From flexible working arrangements to changing demands for workspace design, the pandemic sparked a dramatic shift in the workforce’s expectations of employers. Beyond logistical changes in how and where we work, leaders are now becoming viewed as “accidental counsellors” to provide more in-depth personal support to employees.
Heidi Smith, Lead Partner of our Melbourne studio recently sat down with the Australian Financial Review to discuss these fluctuating expectations and how they are impacting workplace leaders in Australia.
“There’s been a shift. It’s now expected that we offer opportunities and support for not only physical wellness but mental wellness in the working environment too,” said Heidi, who leads 100 team members in Gray Puksand’s Melbourne studio in her role as Lead Partner.
To foster an inclusive and supportive environment, it is important that managers be “more in tune and more aware of team members’ wellbeing,” said Heidi. Supervisors must be sufficiently equipped with the correct tools to support their team members through any personal concerns in the event of a problem.
With the rising number of Australians suffering from a chronic mental or behavioural condition, the demand for leaders to upskill in professional health and wellbeing support is becoming increasingly important.
In Heidi’s experience, staff in charge are now having “to draw on skills that weren’t necessarily part of [their] toolkit when [they] became leaders.” Many businesses are addressing this skill gap by providing managers with courses to upskill in areas such as mental health first-aid training, dedicated workplace employee assistance programs, and more open lines of communication between leaders and team members.
Guided by our three core Corporate Social Responsibility pillars: People, Planet, and Community, Gray Puksand is committed to cultivating a culture centred around staff wellbeing, inclusivity, and diversity through our people first policies.
Dedicated to fostering diversity in the Australian architecture and design industry, Gray Puksand has introduced initiatives to increase female representation in our senior leadership group to 50% and offer extended opportunities for LGBTQ+, Culturally Linguistically Diverse groups and mature and young-aged recruits.
In addition to our paid parental leave policy that allows for up to 18 weeks of paid leave per parent, Gray Puksand’s Employee Assistance Program has been designed to assist employees in resolving personal matters that may impact performance. The service provides a free and confidential 24/7 access offering to all employees and immediate family members to improve employee wellbeing and workplace culture.
“At Gray Puksand, we pride ourselves on our people and creating a space where all can feel supported, want to come to work and find enjoyment in their job. Our policies promoting people first have been informed by the needs of our people, and truly celebrates our diverse workforce which we will continue to grow well into the future,” concluded Heidi.