There are many ways to say ‘thank-you’ and the benefits for both the recipient and the giver of such a small gesture are huge.

This week in AFL the Collingwood players said ‘thank-you’ to their departing coach of the last decade, Nathan Buckley, with an upset win over top of the table Melbourne. Yesterday, a driver on the freeway waved a ‘thank-you’ to another driver who left a gap for them to merge in to. Today, my son and daughter did the cooking and cleaned up (THANK YOU!)…

It’s a simple but powerful gesture of appreciation that conveys both gratitude and respect at the same time. Whilst it has long been recognised that there are strong benefits between two people involved in an exchange of gratitude (saying ‘thank-you’ is good for our health and happiness), new research has shown that there’s a ripple effect too.

It’s now acknowledged that there’s a third-party impact on family, friends, neighbours, co-workers and even complete strangers who witness an act of gratitude. It’s a simple act that can bring entire groups together, inspiring people to connect better with each other by building trust and closer bonds.

When it comes to resilience, gratitude has been shown to increase a person or a group’s capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or challenges. The impact of gratitude, from a resilience perspective, is incremental. It’s not as instantaneous as the other benefits (above) but works over time by helping “repair the psychological damage inflicted” by disasters and hardships; it is developed by fostering positive growth, that aids recovery.

It may be as simple as this: gratitude makes us reflect on ourselves and our lives, averting attention from the negative to the positive. Whatever the psychology behind it though, being grateful, acknowledging gratitude, witnessing the ‘thank-you’, all help develop us for the better – one ‘thank-you’ at a time.

Nuffield Group’s Integrated Emergency Management & Recovery team incorporates human factors (like gratitude) and an understanding of team interaction as part of its emergency management training program to help build resilience. Read more here.

References:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_ripple_effects_of_a_thank_you

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31414873/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2014.902492?journalCode=rpos20#.VHUJGlfF9As

Mental Health Matters

It’s June 2021 and Victorians are emerging from yet another COVID-induced lockdown and all the associated side effects business closures and working from home create. So, now is as good a time as any for businesses to develop a mental health risk plan for the wellbeing of all their staff, customers and suppliers.

In terms of business risk, mental health is unique and challenging. Stigma and shame are all too often associated with mental health – which makes disclosure hard…

When the pandemic first hit Australia (way back in March 2020) Nuffield Group developed a guide to help businesses step through the process of developing a Mental Health Risk Plan specific to their organisation. The guide used a risk management framework approach to show businesses how to develop a mental health risk plan. You can get a copy here.

Mental health hazards and their associated risks are usually considered as ‘Headline Risks’ and it is incumbent on an organisation to ensure these risks are managed with appropriate and effective governance processes.

It is important to document the ‘What, How and Why’ for each hazard but first you need to:

  • identify the mental health hazards (internal and external)
  • describe the identified hazards & add them to your risk register
  • evaluate the mental health hazards
  • determine the actions required in response to the hazards

In this framework using your risk register allows you to not only understand the risks and the controls you’ve identified but to track any actions and progress made in implementing controls.

An example of an appropriate risk register is available in the guide provided here.

Remember, a healthy workplace that supports the mental health of its employees should include the following:

  • Prioritising mental health by providing mental health education for all employees to raise awareness, increase understanding and encourage open discussion
  • Encouraging a trusting, fair and respectful culture so employees at all levels can interact with honesty and respect with colleagues, suppliers, customers, and the public
  • Ensuring open and honest leadership which gives employees a sense of shared purpose in the goals of the organisation
  • Developing good job design by matching job roles to people’s skills and abilities, ensuring they are physically safe and offer working arrangements that suit employees
  • Managing workload by setting tasks that can be accomplished successfully in a reasonable time, using readily available resources
  • Offering employees an environment where 2-way feedback is encouraged, acknowledged and rewarded
  • Ensuring employees feel included and have control of the way they work and input to the important decisions of the organisation
  • Recognising the importance of successfully integrating work with life and provide employees the opportunity to manage the demands of work, family, and personal
  • Enabling managers and business leaders to be responsive to employees’ mental health conditions, regardless of cause, and letting them make adjustments to work and counselling support as required

Using a risk management framework to develop a mental health plan for your business is a great resource which can (and ideally should) be supplemented by the support resources available from the many Mental health charities we have in Australia. These are particularly useful for implementing mental health plan controls and understanding some of the unique challenges mental health creates. Check out:

Mental Health is back in the news this week with another State lockdown in Victoria and the withdrawal of tennis star Naomi Osaka from the French grand slam at Roland Garros – both highlighting the toll on individual wellbeing of stressful events and situations. It’s time to talk – Mental Health needs to be mainstream.

At Nuffield Group we recognise the importance of positive mental health in creating strong and resilient working environments, leading to increased productivity and staff retention. That’s why we promote building mental health strategies to reduce risk at every workplace.

And it all starts with awareness. Employment is a significant part of a person’s life and employers can affect their employee’s mental health positively and, whether it be intentional or not, negatively. So, to build resilience organisations need to raise awareness; to engage with employees to both prevent and address mental health issues. There are a number of things organisations can do:

  • Jobs can be designed to promote positive mental health and wellness and remove risks like stress or trauma
  • Workplace health programs can be run to raise awareness and open communications to remove the stigma around mental health
  • Support mechanisms can be put in place to identify issues early and assist employees in appropriate ways

Regular, honest and open communications are central to any organisation and especially at times like these when Covid-19 is causing so much uncertainty and anxiety.

Everyone reacts differently to these challenges and organisations must be mindful of the new risks changing procedures can bring. For, example, socially distancing at work or working from home has become the norm during the pandemic but how are these practises impacting your employees? Are they more isolated as a result? Do you need to review and change your support procedures to deal with the ‘new normal’?

Of course, mental health awareness and training programs are an extremely effective way to engage employees and raise their awareness. And, in turn, this improves communications and support structures, empowering individuals to look out for themselves as well as their fellow workers.

Nuffield Group has worked with Lifeline Australia to produce and distribute a “Workplace Mental Health Resource for Managers” to our customers via our membership platform, GNTX. Given the importance of this resource and the ongoing challenges we all face, we’re also making it available free here.

Stakeholder collaboration in Emergency Management

At Nuffield Group we don’t believe our dealings with our customers are transactional. We believe in establishing strong, mutually beneficial relationships that are ongoing. It’s a philosophy we seek to extend throughout our network and supply chain because we recognise the benefits of shared value and shared knowledge. Bottom line: Stakeholder collaboration is essential. Take […]

Business Continuity

Business Continuity Plans need connection if they are to succeed in managing a disruptive event. The benefits of good business continuity planning have been self-evident over the past 12 months. Organisations that have good Business Continuity Planning systems in place have been successful in both managing and adapting to the changing operating environment resulting from the COVID pandemic.

They’ve done this by having a thorough knowledge of the critical elements of their business both internally and externally. The importance of recognising and working with suppliers and customers in the formulation and exercising of Business Continuity Plans cannot be overstated. The organisations that have flourished during these challenging times have been agile and had alternate solutions in place, practised and ready to go.

Businesses that have treated Business Continuity as more than a process have been the businesses that have been successful. Organisations that have gone beyond simply applying a template approach and instead produced a business continuity plan developed with input from all areas of their business, are the ones that have thrived.

The importance of organisational interdependencies is key. It is the vital piece of the business continuity jigsaw, the adhesive that gives life and meaning to a Business Continuity Plan.

There is little meaning, and a low probability of success in the deployment of a Business Continuity Plan, if it has not been built by the very business units that will be impacted by the disruption. If there isn’t this symbiosis with the relationships and the connections across the entire organisation, then the implementation of any plan will be fraught and doomed to fail from the outset.

Business Continuity Planning is a whole of organisation requirement. It may well be the case a single person or a business unit is accountable for the development, exercising, updating and implementation of a plan, however, other business units with particular responsibilities enabling continuity of services must support the accountable business unit. Therefore, there will always be other areas within an organisation that should be consulted and informed on aspects of the business continuity planning process. The input of a greater diversity of corporate knowledge leads to best practice solutions.

A siloed approach in developing business continuity plans denies an organisation the ability to use all of its intellectual and corporate knowledge to deliver optimal solutions. It also reinforces and perpetuates an unhealthy culture. The idea of business divisions operating independently and avoiding knowledge sharing is not a foreign notion. These limitations can be overcome through leadership, governance and systems.

The leadership of an organisation has the accountability to ensure the organisational goals are clearly spelt out and communicated to avoid any ambiguity and avoid teams making their own interpretations and defining what the organisational goals are. This is but one key action leadership can enact to promote a ‘joined-up’ approach.

The governance around business continuity planning is another lever that is important because of the high stakes and consequences associated with getting business continuity right. Governance mechanisms are critical to ensure the right outcomes are achieved. Some suggestions of good governance practice include, involving boards and board sub-committees in the development and exercising of these plans; regular discussions, exercising and reporting on performance associated with business continuity planning; reward and recognition programs for good performance and the engagement of an external body to provide independent assurance of the process and product.

Finally, the systems an organisation has in place to guide the conduct of the preparation, readiness, response and review of a business continuity plan are another important aspect. An organisation must have clear policies, standards, processes and procedures in place to ensure its systems are robust and clear to all.

Business continuity planning is a wise investment in managing organisational risk and Nuffield Group encourages all organisations to take the time to reflect on how their business is placed to manage a disruption.

How to Future Proof Your Business

So, you want to future proof your business to maximise a successful recovery in the event of an emergency or crisis. Where do you start?

Nuffield Group provides Emergency and Crisis Management services to its customers and one area we focus heavily on is the importance of planning for disruption from a wide range of natural and man-made causes.

Emergency Management is essentially made up of four pillars;

• Prevention

• Preparedness

• Response

• Recovery

The first three pillars are generally understood. There are many examples of activities around planning prevention, preparing response, and responding to an emergency event. Most organisations undertake these three pillars in order to meet health, safety and environmental compliance as part of good governance programmes. However, the fourth pillar, recovery, is often seen as an outlier – something to tackle only when it is time to recover.

Governments and agencies have been developing their thinking about what makes for a good recovery and many have produced recovery frameworks based on key take-outs from actual emergency events.

What enabling factors assist a business in preparing recovery plans?

At the centre of every emergency event are people; Generally, these are your employees, contractors, shareholders, stakeholders, customers and community members who have varying levels of dependence on your organisation. All of these groups face consequences as the result of an emergency event impacting your organisation and some of these impacts can be very deep, affecting their lives, health and livelihoods.

Recovery is about alleviating the negative impacts of an emergency event on a business by enabling the people and removing any and all uncertainty. Through enabling, the organisation and those people impacted can collectively commence to rebuild, restore and resume a level of normality to their operations and their lives.

The question of how to activate enablers is a complex one and depends on many factors such as business values, priorities, strengths and weaknesses, leadership and history. But experienced emergency managers subscribe to six key principles of recovery:

Principles of recovery:

1. Understand the context

Successful recovery is based on an understanding of the business’ operating environment and requires adaptability.

2. Recognise complexity

Successful recovery is responsive to the complex and dynamic nature of the emergency and the business.

3. Use business led approaches

Successful recovery is business-centric, responsive and flexible, engaging with all stakeholders to move forward.

4. Coordinate all activities

Successful recovery requires a planned, coordinated and adaptive approach, between businesses and stakeholders, based on continuing assessment of impacts and needs.

5. Communicate effectively

Successful recovery is built on effective communication with and between all affected stakeholder groups.

6. Recognise and build capacity

Successful recovery recognises, supports, and builds on individual and organisational capacity and resilience. The capacity needs of a business are assessed and integrated with other risk management practices adopted by an organisation. Recovery management is a key element of any business’s risk management framework.

What does this mean for your business?

These six principles apply equally in your business as they will provide your organisation with the resilience it requires to manage the shocks and stresses an organisation will often face in an emergency event.

Establishing likely emergency scenarios on your business’s risk matrix can assist to inform your recovery plans ahead of time and help build your business continuity plan.

Above all else remember, recovery is not an afterthought.

Nuffield Group provides consultancy and advisory services and also has an online platform, GNTX, for the exchange of non-competitive information and tools allowing businesses to share, download and modify frameworks and documents for their own use. Find out more about GNTX here.

Emergency Planning & the human factor

Nuffield Group has established a team of highly credentialed experts as part of its Integrated Emergency Management & Recovery team (IEMR). The emergency and crisis management capability adopts a holistic approach which includes risk management, emergency management planning, training, exercising and coaching of individuals and teams. This approach strengthens an organisation’s emergency management response plans, and importantly their response to an emergency.
When you think about it, it always comes down to decision making…
Every day, on average we make more than 35,000 decisions according to studies, some big, most small, some important and others not. But what about our decision-making in the time-critical, high-risk environment of emergency management and response? When you actually distill it right down, emergency response is, a decision-making exercise that is typically shrouded with uncertainty, complexity, and friction.
Every business and industry should have emergency management and response plans, that are designed to assist decision-making in the response to an emergency. In “routine”, smaller emergencies, or well-ordered situations these generally work well, however, success is dependent on the ability of those involved to make good decisions by following the plan. But what if the situation isn’t quite the same as the plan? What if it is an event that is not in the plan or the human element impacts on decision making? Or what if the event is of such an unprecedented scale, or beyond ordinary resourcing?
Research (Weick, K., and Sutcliffe, K. 2001. Managing the Unexpected) identified three ways that risk-mitigation planning can reduce an organisation’s mindfulness:
• Plans sensitise us to expect some things but that can mean ignoring other things we don’t expect
• Plans tell people in an organisation how they are supposed to react, so they may not notice how their organisation’s capabilities have eroded
• And lastly, routines can’t handle “novel” events, but we continue to build our plans around “routine” emergencies and a checklist approach to response, particularly in those first critical hours of an emergency
If you think about every significant disaster/emergency event over the years, how did the initial emergency response plans work in those first couple of hours before help arrives? It is these first few hours of any incident that are critical, and it is the actions in the early stages of response that set the direction and tempo for all that follows.
In these chaotic environments, our decision-making takes on different forms when we are faced with ambiguous, complex, and unpredictable situations coupled with interrelated variables that are beyond our control. One inescapable fact is the human element is core to success.
• Human decision making and communication are foundational
• Situation awareness is critical
• Human error is certain
Typically, our emergency planning starts by analysing the risks faced by individuals or communities, the vulnerability of infrastructure followed by developing protective features to mitigate those risks. But what if we focused on preparing for or responding to a risk/hazard rather than just on the hazard itself? With this approach, when we are developing our emergency management and response plans, we think first of how individuals are likely to perceive risks, why they might not adopt preparedness or response measures. This enables us to work with rather than against peoples’ natural decision biases and human factors influences.
This still may not result in the perfect plan or the perfect response, but in conjunction with a learning culture, training and exercising to develop decision-making skills, sense-making and adaptive skills we can develop expertise in organisations and key operators who have to manage and respond to these types of events.
These extreme emergency situations are very rare, so it is easy to focus on the “routine” type emergencies, however, on the flip side it is these “novelty” events that can actually ruin a business. Nuffield Group is ready to assist your business to better prepare your organisation and your staff to challenging, uncertain, and complex situations.
“In complex situations, people will need judgement skills to follow procedures effectively and go beyond them when necessary.” Gary Klein, “Streetlights and Shadows”.

This article is one in a series brought to you by Nuffield Group, focussing on planning for emergencies, training, coaching and exercising your staff to build a capability that adds safety and resilience to your organisation. Nuffield Group is able to assist you in taking these important steps preparing to respond and manage emergencies.

Call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062
Or email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com

Emergency Management Planning: Who will be in charge? Could we have foreseen this? How do we recover?

These are just some of the many questions that should be addressed in planning for an emergency long before you need to have the answers in real time!

Emergency management planning is vital for almost all businesses. Naturally, the scale of planning required will vary depending on the complexity of an individual business. For example, the detail required in an emergency management plan for a major hazard facility will be far greater than that required for an online sole trader. Nevertheless, every business should consider having an emergency management plan.

Emergency management planning is much more than evacuation planning and fire warden training. Thorough emergency management planning will be empowered by your organisation’s Board or owners, executed by senior management and implemented by all members of your organisation.

A well-considered emergency management plan is vital for any organisation to advance following an emergency and should complement the organisation’s business continuity plan.

How do you know if your emergency management planning arrangements are sufficient to meet the needs of an emergency?

Nuffield Group has developed an “Emergency Management Plan self-assessment guide” which identifies the imperative elements that your emergency management plan should have and allows you to assess your organisation’s current plan.

In broad terms the critical elements of any emergency management plan include:

  • Hazard identification and understanding the trends and underlying root causes of incidents
  • Checking incident management systems and processes are effective and align with the risk appetite of your organisation.
  • Establishing, current and relevant formal procedures for your organisation.
  • Testing and exercising your emergency management plan.
  • Formally training team members in their roles in emergency management.
  • Having effective internal and external communication.
  • Having appropriate tools and infrastructure in place.
  • Establishing structure and process around lessons to be learnt to ensure continuous improvement.
  • Developing business continuity and recovery plans to minimise disruption to operations, customers, and other vital business functions; and assist in recovery.
  • Having the current capability and capacity to respond to, and recover from, an emergency.

Nuffield Group’s “Emergency Management Plan self–assessment guide” enables an organisation to undertake an assessment of their own emergency management plan on a regular basis to ensure it is strong, thorough and empowered to meet the emergency management needs of the organisation, stakeholders and the community.

The guide identifies the imperative elements that your emergency management plan should have and allows you to assess your organisation’s current plan.

It is a simple and easy-to-use template that results in an action plan when improvement is needed.

Nuffield Group’s ‘Emergency Management Plan self-assessment guide’ is published on our collaborative online platform, GNTX. Here, non-competitive information and tools are made available for businesses to share, download and modify for their own use.

Find out more about GNTX herehttps://www.nuffieldgroup.com/gntx/ or contact us to discuss.

Victorian Indigenous Engineering Winter School

Nuffield Group is proud to be supporting the Victorian Indigenous Engineering Winter School (VIEWS) this year.

The program, which takes place from 4th-9th of July – coincides with NAIDOC week, celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

VIEWS is an annual event spawned by the 2015 National Indigenous Engineering Summit – a collaborative venture between four of Victoria’s top Universities (Melbourne, RMIT, Swinburne & Monash).

The purpose of VIEWS is to give Year 10,11 & 12 indigenous students an insight into what it’s like to study and work in engineering and to find out more about the different educational and career pathways that exist for budding engineers.

Supporting VIEWS 2021 is a perfect fit for Nuffield Group, whose head of Finance and HR is Rebecca Terzini: “We have taken our time looking for a program that promotes the wonderful world of engineering to Indigenous students with a keen interest in STEM subjects – and VIEWS ticks all the boxes”.

Participants in the program get to hear first-hand, inspirational stories from Indigenous engineers and students about their lived experiences. They also find out more about how an engineering career can help them have a positive impact on society and on the lives of millions of people around the world.

The Winter School normally gives the students a chance to live in University accommodation and explore the campuses of the participating Universities; To visit industry sites and Engineering companies and take part in hands-on workshops developing the kind of problem-solving and design skills engineers use every day. This year these experiences will be conducted virtually with hands-on kits for virtual workshops and activities including site visits and campus tours.

VIEWS is a unique and invaluable educational experience that also provides students an opportunity to connect with like-minded people, meet Indigenous elders and learn about the Indigenous support groups that exist to help them in their higher education and career journeys.

The program addresses a wide variety of opportunities and challenges for engineers including global climate change, energy options, resource management, robotics, technology, and medicine. It’s been well received by students and educators since its inception and Nuffield Group Managing Director, Jayston Small, is delighted to be involved this year.

“2020 was extremely disruptive for everyone and particularly difficult for students and Universities. Nuffield Group has been championing industry & community recovery and resilience projects and so, it’s a natural step for us to get involved with VIEWS. We’re immensely proud to be able to support Indigenous students through the Winter School and look forward to helping the 2021 cohort make the most of this opportunity”.

Emergency response and recovery

I am constantly intrigued by the regularity and severity of critical events. Over the last two years, in Australia alone, we have seen numerous major events including bushfires, floods cyclones, a pandemic and heatwaves. At a local level there have been many more events that have impacted communities and businesses including building fires, workplace accidents, protests, social issues and health events. Each of these has the potential to impact you, your employees, stakeholders, customers and ultimately your business.

So, when it comes to emergency response and recovery, how you respond and how you plan to recover can be a game-changer. 

We have previously discussed, in our series of articles, that your Emergency Management Plan needs to be based on the risks identified via your business’s risk assessment process. This is such a crucial piece of work because unidentified risks will not receive the attention they deserve in your emergency management arrangements.

There are many ways to manage risk, usually incorporating numerous layers of protection but when each of those layers of protection fail, an uncontrolled event occurs, affecting your business. In most circumstances this is known as an emergency situation which requires an emergency response. The best emergency response is the one that is planned for.

Emergency response planning is the development of a set of written procedures for dealing with emergencies, designed specifically to minimise the impact of the event and facilitate recovery from that event. At an instinctive level these procedures address matters such as:

  • How to alert staff and visitors of the emergency
  • How to evacuate, including escape routes and assembly locations
  • How to account for employees and visitors
  • How to notify and liaise with emergency service
  • How to provision initial welfare arrangements
  • and what early notifications are required, including statutory notifications

One of the keys to developing good emergency response plans is to consult with the emergency services early in the process. There are benefits for all in the consultation process. The emergency services gain an understanding of your business operations and processes along with the likely emergency scenarios and your capability to initially respond to them. Using this information, the emergency services can plan their response. In return, you gain an understanding of how the emergency services plan to respond, the equipment they will respond with, the timeframe in which they will respond and their expectations of you when they arrive.

The sooner the emergency services can get to work, the sooner your emergency event will be controlled. The importance of exercising your plan cannot be overstated, the engagement with the local responders is one important step and you should practise your plans and review them annually to be successful.

A valuable and simultaneous process to be undertaken whilst developing your emergency response plan is to develop your recovery plan.

A recovery plan will help you to commence your recovery efforts earlier and more smoothly when an emergency event impacts your business. The purpose of the recovery plan is to reduce your recovery time and minimise losses.

Recovery plans can include a vast array of critical information relevant to the recovery of your business including information on how to resume critical business activities and the time frame in which you can realistically expect to resume usual business operations. It can also include:

  • Strategies to recover your business activities in the quickest possible time
  • A description of key resources, equipment and staff required to recover your operations
  • Your recovery time objectives
  • And a checklist you can use following an emergency event, when it is safe to return to your premises

Recovering from any setback is a challenge for all of us. Thinking and planning how you would go about your recovery process based on a likely emergency scenario could make a big difference to your business.

Nuffield Group has invested in developing its capability in Emergency and Crisis Management to support customers and organisations build safety and resilience into their business.

Nuffield Group provides consultancy and advisory services and also has an online platform, https://www.gntx.com.au for the exchange of non-competitive information and tools allowing businesses to share, download and modify frameworks and documents for their own use.

Find out more about GNTX here: https://www.nuffieldgroup.com/gntx/ or give us a call 1300 308 257 or mobile 0404 852 062.