Name: Libby Roberts
Role: Founder and Managing Director
Libby is the Founder and Managing Director of WRM. WRM are in the business services industry – helping businesses manage workers compensation claims.
What generation is your family business?
We are a first-generation family business and have been in business for 20 years.
What is your role in your family business?
My role as Managing Director means that I wear a few hats. I have a lot to do with day to day operations and quality management. I also know each of our customers personally and it’s my goal to continue to be involved at that level because relationships are so important to me. I want our customers to know that they can always pick up the phone and speak to me. My other role is to plan our strategic direction and to oversee innovation and development. I really feel that our industry needs to evolve – it’s a bit of a dinosaur – so I think there is a real opportunity to do something different and exciting. I think there is appetite in the market for innovation.
What or who is a major influence for your family business?
For me, I see building my family business as a way of positively contributing to society. A workers compensation claim that is not well managed can have a damaging ripple effect for individuals, families and employers. We embed ourselves in our customers’ business and so are there at the beginning of a claim when we can positively influence the outcome and take the stress out of the claim for each stakeholder. Workers compensation can take up a lot of time and can unnecessarily lead to premium increases, so we are glad that we can take that stress from our customers so they can get on with business.
What keeps you awake at night?
Thankfully not a lot! I love what I do and I think it’s important to be content no matter what life’s circumstances are. Our daughter had a life-threatening illness when she was younger and so I have learned to live each day as it comes and be grateful for every blessing. Worrying about things doesn’t make them any different – it just makes you more anxious!
What’s the key benefit of your FBA membership?
The key benefit of my FBA membership is the education around topics such as having a family council and succession planning. I went to the FBA National Conference in Alice Springs and was so inspired by the people who shared their stories and by the people I met. I found people very generous with their willingness to share their experiences in business.
My husband has always said that rugby league is a great metaphor for life and as I watched the Grand Final on Sunday I couldn’t help but notice the way the Roosters pulled together to make Cooper Cronk’s “return to work” possible. Cronk played with a fractured scapula and without the team supporting him on the field, his “suitable duties” would not have been possible. While Cronk’s performance on the field has been described as “almost managerial”, such was his importance to the team, they devised a game plan based on 12 functioning players in attack, not 13. His work mates needed him to be there and they made it possible.
It should be no different in a workplace. While, of course we would never suggest that an injured employee perform such rigorous suitable duties as Cronk on Sunday night, the biggest influence on the outcome was the team strategy which allowed him to participate meaningfully and contribute to the overall performance. It illustrates what can be achieved when teams function well and look out for each other.
When an employee returns to work on suitable duties there are unavoidable flow on effects – notably others have to do more work to make up for the duties not being carried out by their injured colleague. Unfortunately, this can lead to workplace conflict with other employees becoming disgruntled that they have to pick up the slack.
We work with our clients to help them promote, facilitate and model a healthy workplace culture where every person on the team is considered important to the overall vision of the organisation. Everyone, from the bottom to the top is valued for their contribution. So, if one of the team is unable to do their full duties, there is no question that their role will be covered by others. Because we have each other’s backs. We help when help is needed.
Cooper Cronk’s “return to work” on Sunday night is a great illustration of how an organisation with a healthy culture that values the team can positively influence someone’s return to work following an injury.
If you need assistance to improve your workplace culture, email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 9893 1877.
Why workplace safety & health audits are important in an organisation
One of the biggest issues facing employers today is the safety and wellbeing of their employees.
Safety & health audits (or a gap analysis) help to rate a business’s safety and health program, identify its strengths and weaknesses, show where improvements are needed and create a process and procedure by which problems can be addressed and corrected.
In addition to assessing potential safety issues and adverse work conditions, audits can also assess senior management’s philosophy, treatment and attitude towards safety.
What is a workplace safety & health audit?
Essentially a workplace safety and health audit is the process of examining a workplace (or a specific area of the workplace) to identify any hazards that may be put employees at risk.
This process can be either be an informal walk around the business or a formal planned inspection.
An audit is a documented method of reviewing a business’ systems of safe work as they are carried out in the workplace, to ascertain whether they comply with legislative requirements, or whether they need to be amended.
Auditing examines each stages in OH&S management system by measuring compliance with the controls the organisation has developed, with the ultimate aim of assessing their effectiveness and their validity for the future.
Do I really need one?
At the fundamental level, the real question is; do you want to ensure your employees come to work, carry out their job duties safely and without incident and return home safe?
If the answer is YES, then you need to conduct regular health and safety audits for your business and/or specific areas of your business.
What type of audits are available?
There are three types of safety audits that can evaluate business practices – these are usually referred to as compliance programs and management system audits
The 3 types of audits that a business can undertake are:
The most basic audit is a compliance or condition inspection. Basically, this requires that employers provide their employees with a place of employment that is free from recognised hazards and complies with certain Workplace, Health and Safety standards.
To achieve a goal of reducing accidents and incidents as well as unsafe acts and conditions which result in accidents, a business must have programs in place that dictate how to implement safety rules or requirements.
An example of a regulatory requirement is to record accidents within a certain time period as well as a process to investigate the accident.
Management Systems Audit
This level is a comprehensive safety audit designed to evaluate and validate the effectiveness of and management’s commitment to safety compliance & programs, employee involvement and risk control procedures.
Management systems audit examines accountability and effectiveness of this implementation and how well the company’s health and safety program is integrated into the overall business culture.
A management systems audit integrates all three audit techniques, document review, interviews and workplace observation in order to make these determinations.
Finally, to make safety programs sustainable, they must be integrated into the company’s existing business practices.
Being able to demonstrate (to relevant investigating authorities, should a serious incident occur in the workplace), that management undertook even basic safety audit compliance steps may have significant effects on any investigation that could be undertaken on the company.
If your business employees people, there is no excuse to not undertake a health and safety on your business particularly if the business has the resources to do so – as a responsible employer, you need to do so.
And if you don’t have resources within the business, then talk to a professional who can provide you with independent advice.
Contact WRM for your health and safety audit advice.
Outsourcing, which started in the early ’90s as a revolutionary phenomenon of sending unskilled work from developed countries to developing countries, has experienced tremendous growth over the past decades.
The biggest change in outsourcing has been that it’s no longer associated with ‘offshoring’, i.e. to outsource a necessary and key business function does not mean sending it to India (for IT support) or Philippines (for call centre management) or China (for manufacturing).
Industry experts, who have been studying the disadvantages and advantages of outsourcing, feel that the future of outsourcing will continue to remain secure mainly due to the benefits that outsourcing brings to the business.
What’s the upside and downside of outsourcing?
First, the upsides of outsourcing include:
Swiftness and Expertise – Most of the times, tasks are outsourced to companies who specialise in their field.
Concentrating on core process rather than the supporting ones – Outsourcing the supporting processes gives the business more time to strengthen their core business process.
Risk-sharing – one of the most crucial factors determining the outcome of an outsource campaign is risk-analysis. Outsourcing certain components of your business process can help the business to shift certain responsibilities to the outsourced vendor.
Reduced Operational and Recruitment costs – Outsourcing overcomes the need to hire individuals in-house; hence recruitment and operational costs can be minimised to a great extent.
On the flip-side, some of the downsides of outsourcing are:
Risk of exposing confidential data – When a business outsources HR, payroll, recruitment services, or any other non-core function, it involves a risk if exposing confidential company information to a third-party.
Synchronizing the deliverables – In case you do not choose a right partner for outsourcing, some of the common problem areas include stretched delivery time frames, sub-standard quality output and inappropriate solutions that may conflict with company culture and values.
Lack of customer focus – An outsourced supplier may be catering to the expertise-needs of multiple businesses at a time – it may depend where you are on the pecking order that determines what level of service you receive.
Regardless though, it’s now widely acknowledged by industry experts and commentators that if a function in your business is regarded as non-core, then outsourcing it is most likely the best business decision.
One area that time and time again comes up is WHS (Workplace Health & Safety).
Everyone expects to go to their place of employment and leave that same place in good health. This is a given.
However, what happens when an employee gets injured?
If you are a large construction or mining operation, then most likely you’ll need in-house WHS resources.
Yet, what about the thousands of small-medium businesses that may not operate in high-risk environments, yet still employ people, who in the course of their duties, may sustain a workplace injury?
Dealing with an injured worker such that she is treated and cared for to allow for a safe and productive return to work is a highly specialised skill.
The State Insurance Regulatory Authority prescribes in detail the requirements of a Return to Work coordinator.
WRM can fill the functions of a Return to Work Co-ordinator for companies that are required to have one by law without the need for having a full-time person on the employee payroll.
Accidents and workplace injuries will happen – the question is how equipped and prepared are you to deal with such a situation?
Welcome to the screen age!
We live in a world dominated by screens – TVs, computers, tablets, phones, ebook readers and now, even watches!
While society as a whole is actively engaging in more and more screen time, it’s the youth generation who has the highest engagement rate; laptops, phones, tablets and video games.
It’s not uncommon to see parents placating a bored child at a café by handing them an iPad or smart phone to keep them occupied allowing the parents to enjoy some downtime.
In itself, there is nothing overly wrong with this, however, as the use of devices among children becomes habitual, this will bring along with it other issues – relating particularly to their health and well-being.
These are the next generation of workers who will enter the workforce having already logged up substantial time using devices of sorts.
And as they do, the potential for injuries such as RSI and MSD are very high.
Extensive computer use (or any other device with a screen), promotes sedentary posture and sedentary behaviours that can lead to health risks.
Nearly all Australian children use computers – for school work, for communication and for entertainment.
The implications of such a lifestyle so early in development, are quite serious and if left unchecked, will lead to health issues in early adult hood.
Typical health issues observed include:
- Lack of quality sleep (sleep deprivation)
- Musculo-skeletal disorders (neck and upper limbs)
- Vision problems
- Tissue damage and general aches & pains
- Loss of social skills
- Potential risk of type 2 diabetes
This generation’s dependence on computers for work and play can result in little to no gross motor experience and due to lack of physical activity they may never achieve peak bone density.
Not only will they be less physically competent, yet also muscles and ligaments are less developed.
So as the youth generation prepares to enter the workforce with either pre-existing health issues or health issues that are waiting to manifest (potentially triggered by work requirements), the workplace needs to be prepared.
A stronger focus on health and well-being programs will be required in addition to continuous education and adaptation.
Simple initiatives such as ergonomics will take on a much more prominent and key role.
Ergonomics aims to improve work-spaces and environments to minimise risk of injury or harm.
So as technologies change, so too does the need to ensure that the tools we access for work, rest and play are designed for our body’s requirements.
All is not bleak though for the computer generation – through education, knowledge and support, we can have the best of both worlds – health and wellbeing and our hi-tech toys!
“Mental health is health” wrote Madalyn Parker who gained publicity for her candid email to her colleagues informing them that she was going to have a day off to focus on her mental health so that she could come back to work ‘refreshed and back to 100%’.
What was even more uplifting was the response from her CEO who not only thanked her for her email, yet also took the opportunity to remind his employees that we should all bring our whole selves to work.
You can read the article here if you’re not familiar with the story.
Unfortunately bosses or even workplace cultures like that of Madalyn’s are far and few in between.
Mental health problems is still very much a stigma – not only in the workplace, yet also in family settings.
Despite shedding light on mental health through the media and education, it’s really the experiences and stories like that of Madalyn Parker that are tangibly changing people’s perception of mental health.
Mental Health vs. Mental Illness
First off let’s make a distinction here – mental health is NOT another definition for mental illness and more importantly, mental health is NOT simply the absence of mental illness.
It appears it’s much easier to define mental illness than it is mental health.
Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion or behaviour (or a combination of these).
Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.
And even though many of us don’t suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder, it’s quite clear that some of us are mentally healthier than others.
Then what is Mental Health?
Mental health may not have a strict or a clear cut definition as does mental illness or mental disorder, however, probably the best way to describe mental health is through the characteristics that are associated with a healthier state of mind.
So what are the characteristics of mental health?
The Ability to Enjoy Life
The ability to enjoy life is essential to good mental health.
Living in the moment and truly appreciating ‘now time’ is one of the simplest ways to enjoy life.
The practice of mindfulness meditation is one way to cultivate the ability to enjoy the present.
Learning from the past and planning for the future are part of everyday life, yet the past and possible future events need not define you.
The ability to bounce back from adversity has been referred to as ‘resilience’.
It has been long known that some people handle stress better than others.
One war veteran could be handicapped, physically and mentally, for life while another may go on to build a new life for themselves.
Why do some adults raised in alcoholic families do well, while others have repeated problems in life?
The characteristic of ‘resilience’ is shared by those who cope well with stress.
Balance in life tends to result in greater mental health.
For example, we all need to balance time spent socially with time spent alone.
Those who spend all of their time alone may get labelled as loners and they may lose many of their social skills.
Those who ignore the need for some solitary time, operate at the other extreme.
Balancing these two needs seems to be the key – although we all balance these differently.
Other areas where balance seems to be important include the balance between work and play, the balance between sleep and wakefulness, the balance between rest and exercise, and even the balance between time spent indoors and time spent outdoors.
We’ve all come across people with very rigid opinions and no amount of discussion can change their views.
Such people are setting themselves up for added stress by the rigid expectations that they hold.
Working on making our expectations more flexible can improve our mental health.
Emotional flexibility may be just as important as cognitive flexibility.
Mentally healthy people experience a range of emotions and allow themselves to express these feelings.
Emotional rigidity may result in other mental health problems.
We’ve all been given gifts, yet, how well do use them?
We all know people who have surpassed their potential and others who seem to have squandered their gifts.
We first need to recognise our gifts and the process of recognition is part of the path toward self-actualization.
Mentally healthy people are in the process of actualizing their potential and of course, in order to do this, we must first feel secure.
No doubt there are other characteristics of mentally healthy people, yet, these 5 characteristics are a good starting point for the journey to mental health and wellbeing.
Workplace Rehabilitation Management
Who is WRM?
Founded in 1996, WRM specialises in proactive and evidence based return to work management services for injured workers.
With a minimum of 5 years of experience in Occupational Rehabilitation, the team at WRM are truly well positioned to professionally manage workplace injury cases and to ensure positive outcomes for both the injured employee and the employer. It is important to us that all stakeholders to THRIVE, not just survive.
WRM focuses on continuous improvement through rigorous process management.
So you can be assured of a consistent, dependable and efficient service every time.
We do not promote ourselves to be everything to everyone, so we specialise in helping small to medium businesses get the same results as the big end of town.
The importance of small business to the economy
In NSW, small businesses;
- Employ around 1.5 million people
- Contribute to more than $270B in sales and service income
- Contribute to more than $41B in wages and salaries
Small-medium businesses (SMBs) are engaged in a diverse range of work ranging from simple services and products to more complex ones. SMB are plumbers, electricians, coffee shops, clothing shops, healthcare providers and even involved in construction and engineering services.
As a key contributor to the NSW economy, there is no doubt that SMBs are pivotal to the state’s success and the livelihood of many individuals.
Workplace injury prevention and treatment services for small businesses
While being small in size, there is no doubting the fact that an SMB is just as much at risk to workplace injuries as are larger organisations.
As an SMB expands and grows, there is a strong likelihood they will employee staff to help cope with their growth – which also brings the responsibilities for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the employee while they are at the work place.
Unfortunately many SMBs who employ staff are not fully aware of their duty of care to provide a safe work environment.
What’s worse is that if there is a workplace injury, the business owner is often at a loss as to what she should do.
Some of the challenges facing a small business owner, in the event of a work place injury, include;
- Limited knowledge of the legislation and only on a needs basis, i.e. when the event happens
- Lack of understanding of the real impacts of a worker compensation claim (hidden costs)
- Limited internal resources to handle the claim – possibly only the owner
- Fear that worker compensation insurance premiums will be affected
- No systems and processes in place to deal with a workplace injury
- Limited availability for suitable duties for return to work employees
Running a business is challenging enough – overlay this with a workplace injury and the challenges become much more daunting.
However, it does not need to be this way.
An SMB owner can take proactive measures by way of introducing injury prevention initiatives which is a proactive measure and in the event of a workplace injury, quickly engaging a qualified and experienced workplace injury management service provider to case manage the injured worker.
An early intervention to a business’s Work Health and Safety program is crucial as it helps to;
- reduces injured worker recovery time
- lowers claim costs
- minimises required rehabilitation involvement
- optimises positive return to work outcomes
What makes WRM different?
Using an innovative case management approach WRM supports our clients through early intervention. We focus on the specific needs of each stakeholder and ensure that all parties are allowed to thrive through the return to work process. There should be no winners and losers – it is possible for workers comp to be a win-win for everyone!
Through consistent support, guidance and active management, WRM has provided business owners; confidence, certainty and comfort in dealing with an injured worker.
Our purpose and benefit:
- Cost effective, results driven rehabilitation services
- Allow the Case Manager and Broker Consultant peace of mind that the claim is ‘on track’
- Assist employers and brokers manage their workers compensation claims
- Provide workers with a timely upgrade to pre-injury duties following a workplace injury
- Ensure treatments are reasonably necessary and outcome focused
- Management of psych-social barriers and worker’s expectations from date of injury
If your business has experienced a workplace injury or is looking at proactive measures to prevent workplace accidents, then visit WRM at www.wrm.net.au or call us on (02) 9893 1877.
What is hot-desking and how does it work?
Hot-desking has become common place in offices, particularly ones located in CBD areas.
Basically it involves employees sharing communal desks or workstations instead of being individually allocated one.
The practice was originally used by large corporations that had staff working in shifts over the course of 24 hours.
It is also often adopted in offices where staff are not always at work at the same time, where providing an individual workstation for an employee would take up space and resources.
While the practice is designed to encourage collaboration and break down workplace silos, many have found the reality to be rather counterproductive.
Some employees have found it easier to adapt to the practice of sharing office real-estate, for example, sales staff who are on the road often may be used to not having their own desk.
But hot-desking is not for everyone.
Some people find it difficult to adjust and acclimatise to different colleagues and different locations on a regular basis which may affect their long term health and wellbeing resulting in decreased productivity, morale and potentially, higher rates of absenteeism [link to the blog on absenteeism].
What are the pros of hot-desking?
On the face of it, hot-desking presents a number of benefits that should, in theory, make this form of office structure a no-brainier.
First off, there’s the obvious benefit of saving cost – less furniture and infrastructure support means less money having to be spent on these elements – cost savings of up to 30% have been cited.
Closely following cost savings, comes increased collaboration and team-work. Hot-desking is designed to breakdown the ‘silo’ mentality or office cliques that tend to form in offices. Removing this can lead to an environment that encourages creativity by boosting opportunities for employees to talk to colleagues they wouldn’t normally talk to; leading to a better team ethic and an increase in productivity.
Doing all this should help to create a more inclusive and thus happier workplace.
And finally, it seems the ‘in thing to do’ – so it must be good!
What are cons of hot-desking?
As is with most things in life, there are always two sides to a situation.
While there is no denying the potential benefits of hot-desking, consider some of the negatives that come along with this type of office setup.
A study showed that unwanted noise and competition for space can make employees feel less valued. And the fact that no-one ‘owns’ some shared spaces can lead to clutter and neglect.
The same study also raised concerns about people not having their own desk, with the loss of control making it harder for some people to deal with stress.
There are also anecdotal reports that hot desking can actually harm communication in small teams, if the team has to split up and sit in different areas of an office.
The presence of ‘extra’ noise can also have a dramatic impact on productivity, with figures as high as a 66% reduction being found in some studies.
It has also been shown that sudden unexpected noises can give rise to higher levels of stress hormones in the body.
A 2012 survey showed that;
- 90% of respondents said it had a negative effect on morale;
- 90% said it increased their stress levels;
- 80% said they do not have the same access to peer support; and
- only 15% felt that flexibility and efficiency had increased
Sharing office equipment, such as phones, can have a significant impact on health – hygiene analysis has shown the number of microbes, on a per square inch basis, is much higher on a telephone than a toilet seat (25,127 vs 49 respectively)!
Finally, the need for familiarity and predictability cannot be dismissed.
Justine Humphry, of Sydney University found that personalising workspace, or nesting, as she calls it, enhances employee wellbeing. In an age where the importance of creating a psychologically safe workplace is well known, surely organisations should be facilitating employee wellbeing, social interaction and collaboration?
Certainly hot-desking can work, however it’s not a one size fits all
Before considering hot-desking for your office, a thorough and detailed analysis needs to be conducted, including consulting with your employees.
A unilateral management decision to implement hot-desking with the notion of tangible savings could in fact result in higher costs through a number factors discussed above.
If you’re thinking about hot-desking for your office, WRM can help you make an informed decision.
Do you know what the cost of employee absenteeism is?
We all get sick every now and then or might even suffer a workplace injury that requires us to take some time off work to recuperate.
But what happens when ‘time off work’ becomes habitual and happens on a more frequent basis?
Being absent from work doesn’t just result in your workload being delayed for a day or two, rather, it leads to loss of productivity that could cost the company a substantial amount of money.
In Australia, absenteeism is a serious problem. Since 2010, the rate of absenteeism across the country has risen by 7%, while as much as 5% of the Australian workforce calls in sick on any given day.
To put it another way, in a company that employs 20 employees, there will be one absence every single day!
What’s worse is that businesses have come to accept employee absenteeism as a cost of doing business.
If your business was losing customers on a regular basis, you would not accept this as ‘the cost of doing business’. Chances are you would do something about this.
So, why not do something to ensure employee absenteeism doesn’t take hold in your business.
How does a Health and Wellbeing program help reduce absenteeism?
Health and Wellbeing programs are a way to take care of your most important resource – your people.
Health and wellbeing programs are interventions put in place by employers to improve the lifestyle choices and health of workers as a way of preventing chronic illness.*
Health and wellness goes beyond medical system. It isn’t just about avoiding, detecting, or treating illness.
It’s about cultivating optimal well-being so that your people can be the best they can be, regardless of work or family life.
Pro-active Health and Wellbeing programs include a number of activities designed to encourage healthy lifestyle and wellbeing among your staff.
Included in these programs are employee health screening such as:
- Pre-employment health checks – conducted at the recruitment phase to identify any health issues that may impact the candidates’ ability to perform the role.
- Health surveillance – ongoing health checks for employees exposed to particular substances or hazards in the workplace.
- Employee Lifestyle Assessment – general health checks offered as part of a workplace wellness programme.
We recommend a combination of all three, tailored to suit your size and budget.
Specifically though, the Employee Lifestyle Assessment aims to give an individual a general overview of their health and identify any risk factors.
There are a number of possible approaches such as individual appointments or group information sessions and we can help you decide which would be of greatest benefit for your organisation.
What are the benefits of a Health and Wellbeing program?
Benefits to individuals:
- Reduced health risks.
- Improved performance.
- Better mental health.
Benefits to organisations:
- Reduced sickness absence levels.
- Greater staff satisfaction.
- Reduced turnover of staff.
- Improved productivity.
- Improved morale and loyalty amongst employees – health screening demonstrates that employers care about their staff and are dedicated to helping them stay healthy.
- Improved team-working.
To find out more and how to implement an effective and tailored work place Health and Wellbeing program, Contact WRM today or call us on (02) 9893 1877.