Home' HR Monthly : November 2014 Contents 22
THE STRATEGY NSW AMBULANCE
ADOPTED CONTRIBUTED TO A 72 PER
CENT REDUCTION IN WORKERS'
COMPENSATION COSTS FOR
PSYCHOLOGICAL CLAIMS OVER THE
FIVE-YEAR PERIOD TO 2012.
engaged an external company to independently review
its program. It then hired another consultancy to give
every staff member four hours of respectful workplace
training, using the straight talk model of resolution.
Orchestrating sessions proved more than a little
tricky, given the priority to maintain services to the
community. "We led from the top down and our
managers worked out how to take people off the road
to do the training all over the state, from Broken Hill to
Lismore to Moruya," says Booth.
The respectful workplace training (now provided to
all new employees) was further endorsed with A3 poster
flowcharts and plain-English fact sheets for tea rooms
and managers' offices. Promoting direct resolution
and encouraging facilitated discussion were the most
effective way to communicate policy to a workforce
largely on the road.
"It had to be easy, accessible and everywhere. Staff
needed something quick to look at to go, 'Oh yeah,
that's what I have to do.'"
The policy flowcharts answered questions such as, "Is
it appropriate for me as a frontline manager to do this?"
and "Are we looking at an incident of apparent bullying,
or is it more about interpersonal conflict?"
Openness was encouraged when the organisation held
an anti-bullying forum in 2008. Staff were invited to
suggest changes to policies, procedures and training,
which could help reduce their occupational health risk.
It's an issue that is very real for the organisation, given
that 90 per cent of its employees are operational staff
involved in frontline emergency care. NSW Ambulance
is one of the largest ambulance services in the world,
servicing 7.25 million people and responding to a call
for assistance every 26 seconds on average.
Steps for early resolution of bullying and conflict at
a local level (especially when staff deal with traumatic
incidents such as call-outs involving children or a serious
car accident) were highlighted at the forum.
"The forum recognised that conflict will always
happen, but our skills in handling it needed to be
polished," says Booth. This was mission critical because
"some issues can go wrong with staff and can have a
major impact on their wellbeing".
A forum case study was presented to promote
self-awareness and responsibility. Three staff members
acted out the handling of a conflict situation, at first
inappropriately, then appropriately. This teaching
technique 'clicked' because NSW Ambulance staff
are practical by nature and clinical care is protocol-
driven, says Booth. The skit touched on generational
conflict, conflict with a senior manager, conflict in
the interpretation of protocol, and conflict relating to
After the main conflict areas expressed at the forum
were prioritised for resolution, NSW Ambulance
Advice from Marlene Booth,
NSW Ambulance's equity
and development advisor,
people and culture, on dealing
with a workplace issue:
1. All workplace concerns
must be treated confidentially
and actioned promptly.
2. It's important not to
prejudge or speculate
about who's right or wrong.
3. If you're acting on
someone else's concern,
think about what support
they may need.
4. Follow through to make
sure the concern has been
heard and action is taken.
5. Complaints or concerns
may be reclassified as we
learn more about them.
2014 AHRI AWARDS
Winners of the 2014 AHRI
Awards will be announced
at an awards dinner in
in HR and business from
organisations around the
country. You can attend
the dinner to hear the
winning case studies and
gain ideas to implement
in your organisation. If
you have an initiative
that exemplifies great HR
practices, expressions of
interest for the 2015 AHRI
Awards open in December
2014. Applications open in
2014 AHRI AWARDS
THE STAR, SYDNEY
2 December 2014
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