Last year began with the historic bushfires that swept the eastern seaboard and Kangaroo Island, tragically affecting rural locations and the air quality in our metropolitan cities; and was followed immediately by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected every aspect of our lives.
For Australia Post, these events significantly impacted our services, required necessary changes to our ways of working, and created a sense of uncertainty and upheaval for our people, resulting in a greater demand for mental health support, information and guidance than ever before.
Encouraging open discussion around maintaining mental health and wellbeing was important to help us meet this significant increase in demand for psychological safety support.
At the same time, with more people at home the pandemic generated record volumes of parcels through our delivery network, driving significant change in the business. We quickly adopted a strong, enterprise-wide focus to equip our people with coping strategies during a time of heightened uncertainty.
Our delivery employees received support via increased signage to promote action against risk, toolbox talks, webinars covering psychological safety and financial wellbeing, regular reminders about the access to our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services, as well as access to an interactive HealthyMe online portal that encourages proactive mental wellbeing management.
For our managers and people leaders, we provided access to educational resources and programs such as mental health awareness training, psychosocial risk management webinars, psychological safety guides and leadership mentoring programs.
These resources were important tools that helped our managers to confidently identify at-risk employees and promote good mental health habits.
Increasing leadership support is an important step towards reducing barriers, so people feel increasingly comfortable to speak to someone.
We have a long history of acknowledging RU OK Day with leadership and we typically use this to keep the conversation of mental health going throughout the year, with social events and talks designed to bring people together to talk about mental wellbeing and share their lived experience.
During COVID-19, while in-person events were restricted, we engaged the voices of our frontline employees from around the country via video, to share the different ways to start a conversation, provide support to colleagues, encourage action and check-in later.
This proved to be an engaging way to motivate our people to connect with and look out for others and move towards creating a culture of care.
It was a culture that was vitally important as we entered a record-breaking Christmas and our busiest ever peak period.
To provide additional support, we actioned on-the-ground support for our delivery employees by bringing our EAP into delivery facilities throughout October to December, making onsite psychologists available for one on one ‘walk and talks’ with staff.
Our EAP also has a structured program of regular wellbeing check-ins for any employee identified as requiring additional support and the program is available to every member of our extended workforce of more than 75,000 people and their immediate family members.
Testament to the importance of our role in communities across the countries, in June 2020, we were thrilled to form a three-year national partnership with Beyond Blue to help Australians stay mentally well and build stronger, more connected communities.
As with our internal efforts, the partnership seeks to make mental health and wellbeing part of everyday conversations and connect people to the support and information available through Beyond Blue.
This partnership plays an important role in influencing positive mental health outcomes, across our workforce and the communities in which they work, by supporting discussions and making it easier to connect with each other in meaningful ways.
As one of Australia’s largest employers, Australia Post recognises the important role we can play in influencing positive mental health outcomes for both our employees and the wider community.
Whether it’s the postie having a conversation with a local resident, or one of our Post Office staff helping a customer in a time of need, we continue to deliver and serve Australians like never before.
Executive General Manager, People & Culture, Australia Post