5 Opportunities to Create A Culture Of Wellbeing


I’m sure it is no surprise to many of us that it’s tough out there. Many of us are dealing with high levels of stress both personally and professionally. Many Australians are reporting that they are working long hours, have excessive workloads, not enough support in their workplace, feel insecure in their job and feel ill equipped to deal with change and challenges.

Statistics are indicating that at any given time, 20% of us are experiencing a mental health issue. Each year 1 in 5 of us take time off from the workplace due to issues with mental health and this figure is more than twice as high (46 per cent) if you're someone who considers your workplace mentally unhealthy.

Interestingly, a recent study showed that nearly half of leaders in the workplace don’t believe their workers are experiencing any mental health issues.

It does not appear to be rocket science to comprehend that both employers and employees benefit when a workplace prioritises mental health and wellbeing. To put it bluntly, people do their best work when they are in a positive frame of mind.


Creating a workplace culture where wellbeing is front of mind for both leaders and employees can be a dauting prospect. The phrase “this is the way we’ve always done it” can be a term heard a lot when it comes to workplace wellbeing.


But when workplaces start to work collaboratively to consider workplace tasks, teams, strengths and positive changes, great outcomes can occur.


One of the first questions to ask is WWW (What’s Working Well)? What is the organisation already doing which is creating great outcomes for staff? You can check in with an organisation and staff to assess how your workplace thinks and acts when it comes to wellbeing and mental health.

Then… what is the next step? An organisation does not necessarily have to make big changes to make a big impact.


A good first step is to recognise some of the issues that can impact wellbeing and mental health such as:

  • Working long hours for long periods of time

  • Heavy workloads

  • Unrealistic deadlines

  • Insufficient support

  • Unclear role definitions and measures of success

  • Lack of recognition at work

  • Toxic workplaces where bullying or discrimination is occurring.

  • Lack of personal wellbeing and resilience strategies.


Organisations need to keep in mind that there should be a focus on maximising wellbeing for all staff, not only those that are languishing or have poor mental health, but also keeping those staff who are already flourishing, consistently flourishing.

So, what are the opportunities for an organisation to maximise wellbeing?

1)   Be flexible.

Setting up an environment where there is supportive leadership and where managers are active in managing workloads and pressures is an excellent first step. Flexibility in this is essential. Allowing people flexibility is great for personal wellbeing.

This could be working from home once every couple of weeks, or having flexible start and finish times to fit in other lifestyle needs and balance.

Helping people manage their workload is also about listening to employees and understanding common triggers for stress.

Leaders need to recognise there are ways they can manage. There are ways to assist people reduce stress: be cautious with heavy workloads, set realistic deadlines, manage uncertainty.

2)   Create a (psychologically) safe culture

It is important for leaders to be aware of staff wellbeing all the time, not just when people are unwell.


This understanding is correlated to the quality of the relationship’s leaders have with their staff. This means checking in with staff and asking about and reviewing their wellbeing when they are well, not just when they are unwell.

Having an open channel of positive communication, treating people with respect, diversity and inclusion, having opportunities for team connectedness and for relationships, and celebrating wins and achievements all go into developing supportive and constructive workplace culture.

3)   Prioritise support and communication daily

Creating a mentally healthy workplace requires more than a resilience training session here and there.

It's a long-term commitment that involves creating a space where employees feel continually safe and supported, and where mental health is openly spoken about.

If someone doesn't feel psychologically safe to come out and talk about their experiences, they're not going to.

An organisation can have all this great training, but unless employees feel safe and know that they won't be excluded, treated differently, or lose their job — they won't feel comfortable or capable of being open.

4)   Focus on “wellness that works”

Regular catch-ups between leaders and staff, support and training programs, and return-to-work programs can all go a long way in ensuring mental health is a workplace priority.

It also creates a place where staff can feel safe and comfortable and supported.

An organisation can focus on a range of programs to support staff including:

  • Physical activity programs

  • Coaching and mentoring programs

  • Mental health education

  • Resilience and Mental Toughness training

  • Wellbeing checks

  • Encouraging employee involvement

However sometimes simply a great catch up between leaders and their staff conducted on a regular basis are just as advantageous.

5)   Just listen

Sometimes just listening to the needs of your staff can be a major opportunity to maximise wellbeing.

This is not about what “perks” they need – free food, bean bags in the lunch room etc. This is about really listening to the concerns your staff are vocalising and work with them to derive proactive solutions to these issues.


Want to know more about developing a wellbeing strategy for your organisation? Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via email michelle@bakjacconsulting.com

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.


Can Simple Job Design Changes Improve Wellbeing?

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I have just completed some training for a team who had been really floundering with recent changes and we spent a lot of time developing strategies for the team to build their resilience to manage these challenges. But soon after commencing the 2 day programme, it became obvious that there was some issues around the team’s job design and how their tasks were distributed and organised. Pivoting, the team was able to put some fantastic strategies together to feed back to their leadership team as to how their jobs could be better structured to allow for not only higher levels of productivity, but also improved staff engagement and wellbeing.

I found a great article exploring the fact that good job design can be very beneficial for employees’ mental health and wellbeing. It can also contribute to an organisation’s overall effectiveness by empowering employees and encouraging them to be creative and to develop more efficient work methods.

Good job design includes the way an employee’s tasks are organised, their access to adequate resources, the amount of autonomy they have over their work schedules, and the procedures they use to complete their job. It also ensures employees use a variety of skills within their job and encourages them to take on higher levels of responsibility.

Job crafting is also an important part of job design and involves employees individually customising their job by changing elements of their role that they don’t enjoy, improving their interactions with others or viewing their job – and their organisational contribution – in a more positive way.

An organisation can adopt a positive psychology framework to consider two levels – job design and job crafting. Job design is how an organisation determines the roles and who works best in each role. Job crafting is the physical and cognitive changes an individual can make to their task.

When job crafting occurs it allows employees to reshape their job so it’s more aligned to their skills and motivation.

Organisations and leaders need to recognise and understand what motivates people, and their individual interests and strengths.

Many characteristics found in positive work environments are linked to good job design, such as managers making sure employees have adequate resource access or holding regular reviews to ensure people are in the right roles for their capabilities and motivation.

By providing employees with autonomy, challenging, meaningful tasks and adequate support and access to resources, employers can ensure good job design leading to a positive and a productive workplace.

So how can an organisation consider job design and light a fire under your staff?

·         Look at the way your employees’ tasks are organised. Are they working to an effective schedule or do they have periods of being really busy and then times when they are looking for things to do? Can you implement a workflow that better suits individual employees? For example, consider that everyone has a different biological clock. If one employee is a morning person, help them prioritise their more complicated tasks first thing and leave easier jobs to later in the day. If another has more get up and go in the afternoon, suggest they save their harder work until after lunch.

·         Do they have access to the resources they need to do their job properly? It could be as simple as providing stationery, a software program, access to websites or suitable equipment.

·         Do your employees have some say over their role? Having some autonomy over their work environment can help make someone feel valued and involved. They can have input through either individual sessions with their leader and/or team meetings where everyone is encouraged to have their say about their workload and work tasks – both good and bad.

·         Look at the methods your employees use to complete their tasks. Is there any way they can be streamlined or done in a more effective way? For example, just using simple email folders can help someone be more organised.

·         Increasing the skills and capability of employees and people leaders is an easy and effective way to improve the mental health and wellbeing of your workforce.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.

Houston, We Have A Problem - with Our Mental Toughness and Wellbeing!

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Have you looked around lately at your team?

I mean have you really looked at how your team are and how they are managing?

Are they thriving?

Or are they just holding it together with a very fine thread? Is the rocket ship starting to crack under the pressure?

Many teams are struggling at the moment. Change is an ever constant in organisational environments and although some are managing very well, others are struggling and are barely just keeping their heads above water.

Wellbeing is strongly linked with Mental Toughness which is basically a mindset that a person adopts in everything they do and determines how they perform under stress and pressure irrespective of the prevailing circumstances. Mental Toughness is more than resilience alone.

Mental Toughness allows us to not just survive but also to thrive.

We need to recognise when our team’s wellbeing is suffering and we can start to look for and identify the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms which show quickly that something on the rocket ship just ain’t working.

Consider the symptoms that you could look for in your team which might indicate to you they are not managing their wellbeing:

Physical Symptoms

·        Muscle tension

·        Headaches

·        Excessive sweating

·        Neck, back and shoulder pain

·        Skin disorders

·        Butterflies in the stomach

·        Grinding jaw/teeth

·        Ulcers, chest pain, high blood pressure

·        Shallow breathing

·        IBS

Psychological Symptoms

·        Low confidence

·        Depression

·        Anxiety

·        Anticipatory anxiety

·        Anger

·        Self-blame

·        Excessive worry

·        Moodiness

·        Poor concentration

·        Poor memory

·        Impatience

·        Tension

Behavioural Symtoms

·        Social withdrawal

·        Aggression

·        Passivity

·        Poor or irregular eating habits

·        Insomnia

·        Substance abuse

·        Poor time management

·        Absenteeism

·        Presenteeism

If we identify these symptom’s (and these lists are by no means exhaustive) in either an individual or the team (and remember everyone is different) then we have an opportunity to provide skills to manage and develop mental toughness to assist them manage more effectively and give both individuals and the team a greater sense of control over the rocket they are in charge of.

In the 4 Cs framework of Mental Toughness, it has been identified that – Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence - allow us to recognise the traits that make up a mentally tough individual.

By combining use of the MTQ48 psychometric assessment  (to measure Mental Toughness and provide self-awareness) with a programme of targeted interventions, staff will be better prepared for what life ‘throws at them’ and be able to bounce back from setbacks and gain confidence to thrive in the face of challenges and better manage their wellbeing.

Want to know more about developing your team’s mental toughness? Send me an email at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com to enquire about coaching and training.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Wellbeing Strategist, Leadership and Wellbeing Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness Practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing. You can find her at www.bakjacconsulting.com or michelle@bakjacconsulting.com


Do You Own Your Wellbeing?

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I have recently been working with a couple of large organisations to assist develop their wellbeing strategy and during these very interactive sessions, it was acknowledged that given 44% of Australians believe that their workplace is a source of stress (Australian Psychological Society), workplaces had a responsibility to promote and assist maintain the wellbeing of their staff.

But what about an individual’s responsibility to manage their own wellbeing?

So we have to really ask ourselves the question – “Do I own my wellbeing?” – or are we looking to others with an expectation to manage this for us?

Soto start, we need to consider:

·        What are my current stress levels – and how could I manage these?

·        What negative habits am I currently engaging in that are getting in the way of me maximising wellbeing

·        WWW (what’s working well) – what positive practices am I engaging in that I can reinforce or strengthen and even expand upon.

So how can we live and breathe with wellbeing at the front of mind?

1)   Put your own air mask first.

We have all been on a plane before (hopefully on our way to some exotic destination). We sit in our seats while the plane moves slowly toward the runway to take off and listen to the flight attendants pre-flight safety briefing. They tell us about the exits and the life jackets under our seats and they also remind us that in case of emergency and a change in cabin pressure – air masks will drop from the ceiling and we are instructed to “put your own air mask on first”.

I think “put your own air mask on first” is also a great analogy for life.

We tend to run around with an air mask in our hands giving it to everyone else and what ends up happening is that we in fact end up passing out from lack of oxygen. So how could you apply your own air mask as a priority and give yourself permission to be number 1.

2)   Recognise your bad habits.

When we are struggling with large amounts of stress, we do tend to engage in a few bad habits such as:

·        Impulsive behaviours / aggression

·        Low Tolerance

·        Relationship issues

·        Stop feeling / or over sensitive

·        Poor Work Attitude / performance

·        Excessive Use of Alcohol, Drugs, Caffeine

·        Overeating/undereating

·        Cease exercise

Any on this list remind you of yourself?? Do you recognise when you are engaging in these bad habits and call yourself out on them and look for better opportunities?

Voltaire tells us “Common sense is not that common”. We need to stop doing what we know does not work for us.

3)   Consider your personal resources

Many of us recognise what we actually need to do to engage in healthier and more productive and proactive options for ourselves to thrive. Our problem is recognising and accessing these options when our wellbeing is under threat. Think about:

·        What you’ve done in the past to manage stress effectively?

·        What do you see others doing that works for them? Are these options worth a try?

·        Who could you ask for assistance or support?

·        What strengths and values could you review and call upon to build your wellbeing?

·        Could you rebuild your networks?

4)   Take time out and recharge

Sometimes we basically need to go outside, close our eyes, put our faces up to the sun and recharge (just like superman does). We need to engage in some mindful contemplation and just be present in the moment.

When was the last time you sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine with no other purpose but just to sit and be.

5)   Recognise your baggage.

We often have a considerable amount of self-doubt about our capability and ability to manage in the face of constant challenges. So check your baggage.

•      Stop before you react.

•      Understand what’s in your way.

•      What are you saying to self that’s getting in your way?

•      What are others saying to you that’s getting in your way?

•      Are you carrying blame?

•      Are you worrying about all the things you can’t control?

•      Are your ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) crawling all over you?

Or does your luggage allow easy accessibility to your values, strengths and skills to build your personal wellbeing?

So now it’s your turn. Consider the basic elements of wellbeing:

•      Workplace/professional

•      Physical

•      Psychological

•      Emotional

•      Spiritual

•      Relationships

What considerations could you give to each area?

Want to know more about increasing your wellbeing or that of your workplace? Send me an email at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com to enquire about coaching and training to enhance individual and workplace wellbeing.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Wellbeing Strategist, Leadership and Wellbeing Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness Practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at www.bakjacconsulting.com or michelle@bakjacconsulting.com