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Altus' simple steps put employee well-being front and centre

Employers  |  19/03/2018  |   3 min read

If we had known about SuperFriend’s guide book* before we embarked on a comprehensive program to promote employee well-being and mental health at Altus, we could have saved ourselves a bit of time.

This was an observation by Grant Whyte, Executive General Manager, Staff Engagement at leading traffic management company, Altus, in a case study he presented to employers and specialists at Victoria’s workplace mental health event hosted by the SuperFriend, VicHealth and Worksafe collaboration.

The Altus case study is one that highlights how relatively simple ideas can have a big impact on workplace well-being and employee engagement, factors that the company believes position it as an employer of choice within its sector.

“Our employees are from all walks of life. Like in any workplace, lifestyle factors including shift patterns, varying workplaces that are often remote, and employees’ own attention to general fitness and diet all contribute to overall well-being, including mental health,” Grant said.

The pillars of the Altus approach have been to first recognise that ‘Leadership walks’. Informal team chat sessions involving the executive team, including the CEO Jeff Doyle, and regular business updates are a feature of Altus life. Leaders within the business must demonstrate by their own behavior and prioritisation that achieving an appropriate work-life balance is important for everyone.

Specific examples of practices applied to all include implementation of job sharing, the day off on birthdays, an additional Christmas pay run to ensure employees do not experience the extra financial stress of missing a pay run during the holiday break. Grant described the latter as something “the payroll people hate, but implemented anyway for employee benefit”.

Altus has also gone out of its way to talk to employees and identify how and where they prefer to work.

“We take on traffic management projects for a wide variety of projects and events. Some employees love doing events where there is a lot of engagement with people, but others prefer the experience of working around construction sites.

“Where possible we assign projects aligned to those individual preferences to ensure their job sits within their comfort zone,” he said.

Grant added that Altus’ employee development program was designed to be self-paced, recognizing that not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder to the top. Except for the appointment of managers and executives, selection of team leaders is done during the employee on-boarding process rather than at the recruitment stage.

“It is important when initiating this sort of program to remember that employees are never satisfied with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and we have taken steps to engage our staff in tailoring their work and projects to the things they most like to be involved in,” he said.

SuperFriend’s ‘Promoting positive mental health in the Workplace – Guidelines for Organisations’ is available for download from its website. Equip employers who are interested in hosting a SuperFriend presentation for their staff can organize it through their Equip relationship manager.

Click here to view activ8 TV’s Kim Watkins' interview with SuperFriend CEO, Margo Lydon, about workplace mental health.

Employee photo by courtesy of Altus.

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