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Eastland Groupa Finalist In Energy Excellence Awards

Tairāwhiti-based infrastructure company Eastland Group has been announced as a finalist in the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards 2019.

They are nominated in the new Well-being Award category for their workplace initiative “Mind Matters”, which aims to increase staff’s mental well-being and resilience. Other finalists in the category are Contact Energy and Meridian Energy.

Mental well-being at work

“We’re delighted to have been selected as a finalist in the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards,” says Eastland Group People and Performance Manager Jarred Moroney.

“Mental health is a vital piece of the health and safety puzzle. We can implement every health and safety policy under the sun, but the reality is that if staff are not mentally prepared to be at work, they could be a hazard to themselves and others around them.”

Mind Matters programme

Eastland Group operates several energy businesses: Eastland Network, the lines company for Gisborne, Wairoa and the East Coast; Eastland Generation, which runs geothermal power plants in Kawerau and a hydro scheme near Wairoa; and Eastland Energy Solutions, which is exploring the opportunities offered by emerging technologies.

In 2017 the company began looking for programmes to improve staff’s mental well-being at work.

“For Mind Matters to be effective, we were going to have to create a fundamental cultural shift at Eastland Group, from the stoic Kiwi “she’ll be right” to a friendly Kiwi “how’s s/he doing?” says Mr Moroney.

Mind Matters is a 4-step approach to promote mental wellness and resilience. It consists of three training programmes and a combination of supporting policies from Eastland Group.

1. Recognise: Busy Brain Management training

Teaching staff to recognise when their brains are overloaded with information and their decision-making skills are compromised, and techniques to overcome this.

2. Talk: Courageous Business Conversations training
It takes courage to talk about mental health or speak up when something is not safe. Courageous Business Conversations empowers staff with techniques to be able to have tough conversations with each other, and with any support services they may need to engage with.

3. Connect: Mates in Tairāwhiti workshops
Workplace suicide prevention programme Mates in Tairāwhiti teaches staff to notice patterns of behaviour or circumstances which may signal that a friend, whanau member or colleague is struggling. And, how to connect them to professional help.


4. Support: Eastland Group policy
Changes to Eastland Group policy ensure ongoing support and enhancement of mental well-being. This includes access to EAP counselling services and allowing staff to take mental health days as sick leave.

Programme outcomes

Since beginning Mind Matters, Eastland Group has seen an increase in the number of people using EAP counselling services – a free service provided to all staff.

Mr Moroney explains: “I believe this demonstrates that Mind Matters is working. Our staff are feeling more comfortable talking about their mental health, and reaching out to the appropriate services. We’ve also seen a significant reduction in workplace harm.”

“Since the training, there is a lot more of an open attitude,” says Murray Carman, Eastland Network Asset and Planning Manager. “‘Are we thinking straight?’ ‘Did we have an okay day?’ ‘Are we ready for the job?’ It has changed the whole way people think about sharing with each other."

“For any business, providing a safe working environment is essential,” adds Eastland Group Chief Executive Matt Todd. “The Mind Matters programme goes far beyond this, to equip our staff with the tools to stay mentally as well as physically resilient.

“The uptake of these programmes across the Group has been inspiring to see. It’s largely thanks to the support of the Eastland Group board and senior leadership team, combined with the unwavering enthusiasm from our staff, that has made this programme a success.

“We’re also mindful of the fact that some of these learnings can be of real benefit for other local employers and employees. So we’re rolling out Mates in Tairāwhiti to workplaces around the region, with the support of Eastland Community Trust.”

Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards

The Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards are open to organisations operating in the New Zealand energy sector such as retailers, generators, network companies, pipeline owners, oil/gas explorers and producers. The winners will be announced on 21 August.

ends

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