Mental Health Month is coming up in Australia. Throughout the country there are numerous initiatives in October to raise awareness on social, psychological, and emotional wellbeing. At Recruit Global Staffing the wellbeing of our people is one of our top priorities, because our (temp) employees are our biggest asset. For them to perform as best as they can and feel happy at their job, it’s vital that their leaders support mental health at their workplaces. One of our leaders, Peter Acheson CEO of the Chandler Macleod Group (consisting of our Asia Pacific brands Chandler Macleod, Peoplebank group, AHS Hospitality, Vivir, OCG Consulting and Aurion) sat down with two of his Senior Chandler Macleod People Insights team members, to find out just how leaders can ensure that their organization is mentally healthy.
Acheson: “As leaders we are so caught up in the mechanics of keeping workplaces running effectively and profitably that we can forget the ultimate importance of focussing much of our efforts on keeping our employees safe, healthy and empowered. I was very interested to read that only 5 in 10 employees (56%) believe their most senior leader values mental health (Beyond Blue &, 2014) and that between 13%-17% of depression cases can be attributed to career strain.
Recently I spoke with Anna McNaughton, our General Manager of Career and Change in CMPI, and Narelle Dickinson, our Senior Consultant Psychologist.
Here is what we talked about…

What do you consider to be the most important mental health habits for the workplace?

Anna: "The little things that an organisation can do can help make a big difference to its workforce. People need clarity around their role and expectations – they need to know they are doing their roles and get positive and constructive feedback to develop. They need good communication often from their managers. They need to feel like they can trust their manager."
Narelle: Ensure that staff know that there are no expectations for them to be working long hours by establishing a workplace culture that promotes people taking an actual break for lunch. Preferably sitting down away from their desk or even outside. That same culture will help to encourage them to take regular breaks, engage with their teams and move enough to maintain physical health.
Also providing a physical environment that helps staff feel valued and appreciated. Access to clean, professional bathroom facilities, and a comfortable pleasant spot to go to have their lunch, maybe even provide access to the sorts of things that promote healthy eating – fresh cold water, a fruit basket, tea, coffee and milk in the fridge – it is amazing how many workplaces refuse to provide milk for their staff coffees – such a tiny outlay, but it goes such a long way to make the individual worker feel that their employer cares about them, and helps them feel like they want to come to work.

Why is it important for leaders to demonstrate these habits?

Anna: Leaders need to be authentic with their teams and be modelling proactive positive behaviours. Modelling healthy behaviours is such a critical role for a leader. People need to know they can trust their manager, as that will lead to more engaged and happier staff and likely more discretionary effort.
Narelle: Totally agree, for example, if a manager works 18 hours days and send emails to their staff with a 2am time-stamp, they are communicating the message that this is what counts as ‘working hard’. If, however, leaders take the time to model reasonable working hours, head out to the gym either at lunch or after work, step away from their desk to talk to staff instead of sending an email – then they are sending a clear message of the culture of the workplace. 
Whatever message the leader sends will trickle down pretty quickly, so it is so important to be sending the right one. Leaders need to stay healthy too and it is vitally important for their own families that they don’t come home stressed, exhausted and irritable because that’s not the best version of themselves.

What can leaders/managers do if they are concerned about their team?

Anna: Simple, just be human! Check in with them – but of course do it sensitively and discreetly. We often don’t know what is happening in another person’s life and the “face” they bring to work might not reflect what they are dealing with at home. Ask someone if they are ok and let them know that you are there. Remind them of the supports available
Narelle: Take staff aside and respectively check in. The script is easy… “Hey, you don’t seem yourself at the moment. Is there anything that you need right now?” might be enough to open the door. Obviously, not every person will accept your invitation to talk, but it can make a huge difference just to know that someone cares enough to notice. Importantly, that might be the prompt for someone to realise that they aren’t ok – they may not accept help from you, but they might seek it from someone else. I think that’s an important point – you might never know that you made a difference to someone… but you will certainly find out in the worst possible way if someone isn’t ok and no one does anything for them.

Are there any ‘red flags’ leaders should be watching out for?

Anna: For sure. If you notice your staff are taking more time off than normal, it might be more about their mental health than their physical wellbeing. If they seem a bit more “flat” or irritable and snappy. If you notice that seem to have “lost their mojo”, that they just don’t have the same “get up and go” and confidence at work that you expect from them, or you realise that they are doubting and “second guessing” themselves and their work. All of these are signs that something might be not quite right for them.
Narelle: Look, really it would be so much better to check in and find out that everything IS ok, than not responding at all, so we don’t want to wait until someone is sobbing in the corner before we respond. I was speaking to a colleague the other day about this, and he told me that personal matters shouldn’t impact how we are at work – it should “stay at the door”, but I couldn’t disagree more. It is ridiculous to think that we can be separate creatures at home and at work, and we need to realise that our workers are people first.
Anna: it’s also important to know your staff so you know what is uncommon for them. It’s easy to see your more extraverted staff go quiet but more reserved staff are likely to fall under the radar unless you really take the time to check in.
Make sure you build relationships with new and existing staff is key. Utilising personality Assessments such as Helix are invaluable in this respect as they give managers and leaders insights into their team personality and highlight areas where they might need to be more in tune. This can reallu build trust at all times but in particular when someone may be under pressure

Do you have any tips for what not to do or how to not respond to team members who are under stress?

Narelle: Well don’t send them to HR or the organisation’s EAP as your first step – that might come later, but first of all just let them see your human face and let them know you care.
The best piece of advice I ever heard from a psychologist is this… No-one will ever attempt suicide because you ask if they are feeling suicidal – you are not going to “put the thought into their head” if it isn’t already there. But they might see an alternative if you do check in on them. The single best thing we can do for someone who is distressed is notice and let them know we noticed.
Anna: Don’t be afraid to ask if they are ok. Don’t ask them in a public area of the office – allow them respect and discretion when you check in – how horrible if they suddenly burst into tears standing next to the photocopier when they were trying super hard to “hold it together”. Give them some privacy and speak gently and kindly. Using walk-talk meetings as an everyday occurrence can really help, so that if you say to someone let’s go get some fresh air, then it’s an activity that people are used to.
Narelle: And importantly, don’t make them feel like they have failed a test if when you ask “RUOK?” they tell you that they really aren’t. It takes a lot of courage for some people to admit that they are not ok, particularly with their boss. So, tell them how relieved you are that they have been honest with you and let them know you appreciate the fact they have trusted you. Then find out what you can do to help.
A big thank you to both Anna and Narelle for taking some time out to answer my questions. I think the key is that we, as leaders, should not be seeing mental health as a once a year event on R U OK day, although this is a fantastic initiative which serves as a yearly reminder to get back on track. Create a culture of wellness, resilience and self-care within your organisation by starting with your own behaviours. These strategies aren’t just good for the individual’s mental health, in the long run they are also better for the organisation – because happy healthy people are more productive, have lower absentee rates, and are more likely to stay with the organisation for longer.
To learn more about Chandler Macleod, please visit
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Chandler Macleod Group and Peoplebank Australia are joining forces. The combined entities will be known as the Chandler Macleod Group. Peoplebank continues to operate under its own name and with its IT/Digital specialization.

Together the two companies form the perfect platform for ongoing talent solutions leadership in every market and region the group operates in across the Asia Pacific.

Part of Recruit Global Staffing

Both Chandler Macleod, one of the region’s largest employers, and Peoplebank, the leading IT and digital specialist talent solutions provider, were acquired by Recruit Holdings Co. Ltd. four years ago. Until now Chandler Macleod and Peoplebank have operated and reported independently into this unit despite having similar operations and locations throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific.

One company ready for sustained future growth

Recruit Global Staffing is confident that the time is right to bring these two very good companies together, creating a truly great industry leader which is ready for sustained future growth. The best of both organisations will be combined, enabling enhanced service capability to customers across the Australian and Asia Pacific markets. Recruit Global Staffing’s CEO, Rob Zandbergen: “It will deliver advantages through both scale and process enhancement, allowing business units to focus on further delighting their customers. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved.”

‘A transnational opportunity’

Longstanding Peoplebank CEO Peter Acheson will lead Chandler Macleod Group as Chief Executive Officer. “This is a transformational opportunity to create a significant, market leading business. We can leverage the two companies’ best practices in service offering, people, brand, learning and development, IT systems and industry best processes”.

A shared mission

Together Chandler Macleod and Peoplebank will contribute to Recruit’s mission to make the world faster, simpler, closer, and helping people to aspire to their purpose in life. Staff, clients and candidates alike can look forward not only to a faster, simpler and closer customer experience, but also to benefiting from enhanced solutions, greater opportunity, more efficiency and more innovation.

Published in Newsroom

Australia is in the middle of an important transition from fossil fuel-based energy systems to more renewable energy options. At its current rate, it is on track for a goal of 50% renewable electricity by 2025. The transition also creates job opportunities. As the workforce manager for a huge solar project in North West Victoria, Chandler Macleod Group is making sure that these opportunities benefit the local community.

Australia’s top solar spot

In 2018, Chandler Macleod Group (CMG) was appointed as the workforce management provider for a new 112 Megawatt Karadoc Solar Farm being constructed by Beon Energy Solutions. Remotely located in North West Victoria - Australia's top solar spot due to the state's highest solar exposure and average sunshine hours - the farm will generate enough power to supply 110,000 homes.

Prioritizing social value

Chandler Macleod Group was tasked with recruiting and employing a diverse and strictly local workforce of 300 people. Chandler Macleod Group partnered with six local community groups to ensure that the majority of the construction workers were locally sourced, and that people were from a variety of different backgrounds including female, indigenous and mature workers and the long-term unemployed.

Read the full story at Recruit Holdings. 

Recruit Global Staffing is subsidiary to Recruit Holdings. Read more on Sustainability at Recruit Holdings

Published in Newsroom
Perceptions of what it takes to be a modern leader, are changing. Nowadays, soft skills are seen as vital for leaders to run an organisation successfully. Great leaders instil a positive culture, engage their staff, build a strong relationship with their workers and have a communicated and valid strategic direction and vision for their organisations.

These are the main lessons in a recent study by Chandler Macleod. Between November 2016 and March 2018 6267 Australians were assessed via an online survey. The key question of Chandler Macleod’s research was ‘what distinguishes good leadership from great leadership?’

Soft skills have emerged

The willingness and capacity of leaders to drive and shape culture is seen as the most crucial way to achieve success and effectiveness. ‘Vision & Future’, and ‘Relationship Building’ were the other two most frequently reported success factors. ‘It is interesting to note that what may have once been described as soft or fluffy skills have emerged as the most important success factors for leadership success’, Chandler Macleod concludes.

No one size fits all

Perhaps not surprisingly, perceptions of leadership success vary among different groups of workers. For example, the younger the worker, the more importance was placed on a leader’s presentation skills. Older workers tend to place more value on a leader’s ability to focus on the company’s financial success. But among all generations, culture and staff engagement was reported the top success factor. The researchers also found that there was essentially no gender difference in how successful participants perceived their leaders to be.

Implications for practice

So what are the practical implications of these perceptions on leadership? Chandler Macleod suggests that ‘what were once perceived as soft skills are becoming increasingly critical to organisations and leadership success’. ‘While vision and future focus can be seen as a fundamental, it’s a leader’s ability to effectively drive and shape culture that can make or break an organisation.’

Identify leaders at early stage

Organisations should identify leaders with such qualities at the selection and recruitment stage, suggests Chandler Macleod. ‘Incorporating specific questions at interviews, assessing capability via psychometric testing and asking targeted reference checking questions are relatively easy and cost-effective ways to ensure organisations are adequately addressing these success factors prior to making any important selection decisions.’

Furthermore, coaching should be utilised to help leaders build upon their communications and interpersonal skills.

Read the paper here (isuu)

[Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash]
Published in Newsroom
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