Work Healthy Australia

Work Healthy Australia

Work Healthy Australia founder Dr James Murray.

Owner: Dr James Murray

Location: Gisborne, Victoria

Industry: Healthcare and medical

Founded: 2000

Employees: 43

Website: workhealthyaustralia.com.au

If half your team could suddenly no longer do their regular tasks, what could they work on instead?

This was the real-world scenario facing Work Healthy Australia in March when coronavirus lockdowns first came into effect.

The regional Victorian business overcame the challenge without losing sight of the wellbeing of its team, however, making it the winner of the People category in this year’s SmartCompany Resilience Awards.

“Throughout this pandemic, continuing to have a sense of purpose has been one of the most important things an employer could do for this team,” says Resilience Awards judge and Salesforce vice president for growth business Adrian Towsey.

“Work Healthy Australia worked to make sure its people continued to do valuable and meaningful work for the business,” he says. 

Ordinarily, the 24 clinicians who work at the workplace injury and treatment business visit clients around the country to offer treatment and advice on a daily basis.

However, when a large number of clients closed their doors to external contractors earlier this year, particularly in the food processing and manufacturing industries, these clinicians suddenly needed to work from home, along with their colleagues in the head office. 

This forced change created a unique opportunity for the business: clinicians now had time to lend their technical expertise to research and development and service-improvement projects, and those projects progressed at an accelerated pace. 

At the same time, the business discovered these clinicians had other valuable skills — from graphic design and app development to video production and editorial skills. 

Perhaps most importantly, the new working arrangements brought together colleagues who rarely crossed paths and created new methods of collaborating. Clinicians began working with sales teams, reaching out to prospects and finding new ways to help them. 

“Having staff work on various projects to further develop our products and services has given them a sense of accountability and ownership,” Murray explains.

“Working in project teams has brought our team closer together and we now work more effectively with one another — feeding off each others’ ideas and creating closer relationships.”

Work Healthy Australia also implemented a range of communication strategies to keep team members connected, from morning and afternoon huddles via Google Hangouts, to daily emails giving staff an update on the business during the first lockdown period. 

Staff were also offered flexible work arrangements to help with homeschooling responsibilities, and an Employee Assistance Program was established to offer mental health support.

The business also sent out fortnightly ‘how are you today?’ surveys to monitor happiness levels among staff. 

The executive team of the business had decided in March it would do everything to keep each team member employed, and the business has achieved that goal. 

“Without people, your business doesn’t amount to much,” Murray says. 

“Invest in and look after your people.

“When a crisis hits your business, such as COVID-19, and you have to pivot or adapt your business plan, you need to bring your people on board, give them accountability and take them on the journey with you.

“This will build trust and a sense of ownership.”

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