“See a need, fill a need.”
This is the catchy tag line for BigWeld industries – the fictional technology company from the 2005 children’s movie “Robots”.
Movie reviews aren’t really our thing here at WORK180, but when we heard the story we’re about to share with you, it was this tag line that echoed through our minds over and over.
“See a need, fill a need.”
See while many companies understand, value, and prioritize employee health and safety, leading organizations are ‘seeing a need’ to be more proactive about their health and well-being offerings. The truly amazing organizations are making sure this need isn’t just seen but answered.
One of Australia’s largest electricity and energy providers, Stanwell, is doing just this.
While the company’s leadership team have a health and well-being strategy and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place – everything changed in 2020 with the onset of the pandemic.
Their previously high engagement rates with their EAP began to drop.
This drop was particularly felt in the regional areas of their business, due to the lack of timely accessibility and support in these areas. Seeing the need these statistics and employee feedback highlighted, they quickly sort to ‘fill the need’ and bridge this gap.
Bridging the gap in mental healthcare
Mental health continues to stand out as one of the biggest workplace risks for workers, particularly in the utilities industry. The spike in demand for mental health services during the pandemic only compounded this risk.
As many people in Australia struggled to receive timely, accessible support services, Stanwell’s leadership saw this challenge reflected first-hand in their workforce.
Their answer? Bunyarra Wellbeing Co.
Stanwell engaged Bunyarra Wellbeing Co (Bunyarra) initially to attend each of its sites and supplement their resources for onsite counselling and mental health education during a major project which saw hundreds of itinerant workers working away from their families
Using psychology principles to increase participation and to reduce the stigma around mental health, the process involved six programs, applying promotional, educational, counselling, and coaching techniques.
Right from the jump, Bunyarra delivered valuable one-on-one counselling sessions for employees and contractors, and workshops for teams and managers.
While most of this work involved creating Well-being Plans (helping people identify issues and establish coping mechanisms), it also included Employee Safety Plans for people with suicidal ideation.
Having this service on the ground and accessible 24/7 had a huge impact.
A measurable difference, a personal difference
Looking at the data, access to Bunyarra services by Stanwell employees significantly increased in 2021 and continues to increase to date. This has demonstrated the importance and success of a readily accessible 24/7 service on the ground as a supplement to the EAP.
While statistics reveal the real and positive impact these services are making, a closer look at people’s individual experiences offers deeper insights.
According to one Stanwell employee:
“Bunyarra services have been extraordinarily useful and beneficial. I’ve used other service providers before to deal with anxiety and depression, but the tools and outcomes I’ve achieved with Bunyarra’s guidance have been life-changing for my family and me.
“It’s above and beyond any other support I’ve received. It’s helped me build a stronger sense of connection, and I feel privileged to have this support available to me through Stanwell.”
The benefits of a proactive, holistic approach
Bunyarra’s coaching and educational programs provide Stanwell team members (particularly onsite workers and their families) with greater knowledge and access to vital healthcare services.
Not only is Bunyarra supporting positive mental health outcomes by giving employees the tools to know when to seek help, the service also helps people recognize when others need support.
Additionally, the service complements Stanwell’s EAP and its promotion of other Australian healthcare events, including: Mates in Energy, R U OK? Day, Wear it for Purple day, and Men’s and Women’s Health weeks.
And it’s not a set-and-forget strategy. It’s incorporated holistically into everyday business activities. (In fact, Stanwell’s health and well-being strategy achieved gold recognition from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Be Recognized Program!)
Stanwell’s health and safety strategy includes 24/7 mental health services, mental health training, GP health and wellness assessments, financial well-being support, fitness initiatives, and more.
How can other companies do the same?
At the end of the day, when employees lack timely access to mental health services, they can suffer significant consequences.
As Stanwell confirms, companies that can identify this gap early, and are proactive about addressing it, emerge stronger with a more resilient workforce.
Since Stanwell engaged Bunyarra two years ago, these services have become a permanent fixture and core part of its health and well-being strategy.
Bunyarra continues to foster a safe and welcoming environment for people to discuss their challenges while filling the service gaps in Stanwell’s EAP.