Women around the world have been deeply affected by COVID-19 much more so than men it seems. And it’s not just COVID, studies show that women are in more danger from the effects of climate change too.
But even when natural and humanitarian disasters don’t directly affect your physical safety, the global nature of our lives means they could still very well affect the safety of your families or co-workers, or even the economic security of the organizations you work for.
But as we learned during the pandemic, there is much that employers can do to help you weather a crisis. We spoke to four of our Endorsed Employers to see what employee support and safety policies, initiatives, or benefits they have in place to offer empathetic and meaningful support to their employees during times of crisis.
Being a witness to traumatic or violent events can have a very deep impact on people. Even if you were not physically hurt or involved in the event you can still be psychologically affected by what you have seen or heard. So, imagine if plunging into extreme and often harrowing scenes was your day job?
This is often the case for the people who work in emergency services.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) have been endorsed by WORK180 for many reasons, but one particularly worth highlighting is the fantastic support services they offer to help their employees through these types of potential crises.
QFES has an extensive Fire and Emergency Services Support Network (FESSN) available to QFES members. FESSN services include a Peer Support Network, 24/7 telephone counseling, coaching sessions, and the provision of information, education, advice, and training relating to mental health and wellbeing. They also support their leaders to build a resilient workplace and offer free and confidential counseling services to all QFES members and their immediate families – for work or non-work-related concerns.
Belinda Morier (she/her) is the Peer Support Coordinator for the South Eastern Region and was recently awarded the esteemed award of Peer Support Officer (PSO) of the year. She shares more on the Peer Support Network at QFES
“The peer support team is all volunteers. They come from anywhere within Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and it’s just there to support your colleagues. When they do go to a fatality or a job that’s not very nice, then they’re contacted by a Peer Support Officer just to make sure they’re OK, and just let them know that there is somebody there to listen.”
The Peer Support Program consists of about 175 active PSOs from a range of ranks and roles across the state who volunteer to assist their colleagues with work or personal challenges. PSOs can also help guide colleagues to further support, such as counselors.
Belinda says “it’s become more acceptable to talk and admit if you’re not OK. Sometimes it’s good to have someone to listen to, who you don’t have to see every day, don’t work directly with, or know outside of the job. Nine times out of 10 when I ring, people are content with the incident and how it went. But at the end of the day, they just want to know someone cared enough to make contact and ask if they were OK.”
Want to learn more about other employers with successful Peer Support programs?
The War in Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having ripple effects around the world. This crisis will be most traumatic for people in Ukraine or the wider region, and for those with family and friends located there. But many are feeling shocked, saddened, and anxious about what may lie ahead.
Nufarm are one of WORK180’s Endorsed Employers with operations in Ukraine, and we spoke to Kieran Williams (he/him), Talent Acquisition Business Partner at Nufarm to see how they are supporting their employees.
“Our most urgent priority has been the safety of our team. Our Europe, Middle East, and Asia (EUMEA) crisis team has been meeting twice daily to understand how we can support our employees and their families. Nufarm has arranged advanced payment of wages and provided safe accommodation options in hotels away from conflict zones. Our offices in Bucharest and Warsaw are also being prepared to receive colleagues should they need to leave Ukraine.
Team members have also arranged for a company-wide donation collection for those affected in Ukraine to offer further support to each other.”
Nufarm has been helping ease the anxiety of their global teams by communicating via company-wide emails to ensure everyone is updated, as well as providing them with links to their EAP and suggestions on mental health resources. And the list of mental health resources they have are considerable, as Kieran shares:
“We have over 80 mental health first aiders within our ANZ region alone. We hold mental health week including guest speakers, and mindfulness seminars. Nufarm have a holistic view to fitness and offer drug/alcohol rehabilitation and EAP (Employee Assistance Program) services to employees. As part of our EAP, we have held a series of resilience sessions with particular focus on our changing personal/professional environment in the wake of COVID-19.”
Want to learn more about other employers who are supporting your physical, social, and mental wellbeing?
The COVID-19 Pandemic
The human psyche is not made to sustain the prolonged stress and anxiety that the last two years have put on us through the pandemic. There have been countless examples of the ways our Endorsed Employers have recognized and worked to alleviate the extreme pressure their employees have been under to meet both their personal and professional responsibilities through this time.
Today’s example comes from Kate Mosel (she/her), Talent Advisor at IGO.
“[In response to COVID-19] We introduced live events to ensure our employees felt connected with the business and provided with important updates. Our EAP service information was shared regularly, along with online presentations and site visits by psychologists, when it was safe to have visitors back on site. We provided health and wellbeing information and uploaded these to a newly developed COVID-19 information hub which contained important information and updates. We also set up a COVID-19 Helpline with a dedicated team of COVID-19 support officers to manage COVID-related cases and support information.”
Additional employee support provided by IGO included an additional 20 days of leave and care packages for staff and their families including Rapid Antigen Tests and face masks.
Another interesting initiative at IGO is their Special Leave Fund. The fund gives their employees the ability to donate annual leave days for the use of other employees/peers who have a significant requirement for leave but do not have enough of their own i.e., for critical illness or long-term sick leave.
Want to learn more about other employers who are supporting their employees to bring their whole selves to work?
Sometimes the times of greatest crises in our lives don’t come with National news reports. Sometimes the pain and strife are far more intimate and personal. Experienced by just the members of one family or suffered in complete solitude. Should these circumstances be any less important to your employer – no, of course not!
Naval Ship Management (Australia) Pty Ltd (NSM) is a leading provider of asset management and maritime sustainment solutions to the Australian maritime sector. But they are also a company that embraces a culture of workplace safety and offers a tailored approach to the wellbeing of their employees.
Liz Humphreys (she/her), Change Manager at NSM shares:
“It’s important that our people have access to free and confidential support services whenever they need them. To ensure the best possible support is provided, we offer a holistic approach through ‘CARE’ (Coaching, Advice, Resilience, Encouragement), which represents the broader services available. These services include financial, physical, and emotional wellbeing delivered via coaching, advice, and other services. Delivered independently by experienced professionals, CARE offers free and confidential services for our people and their families.”
Through CARE, employees and their family members have access to:
- 4 sessions per year for an unlimited number of presenting concerns
- 4 sessions x Wellbeing Coaching
- 4 sessions x Financial Coaching
- 4 sessions x Dietary Advice
- 1 session x Legal Advice
Danielle Hudson (she/her), P&C Business Partner elaborates further:
“From my time at NSM, the mental health and wellbeing of its employees have been a priority. NSM has recently provided me with an opportunity to attend the Mental Health at Work Conference, to connect with like-minded businesses and individuals who understand the importance of mental health at work and ‘life-work wellbeing’.”
NSM is also committed to supporting all employees who are targets of family and domestic violence. Leave can be granted for anyone affected by domestic or family violence, or anyone supporting someone through domestic or family violence.
Want to learn more about other employers who are supporting women through domestic and family violence.
There’s a reason we call it “human” resources. At the end of the day, every organization is about people: those who work with us and those we serve. So, when a disaster or crisis of any kind strikes, the human element should always take priority over business and industry. It really is that simple.
Today’s article features just four of our Endorsed Employers, but in reality, many (if not all) of our Endorsed Employers offer either crisis-specific or ongoing health and wellness initiatives, benefits or programs to encourage you to take care of yourself.
So, take care of yourself!
Do you need to talk to someone right now?
For 24-hour crisis support for you or someone you know in crisis, please see the relevant emergency services below:
USA: call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or see this resource for a list of other services
AUSTRALIA: call 13 11 14 or see this resource for a list of other services
UK: call 116 123 or see this resource for a list of other services