workers who do say that their current workplace is either causing or worsening their mental health condition. Now, it may not be to the point under the law, that it is able to be prosecuted so it may not result in a work WorkCover claim or a It might not result in a life insurance claim because people have insurance through their superannuation. But I think the very fact that we've got 43% of people with a live experience of mental health condition being attributing their mental health worsening because of their workplace is atrocious. When we actually look at that as a whole of population, Mitch and compared to last year, it's actually we are getting a little bit better. So last year, we would say in 2019, about and it's just under 22% of the workforce. So this is the entire workforce 22% of the workforce would say that the their mental health condition was worsened or caused by their workplace. This year, we're down to 17%. So we're heading in the right direction. And that's because we've got better connectedness scores, their leadership scores, we've got actually all five domains scores have actually gone up, and hence the national scores gone up. But I think coming back to your point is that we've got to recognise what it is that that is causing people's mental health condition to be worse. Now, again, from this report, which you can download from the superframe website, some of the data is in there to actually tell you, so organisations and industries where we've got high casualized workers as an example, these workers are feeling disconnected from their team, they're not seeing the mental health initiatives in place, and they're not experiencing those practical actions in in in place in their workplaces. They're feeling disconnected from their leaders. They are dealing with incivility, so they're not being treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. So they're experiencing work in a much more harmful way. So we've got to look at what are the factors that are causing particular cohorts to feel, feel that they're, you know, unexperienced that their mental health is declining? I think the other end of the spectrum is to look at some of the industries. So what are some of the industries that have been hardest hit this year, and those are industries that also employ casual workers such as hospitality, retail, etc. So the art industry is another big one, and tourism and so on. So we've really got to have a look at recognising that there are many workplaces who are making sure that their people are well, they're doing some great job, you know, a great job in connectedness, and, and all of the good things. But there are parts of the workforce that our mental health is declining, and it is far too many Australians, without a doubt.

Mitch Wallis:

And so I'm going to ask the question that everyone's thinking, which is, but how is COVID affected these scores? And we're gonna get to that in just a second. But it, can you because I like threes? And I know, my listeners love, just tell me the answer. Can you say what are three things that workplaces are doing wrong? Not yet how they fix it? We'll get to that. But what do you think are three things that workplaces that are doing are doing poorly.

Margo Lydon:

So I would say not training people leaders would be a number one, we've only got 12% of the Australian workforce, who strongly agree that that's actually in place in their workplace. So not training on a regular basis, people leaders, I think we've got workplaces where the head and the heart is out of balance, and we're making far too many head decisions. And that's having a detrimental consequence to people's well being now that could turn up in bad job design, workload, stress, that's of a negative type of stress on a prolonged and dangerous level. those sort of things. The The other thing that I think is that workplaces are not prioritising workplace mental health and well being. And I would say that as a result of really recognising that we've got a long way to go, for workplaces that are, you know, putting in place some tangible actions to make a difference. So those are certainly the top three things is I think it's how do we embed good work practices. At the end of the day, this is how we treat each other. This is how we make decisions. This is about what capability What do we ask of people when we give them a job to do and how we support them in doing a good job. That's what this comes down to. And, you know, to me, this is about understanding your own business, and co designing what we could be doing collectively as our team, our organisation to actually improve it and asking your own people when you've got limited budget and resources. It's amazing what people come up with to make solutions that

Mitch Wallis:

Oh, yeah. I get asked all the time. Hey, you know, we we're here to work like, you know, we this isn't necessarily charity, in our case it is but we're here to work. We're here to do a job. We can't baby our people. And they say how do you know if it's the job that's causing the stress or that person just isn't handling a normal workload? How do you determine those two things? How would you respond to something like that?

Margo Lydon:

comes down to three questions that you ask. And that is, what do you need from me as your leader, to support you to do the job that we've employed you to do? So you've applied for this job? And this is a really good entry question. Like when somebody first starts, you've applied for this job, you've got this job, this is exciting times. But what do you need from me as your leader to do the job that we've asked you to do? Number two is what is it that you're going to do to support yourself and your own well being to do the job that you're going to do? So that's that mutual pace? And then the third question, which is really important, like a three legged stool, you don't ask it you're full of it, is when things don't go as planned? How are you? How is that going to turn up? And how do you want me to approach you? And how are we going to come to solutions together? So it's got nothing to do with about mental illness? It's got nothing to do with mental health? It is got to do with? How do I support you to do your job? How are you going to support yourself to do the job? And if things don't go, Okay, and let's face it, you know, we all make mistakes, there are times when we're not our best? How is it that I'm going to know that you're not at your best, you're not coping? What are some of those signals and signs? And how do you want me to approach you? How are we going to solve that together?

Mitch Wallis:

So it's really leaning in leaning into those hard conversations up front?

Margo Lydon:

Well, I wouldn't even say they're hard. I think they were about getting to know someone, I think it's about building trust and vulnerability. And, you know, let's turn that around. And this is how you're going to say me as your leader, this is how I'm not when I'm not at my best. And trust me and my team know me when I'm not at my best, you know, I get snappy, I get direct, I get, you know, my anxiety is up, etc. So I'm not a great person when I'm not at my best. So how you can just, you know, begin a relationship with somebody, that's a work relationship that is focused on the work not on outside life, but focused on the work, and how you get to know that person, and they get to know you as a leader.

Mitch Wallis:

Yeah, I think the key there is, the person has to fulfil the inherent requirements of the role in which they're employed to do period. And if they hopefully, if it is a good fit, you will be able to support each other by being able to attain that. Another, I think your three suggestions are amazing. An extension to that is I always ask, you probably have more than one person in that role employed in the organisation. So I would look at other people in that role, giving the same feedback, because if you've got nine account managers out of 10, for example, complaining that they are hanging by a thread, you've probably got a job design issue, if you've got one of those 10 complaining, they're not doing well, you might have a role fit issue, or a person going through a hard time, which you would individually manage to see if they can get up to speed. And you would use reasonable adjustments and time off to accommodate, hopefully a long lasting solution. And if that doesn't work, then we would look at alternatives. Maybe that person's in the wrong industry. Who knows? But I think on top of your questions, which is leaning into what does success look like from the start? And and being clear that this is a relationship, not a transaction is really key, and then also using insights and data to see is this systemic? Or is this more individual? And so talk? Sorry, yeah, go please respond to that. Yeah,

Margo Lydon:

I was gonna say I think it is about, really, at the core of it, how do the workers inside my business, my organisation experience, my organisation speaks to the heart of a culture, which speaks to the heart of how they experience leadership, which speaks to the heart of how they experience each other in a sense of belonging, connectedness and purpose and meaning of my work? And how does that fit to the broader, bigger picture of what we're trying to achieve together? as an organisation. So to me, this is really and this is where the indicators, absolutely critical is that it does give an organisation a really good snapshot of how your people experience their work. their workplace is not about an engagement score. This is not an engagement type of survey. This is about how do people experience the work in the workplace, across these five domains and the 40 indicators.

Mitch Wallis:

And so let's let's talk about a big experience, which is the COVID experience. How do you think it's impacted the numbers this year? What are the what are the kind of the not so great, and what are the actual unexpected positives?

Margo Lydon:

So I'll start with the article. Expected positives because you know me made sure I'm an optimist and I'm in my cup of optimism. The I think we've had an enormous number of silver linings, we've had Australia and Australian businesses pivot on a dime, way back in March. And we've had the opportunity for people to experience they work their work colleagues and their workplaces very differently. And by and large, we are seeing that the vast majority of Australian workers mental health and well being has improved. We are seeing people's physical health improved. We're seeing productivity for some go up. And we're certainly seeing our connectedness score amongst the other five domains also go up. Now I'll speak to connectedness because it is to me the probably the the critical heart as to why we've seen scores go up this year in COVID. And then is we've had this incredible level playing field. Everybody like in a natural disaster, you take the bushfires in it as an example. Only parts of Australia experience the bullfight. Yes, we also don't set on our couches if we weren't directly experiencing her. And you know, our hearts absolutely bled for for our fellow Australians, and the beautiful wildlife and all of the damage and the destruction. But COVID is impacting every single one of us. And although we're experiencing that differently, you know, I'm a one in four of Australian households or lone person households, that's that's me, but many others are in households where there's 356, you know, more people. So we experience things differently. Some people are homeschooling, some are not, etc. But what I think it's done is it's given us this much stronger sense overall, in community. And one of the leading indicators that we actually knows we've done some factor analysis is that for connectedness, work feels like a community beyond getting the job done. Now, I don't know a single year where that hasn't come to the fore, in nearly every conversation a lot of people have been having with their colleagues or with their boss or whatever. So that sense of community beyond getting the job done, the sense of I belong, this sense of connectedness. COVID has given us a language and given us an opportunity to connect with in on that. What I hope going forward, is that we really carry that into the future. And we design the world of work, job design, as well as going back to work design, as well as what does work look like, into the future, because that will bode well for us as human beings and what we need psychologically, as well as what will bode well for getting Australia back, performing economically. So I'm really hopeful that Australian businesses and business leaders in particular, are paying attention to what their people are telling them has worked, what are the silver linings that are coming out of that out of this time, and we're only partway through it. So biggest psychological experiment of all time. So you know, we are only partway through this, we don't know where this is going to finish or end. And I think therefore, we've got to balance the fatigue side of things, which is some of the negatives. We've got to balance the fatigue side of things with those silver linings. But I would be really encouraging everyone who's listening who's in any level of influencing side of businesses to co design what the future looks like of your business, co design, how going back to work looks like I've been horrified to hear some businesses forcing people back to work in, in some jurisdictions, some areas around the country where they can work from home, but they've been forced to go back into the office. And I think that is just appalling. We've got to recognise different people respond differently in different times of stress. And COVID has certainly raised a huge amount of health anxiety and other stressors for people. So I'd be really encouraging people to just listen to their people engage in it, people. They'll have some amazing inputs and insights that can actually help your business survive and get out of that struggle to survive and to thrive back into thriving.

Mitch Wallis:

Yeah, because we've seen, I'm glad that that that is the story because I hop on all the time around the fact that connection helps us cope more than anything and then a problem becomes far less impactful or heavy without necessarily even changing its size simply by connecting through it. We unfortunately have seen a huge rise in calls to Lifeline and beyond blue and in such a during the pandemic. So it is this toxic sense of loneliness and uncertainty that is getting people at the moment, right. Okay,

Margo Lydon:

I actually think it's great that we've seen an increase in calls to Lifeline and Beyond Blue. To me, it is far better that people are not sitting on the couch at home on their own or even, you know, within a family unit and struggling and, and not reaching out. So I think it's been fantastic that we've had. And it's not only beyond living life on there many other help lines that are out there that have experienced increased call volumes. I think this is really, really good that Australians are recognising that there is help out there. And it's and it's online chats, it's not only via via phone, I do believe that we've got this great, this great opportunity to help people get to the health that they actually need that's tailored to their needs. And this is a this is where as you said earlier, the workplace can play an incredible role is not to try to solve the mental ill health, but to actually recognise that work can play and needs to play and does play when it's when it's good, and incredible role in actually helping people get back to wellness and functioning in life. So finishing work and you know, sitting on the couch, because you've been diagnosed with depression and getting out of the workplace is not necessarily the very best thing for for the vast majority of people who experienced mild to moderate mental health conditions, staying connected in some way shape or form to their work colleagues in the workplace is actually far better for the vast majority. We've got to help employers recognise stay at work during a mental health condition is far better than returning to work because you've had time out of the workplace.

Mitch Wallis:

Yeah, and all the research supports that, that they're getting better at work is better than trying to get better outside of work unless it's extremely acute. And then therefore short term is good, but medium to long term is not good. So you said that there's 1111 key actions that we have out of the 40. And this is all publicly available information that's downloadable in the Superdome website. We've only got 10 minutes left. So can you rapid fire at me just for the sake of our listeners that don't want to download the report? Those 11 Top 11 indicators or actions?

Margo Lydon:

I certainly can.

Mitch Wallis:

I'll just give you a second to pull that up. Sorry that that wasn't enough briefing.

Margo Lydon:

All, good. All, goo . So what el I just to start with, there are three that are associated with education and professional development, that are five that are much more around policies and practices. And the most important thing about the policies is that they need to be visible. And in action across the workplace, there's no point just having them on an intranet that nobody knows about, they have to be visible. And that's when they become tangible and impactful. And then the last three, we would probably describe a bit more as business as usual type of activities that are less specific mental health related. So the first three around the training and professional development. The number one is leaders regularly participate in mental health modelling training, and I've talked to the importance of that, and the impact of that, and it's massive. The second is just around General Staff having access to mental health and well being education. The third is around staff having professional development opportunities. And the science behind that is that when we learn and grow, and our brains learn and grow, it's actually good for our well being.

Mitch Wallis:

And we love progress as human species. Yeah,

Margo Lydon:

we do we do. Number four is around mental health and well being policies that are visible and inaction. Number five is effective policies and practices on bullying and harassment, and please underscore effective. Number six is good return to work policies and practices. And when we say good, it's about people coming back in a really supported way into changes and accommodations that really support their return to a gradual return to work if needed. Number seven is good change management. Now this is about you know, changes every single day in every business in in every industry. But good change management practices are where we have clear, supportive and positive change principles in place. So this is about good regular communication and transparent communication about the change about the why of the change. And engaging people in the change is far better from a well being perspective than a dictating top of change from the top down. So it's about how we do change management. Number eight is around EAP or other confidential counselling services and supports that are available to people really important. Number nine is acknowledging people for good work. So this is the reward and recognition the thank yous that don't cost anything but mean an enormous amount. Number 10 is around transparent decision making. So this speaks to a little bit again around that time. Management, but in any decisions that are being made across an organisation having a level of transparency as to the rationale that comes behind the decision. And what the decision is, is far more effective in really helping people adjust to the decision that's being made. Our psychology means that we as humans like to control things. So when a decision is made, or change happens outside our control, the more we can help people to control it themselves by giving them information to make sense of it. And that making meaning is really important, makes a difference. And then number 11 is work life family integration and supports and practices. And I think we've seen a massive uptake in that this year and the benefits of that this year, you know, working from home as it used to be sort of, you know, the the spoken about that, you know, people didn't actually work that they sort of took the afternoon off or or whatever. I think we've actually recognised that that's a furphy. You know, people are mature, they're adults, they're capable of working from home and doesn't mean they're dishwashers on all their washing machines on and, you know, they better hang the clothes out or take the dog for a walk around the block at lunchtime. Yeah, absolutely. But the vast majority of people benefit from having really good work life integration, particularly for people whose roles are as carers of children of elderly people of people with mental health or disability. And I think we've just got to recognise that Australians, by and large, need to be trusted to do a good job. And if you give them a good job to do, they're most likely to do it and do it really well. Yeah,

Mitch Wallis:

yeah. It's amazing summarising that into 11 actions, because I know people people like those very tangible points. And, and we've seen that if companies, the more actions that a company employs, the more it has a mentally healthy effect. Right. So there is a correlation between action and outcome a huge one, in fact that the the report showed

Margo Lydon:

Absolutely. And likewise, mental health concerns are the most common reason for lower productivity this year affecting three and five workers. So you know, this is a this is another further calls to action for workplaces, we've got to say, more investment in workplace mental health, those that have implemented at least eight tangible actions to improve the workforces, mental health and well being consistently have high proportions of workers that are more productive. So, you know, the evidence is there, it no matter the way we cut this data, Mitch, no matter what, you know, whatever we look at it, the more organisations do, and this isn't just awareness raising, that's a great place to start. But this is about doing. The more they do, the better it is for everybody, the workplace, the economy, our communities, and most definitely the Australian working population.

Mitch Wallis:

Yeah, and obviously, those those indicators that we just listed off then on collectively exhaustive, and, you know, I can think of two off the top of my head that I know work really well. One is storytelling to normalise stigma, and other SP support programmes to encourage help seeking behaviour internally, which I think comes back to both of them accruing to this connection element, as well as other things like reviewing job demand and etc, etc. But the thing that I'm really proud of to see happening and this report validates, is that there is a need to switch away from the externalisation solution of mental health toward more of an internal focus one, and what I mean by that is, I think in years past, it's always been that thing that should be outside of the of the of the corridors. And if and when it comes into the corridors, we send people back outside to deal with it. You know, EAP was basically the mental health strategy, period, full stop, what we're starting to realise is things like EAP has become a tactic in a much broader scope of a well being plan that isn't just about sending people outside, but looking internally to say, How can we prevent anything that we're responsible for? causing someone's mental ill health? And then even when, even if it doesn't have something to do with this, how can we internally try and support that person through recovery, without and a very important part to finish that sentence on without necessarily taking on board liability or burden that isn't ours to hold? Because I really do feel for leaders who often say, I don't want to make things worse, but I also don't want to overstep my boundaries and become responsible for things that aren't mine. And I think that with the right amount of training and education, and just general commitment, we can walk that line, it's not as black and white as we'd like it to be because we love control and certainty in absolutes, but we can find that really healthy balance and there are companies all across the country that are doing that.

Margo Lydon:

Look, I would totally agree. I think you know when you talk to most businesses, particularly in Australia these days You know, we're in a knowledge economy, you know, the businesses talk about their number one assets are their people. So why would you outsource your number one assets? Well being to a third party provider that you're just contracting a transactional relationship with? It makes no sense. It makes absolutely no sense. Why wouldn't you invest in the capability of your people, leaders that can have that massive ripple on the pond effect across your entire workforce? Why wouldn't you invest in them having sustainable behaviour change leaders, such as effective mental health and wellbeing training, coupled with system lever changes, which is your policies in action? Why wouldn't you invest internally, to get the, you know, the best out of the Act, the most valuable asset that you have, which are your people? And I think it's not knit, you know, I don't want people to hear that and say, you know, this is all about monetization of humans. This is about recognising that we do as as people really want to be able to contribute. And you know, the National Mental Health Commission talks about a contributing line, we do as humans want to be able to contribute to things that are bigger and better than ourselves and work and workplaces. Give us that opportunity to do that. So don't outsource, you know, the most important part of your business. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.

Mitch Wallis:

Yeah. We are at time, oh, my God, I think we could go on for about three and a half days, weeks years. You and I are chatting together, I really I really hope that someone listening to this has got something from it. If whether you're a business leader or an employee, it is a good news story. I think we have a ways to go. But I think the cliff notes is that things have gotten better. Despite COVID we have become closer. And we are set in the right context to make a meaningful change. Depending on the decisions we make in the next few years will really shape the way that the next decade goes. We've got a lot of people caring more than usual. We've got a lot of big hearts out there wanting to do the right thing. And I think it's really important that we keep educating that that intention and motivation into productive actions. And you have definitely contributed to our ability to do that today, Margo, so thank you so much for joining me,

Margo Lydon:

Mitch, it's been an absolute pleasure, I could spend days and hours definitely talking to you further. So feel free if you are listening to jump on the superframe website, the indicators of a thriving workplace national report 2020 is available free of charge to download into the coming months, we will be doing further profile reports that will look at particular industries, we do one for International Women's Day that looks at gender. So there'll be a range of different reports that we'll be releasing. The other thing that is available on the superframe website, again, for free is a raft of resources and tools. So feel free to have a wander through the website. We are here to support any business in the country, and really happy to to make a positive contribution. And if you're ready as a business to get going and do then superfriends very happy to support you in that journey while I'm truly but Mitch, thank you so much. It's been an absolute joy and pleasure as always.

Mitch Wallis:

Thank you my dear Cheers.