A workplace gratitude intervention, implemented by a unit manager after attending one of the Neuroscience of Leadership programs, was submitted to the 2014 Positive Business Awards hosted by the University of Michigan’s Centre for Positive Organisational Scholarship and was recognised as a top 5 global finalist.
The neuroscience program created such interest and discussion across the organisation that a decision was made to engage Paul Taylor to deliver 2 hour Performance Wellbeing sessions for any interested staff. The demand was such that 7 sessions were ultimately required to accommodate the 530 staff who attended. A number of these staff would subsequently apply to attend the full 2 day programs in following years.
At each of the 7 sessions an invite was offered for staff to volunteer to participate in an online, 13 week health and wellbeing program that would be the subject of a post graduate research project.
In 2014 the OCI survey process was again undertaken, with over 60% of staff participating. Below are the latest results for the Executive Team and the Management group.
Both circumplexes represent significant cultural improvements compared with the previous data, with increases in constructive (blue) traits, reductions in aggressive (red) traits and, in the case of the management group, a significant reduction in the passive defensive (green) traits. The improvements in many of the 12 segments in each these plots are highly statistically significant.
According to Human Synergistics, both of these groups are now considered “constructive”, by their definitions. This term applies to results where all of the constructive styles are at or above the median of the norm group whilst all of the passive/defensive and aggressive/defensive styles are below their respective medians. Similar trends were also seen to exist for the other levels of the organization.
These circumplexes (and those for the remaining groups) reflect significant reductions in perceived threat and insecurity within the organisation. This would appear to be supported with many anecdotal stories of improved morale and engagement.
Over the same period there have been consistent and significant improvements in OH&S results. There have been downward trends in both number of claims lodged and number of days lost – the latter reducing by approximately 90%. The compounding effect of these trends resulting in a substantial reduction in average claim cost.
The extent of these improvements prompted the WorkCover insurer to invite the OH&S manager to present the company’s initiatives to a senior client group.
Further analysis of HR metrics such as turn-over, absenteeism, grievances and performance review ratings could also be undertaken in an effort to confirm the full effect. However, the results at hand have been more than sufficient to justify the current approaches.
The work by Paul Taylor was augmented with the following complimentary initiatives from Garry Davis, namely:
- A range of human resource policies to reinforce affiliative and supportive behaviours and encourage ‘family flexible’ practices
- A number of recognition programs and events including service, excellence and an all-staff Christmas function
- The creation of a ‘coaching culture’
The success of the program prompted the formation of “The Alumni” – a group comprising all of the graduates of the coach skills training. The intention in doing this was to maximise opportunities for these people to connect, interact, influence and motivate each other. This, it was hoped, would maintain their skills and lead to another ripple effect.
The CEO however, saw even more potential for this growing group. About 3 times each year he invited this group to lunches, such that they could assist him in thinking through organisational issues he is faced. This was so successful that a range of development offerings have also been tested with this group, both as reward, but also to gain objective opinion.
One example of the work this group has been involved in was as focus groups assisting the CEO in the development of corporate values, supporting materials and subsequent communication activities, facilitated by Paul Taylor. This work included defining example of acceptable and unacceptable behaviours for each of the 4 values – effectively, a detailed code of conduct.
The following video, explaining the Alumni work at City of Ballarat was awarded finalist status at the Positive Business awards hosted by the University of Michigan in May 2015.
Further acknowledgement of the approaches taken at The City of Ballarat came in the form of an invite from Professor Lea Waters at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Positive Psychology, to present to the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program (MAPP). The work has now been presented to the last two intakes of that program.
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