UK’s NHS may adopt Israeli commercialization model
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on December 26, 2018
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018
26 Dec, 2018 12:30 | Gali Weinreb
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is quite similar to the Israeli system. The entire population has health insurance, which offers community health services and manages hospitals. In the UK, however, the entire chronically cash-strapped health system belongs to the state, while health services in Israel are provided by the health funds and the state owns only some of the hospitals. Nevertheless, the two systems have more similarities than differences.
That may be the reason why UK NHS national clinical lead for innovation Prof. Tony Young has decided to adopt some of the technology commercialization activity by the Israeli health funds in the NHS. “We were enthused about your commercialization companies, because they operate slightly differently. They not only give the health organization’s technologies to startups; they sometimes manage them as projects within the health fund. We saw this at both Clalit Health Services and Maccabi Health Services. Sometimes the health fund from which the technology came serves as a research site and founds a company around the internal project only later. It’s even possible to get government financing for it through the Israel Innovation Authority. I don’t use the term ‘unique’ very often, but this really is special.”
Young said that he was formerly a surgeon, and also founded medical device companies. The NHS has no technology commercialization companies like those of health funds and hospitals in Israel. “The NHS is divided into districts. Each district has a connection with the local university, and can commercialize technology of a doctor working in the same university. For me, this is an advantage for the health funds having their own commercialization company, and I plan to also propose this for our organization.”
Young is visiting Israel in order to offer Israeli companies an opportunity to try out their technologies at the NHS. During his visit, he met with 50 companies in 72 hours. “We met companies in a very broad range of areas: companies in information, machine learning, genetic diagnostics, medical devices, drugs, and cyber protection for hospitals. I was very impressed by their products in the sensors, wearable products, and artificial intelligence spheres.”
Young said that significant contacts had begun with 5-6 companies interested in establishing activity in the UK and using NHS hospitals as a trial site. For example, following the visit, Upright Technologies, a company that developed a device for keeping proper balance, will try out its product on 1,000 NHS patients. NHS and Upright will jointly fund the trial.
“Israelis don’t work the right way in the UK market”
Young’s visit to Israel was organized by the Department for International Trade (DIT) in the UK embassy in Israel. Anat Weiss-Ronen, who works with the DIT, is also the address for anyone interested in considering trying out their products in the UK health system or establishing a presence in the UK.
“We saw that many companies aren’t working the right way in the UK market. First they market to the UK from Israel, and only later do they found a UK company. For agencies like the NHS, establishing a UK company is an initial step showing a commitment to the UK market and reliability. It is important for a company interested in working with the NHS to present its complete business plan in the UK and a plan demonstrating that installing the technology is economically worthwhile for the organization, including clinical data and backed by opinion-makers in the UK,” Young says.
“Globes”: Israeli companies that tried to work with the NHS tend to say that it is crippled by its budget, and accepts only products that save money from the first day after they are installed. How much of that is true?
Young: “This is not our policy. We do install products requiring some initial investment. We have a plan called innovation and technology payment, in which we use a government budget to clear away some of the barriers pertaining to technology that does not make back the investment from the first day. One of the products introduced under this program, not an Israeli one, is the Heartflow system, which uses artificial intelligence to examine whether a person offered a stent to prevent heart attacks really benefits from the procedure. Today, unfortunately, many heart patients receive this treatment even if its value is not completely clear, because it is profitable for the hospitals. In the long term, of course, this technology will be profitable for the NHS, but it needs support in the first stage. I saw companies in Israel with similar ideas. You look at the larger picture, and I hope we do, as well.”
“I didn’t see a system that purports to replace human beings”
Young talks about two other systems recently installed by the NHS. One is My-COPD, a system for managing drug treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. Among other things, the system teaches the patients how to use an inhaler correctly, thereby saving on repeat hospitalization. Hospitals, he says, were not very enthusiastic about preventing repeat hospitalization, because they are paid for it.
Another system enabled cancer patients to switch to hospitalization at home, because it can be used to monitor the symptoms they experience and call them back to the hospital if necessary. This digital system was useful not only because it documented the symptoms more frequently and continuously, but also because it lowers the psychological barrier – the patients complain to their tablet much earlier, while they called people only when the situation was already very serious.
Will digital medicine make hospitals unnecessary at some point or significantly reduce their role?
“I think there will always be treatment centers like hospitals. Human evolution shows that the person is the most amazing thing ever developed. The personal connection is the number one factor affecting health. We’ll always need people, at least in the foreseeable future.
“There’s a lot of hype about digital health, and within this hype, there are several things that are really causing a change. Hype is a good thing, because it leads to investment in innovation, instead of in safe instruments, but not everything that people invest in because of hype will really survive and change the face of medicine.”
Which digital medicine applications do you think will survive past the hype?
“Artificial intelligence systems for radiology and pathology, but not as a substitute for professionals – mostly in order to prioritize certain cases in the queue, and in order to speed up their work and make it more efficient. Also tools for planning surgery and diagnostic tools, or automation of laboratory tests. In certain cases in which action cannot be taken today without agreement between at least two people, we may be able to make do with an agreement between a person and a machine. To tell the truth, I’ve never seen a system purporting to replace people in the medical field soon, and not only because of opposition from doctors and other professionals. The technology simply hasn’t gotten there yet.”
israelnewtech.com | By: Mickey Chesla, Blog Manager | Monday March 23rd, 2015
“Impact belongs to the future. The old economy is dead, the new economy is not based not on size or authority, but rather on innovation.” These were the words of Shimon Peres, the 9th President of Israel, at the first Impact Investing Conference In Israel which took place in Tel Aviv on March 16th.
The conference brought together investors, fund managers, philanthropists and business leaders from the world over, in order to advance the impact investing arena. Impact investing is a quickly growing global movement of investors who are interested in combining a positive social impact, together with financial profit, in their investment choices.
Shimon Peres opened the event, and spoke about the differences between the “old” economy and the “new” economy. “The new economy doesn’t need instructions, governments or weapons, rather it is based on good will and good products. This should be the force that drives us as Jews. Because Judaism is based on morality, and I believe we cannot create technology without a moral code.”
The event included Israel’s most senior investors in the hi-tech and other arenas, such as Chemi Peres, Gigi Levy, Eden Shochat and others. The event was an opportunity for start-ups with relevant solutions for the impact vision to present their technologies to investors and industry.
Oded Distel, head of the Investment Promotion Center and Israel NewTech at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, presented at the event, and said: “We at Israel NewTech have been dealing with water and alternative energy for years, and of course impact investing is a natural fit for cleantech. I know that many investors have in mind the potential for good inherent in the technologies they advance. I’m glad to see this event take place, which helps to bring these good intentions into a more organized structure.”
One of the investors at the event was Dr. Harold Wiener, founding partner at Terra Venture Partners. “As investors we have the responsibility and ability to create a real change in the world in which we live. Every time we open our wallet, whether to make a donation or to invest in a new venture, we should think if beyond the personal bottom line, we can also bring added value. Where Terra is concerned, impact investments are the most natural thing, and actually, I don’t know how to invest otherwise. There’s no doubt in my mind that making money doesn’t conflict with doing good – the opposite is true,” concluded Dr. Wiener.
The event was organized by Impact Investing Israel, an organization led by Ronny Faivelovitz, and it took place in the framework of an annual event by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the largest Jewish philanthropic body in the world.
Speakers at the event include: Sir Ronald Cohen, Eden Shochat, Chemi Peres, Eytan Stibbe, Barak Goldstein, Avi Naor, Yadin Kaufmann, Allan Barkat, Nir Gordon, Gig Levy, Dr. Rafi Gidron, Danny Almagor and representatives from international organizations.
New accelerator offers a hand to the mature entrepreneur
By Shoshanna Solomon 28 March 2017
Investment program called Future, in collaboration with Facebook Israel, targets those 45+ with a track record and an idea to develop
Entrepreneurship is not just for young geeks whizzing by on their electric bikes with dogs in tow, wearing T-shirts as they meet investors and scoop up money and attention. In fact, gray hair and the experience that comes with it can be an asset.
The “Future” accelerator and investment program, set up through a collaboration of private investors and Facebook Israel, is targeting more mature, experienced businessmen and entrepreneurs, not necessarily from the high-tech world, who have some 20 years of proven professional track record in their field of work and a good, undeveloped idea.
The aim is to help these older aspiring entrepreneurs overcome the ever-changing challenges of marketing and development in the era of social media. The program participants will be mentored by marketing and product development gurus from the industry who will give them insights into the knowledge and marketing strategies needed for their products, Future said in a statement.
“When you talk about startups and entrepreneurs, you tend to think of youngsters aged 20 or 30. We want to change that perception,” said Ronny Faivelovitz, who set up the program together with her investor partners. “There are hundreds of 45+ people with a huge amount of experience in business and high tech that set out to new challenges and independent businesses. The program and the fund we have set up will spur and enlarge the circle of the older entrepreneurs and give them the tools to succeed.”
Ronny Faivelovitz, founder of Future, an accelerator for more mature entrepreneurs (Courtesy)
The accelerator program will include 12 workshops, run by the backers of the program, in which tools will be provided to help the aspiring entrepreneurs set up a plan for their product. Participants will also have access to personal mentors, which include Facebook’s Tom Laster, Fiverr’s Eli Bogdan, Good Pharm’s Adam Friedler, Yael Shafrir from Playbuzz and other marketing and brand and development managers.
At the end of the program entrepreneurs will pitch their developments to Future investors and a select few will get an investment of $100,000 to develop their project, the statement said.
New accelerator aimed at over-50s entrepreneurs revealed
Entrepreneurs over 50 are being encouraged to join a new accelerator led by DCU Ryan Academy, Bank of Ireland and ISAX.
Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange (ISAX) has launched Ingenuity, a new accelerator programme targeted at mature business owners over the age of 50.
The accelerator programme is tailored for people with ambition for fast growth, to scale up their business to an internationally trading company.
‘There is a perception that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game but the reality couldn’t be further from it’
– NIAMH COLLINS
The programme is running in conjunction with DCU Ryan Academy and is sponsored by Bank of Ireland.
“There is a perception that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game but the reality couldn’t be further from it,” said Niamh Collins, COO of DCU Ryan Academy.
“We support an increasing number of mature entrepreneurs who are key players in Ireland’s business world. We look forward to welcoming the selected Ingenuity accelerator participants to the DCU Ryan Academy and to work with them to grow their business.”
The organisations are calling on ambitious entrepreneurs with fewer than 10 employees to take part in Ingenuity.
The one-day-a-week programme spread over nine weeks from 24 March to 26 May is designed to specifically address the challenges facing business owners. It includes workshops, bespoke mentoring and networking opportunities.
Applications are open until 20 February, and you can apply for the programme here.
Nations will depend on businesses led by over-50s
The accelerator has practical merit. Around 25pc of those who are self-employed in SMEs – which account for 99.7pc of all active Irish business enterprises – are in the 50-64 age group.
The increase in life expectancy and the reduction in the size of the working population will create a headache for policymakers.
There will be considerable change over the next 25 years when the number of people over the age of 65 will be more than 1.3m, compared with 460,000 in 2006.
Mature entrepreneurs are battling perceptions that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game, as well as technological change such as the rise of social media.
However, they have advantages over their younger counterparts as they have built up a wealth of industry knowledge and experience, and have forged a lifetime of connections and relationships.
“It’s a myth that scaling your own business is only for young people,” said ISAX CEO Anne Connolly.
“Recent research undertaken by future-focused market research company Amárach revealed that more than one in five over-50s had some experience of setting up their own business, and 17pc of those with experience set up their business when aged over 50.”
Alexandra Badenoch is breaking Telstra’s bureaucracy
SMH.com.au | By James Fernyhough | 20 Dec 2018 — 11:00 PM
Alexandra Badenoch, the executive responsible for cutting a quarter of Telstra’s workforce, concedes she is presiding over a period of workplace upheaval but says drastic action is needed if the formerly government-owned monopoly is to adapt to the increasingly competitive telco market.
Ms Badenoch said the job cuts were “well on track” with 3000 employees having already been sacked or notified of their redundancy. With another 6500 job cuts yet to go between now and 2022, she admitted that the massive shake-up was taking its toll on staff.
“We are extremely conscious that announcing that sort of job impact is a real issue for morale and engagement,” she said.
Telstra head of innovation and people Alexandra Badenoch must sack 9500 people over the next four years. James Brickwood
But she said the job cuts were an inevitable part of digitisation and product simplification. “If we have fewer, simpler products, you need fewer people creating, servicing and managing those products,” she said.
With the rollout of the national broadband network ending Telstra’s stranglehold on the nation’s fixed-line network, and with a sudden explosion in competition in the mobile sector in the last 12 months, plummeting revenues and margins have forced Telstra to rethink the way it does business.
Chief executive Andy Penn’s answer to this problem is the T22 plan. Announced last June, it is a radical cost-cutting and product simplification program that will transform the company from Australia’s fixed-line infrastructure monopoly into one of three or four mobile infrastructure owners and one of more than 100 NBN retailers.
Ms Badenoch had been Telstra’s head of human resources when Mr Penn announced his plan. In October her job title was changed to “group executive transformation and people”, and she is now a key part of Mr Penn’s new executive team.
From a cost-cutting perspective, Ms Badenoch’s role is central to T22: the radical overhaul of Telstra’s management structure and workforce, which includes the sacking of 9500 of Telstra’s 32,000 staff and a shift to the so-called “agile” method of management.
Two to four layers of management will disappear as a result, with 1000 executive and middle-management roles becoming redundant.
On top of the mass redundancies, Ms Badenoch is responsible for hiring 1500 new people, largely in high-skilled fields such as cyber security, data analytics and software defined engineering. That will bring net job cuts to 8000.
Last year Telstra spent $5.157 billion on wages and salaries for its workforce of 32,293. The 8000 job cuts should reduce this by well over $1 billion by 2022, when the total savings from the T22 cost-cutting programs are expected to reach $2.5 billion.
In the meantime, the redundancies and other cost-cutting programs will come at a cost of around $600 million for the 2019 financial year.
While Ms Badenoch accepted job cuts were bad for morale, she said Telstra was doing what it could to support sacked staff.
Telstra’s new executive team, from left: Michael Ebeid, Michael Ackland, Nikos Katinakis, Andy Penn, Alexandra Badenoch and Christian Von Reventlow. James Brickwood
“When we announced the strategy, we announced a $50 million transition program,” she said. “We have put a huge amount of focus on supporting those who are leaving us regardless of your level in the organisation.”
She said this $50 million fund would go towards training sacked staff in skills such as resume writing, interviewing for jobs and starting their own business.
She said the union was not “happy” about the changes – Communication Workers Union official Greg Rayner has dubbed Mr Penn “Andy Pennypincher” – but she did not expect industrial action over the job cuts, though she did expect action on the separate matter of Telstra’s new enterprise bargaining agreement early next year.
Ms Badenoch said Telstra would survive with a much leaner workforce by adopting the “agile” method of management.
“Agile” management is generally associated with snazzy Silicon Valley companies like Google.
“Agile” is a style of management that does away with traditional hierarchical, department-based ways of working, replacing them with much more flexible, cross-functional and fluid methods. Ms Badenoch said it was “a little bit more” than simply hot-desking and getting fewer people to fill more roles.
“Where there is in an agile team you create the team’s objectives, you create collective ownership of that, you plan generally anywhere between three to 10-week cycles, rather than annual cycles, so you work on a much more iterative rhythm,” she said.
“The teams will generally be cross-functional. So I work in HR, so in a traditional world I worked with HR people. But in an agile cross-functional team, I will be working with a marketing person, with a sales person, so I work on the work rather than in my discipline.
“It’s really about changing the role of the leader in the organisation, being less and less about creating work and directing work, to being one that is about coaching their teams, which is about identifying roadblocks that are getting in the way of our frontline team from delivering.”
In shifting to the agile method, Ms Badenoch said Telstra was finally “trying to get rid of bureaucracy”.
This includes radically reducing the number of mass-market products available, from 1800 to just 20, which her colleague Michael Ackland will oversee.
She said this in itself would reduce the need for call-centre staff and product developers. But reducing the number of staff would promote product simplicity because fewer people would be trying to create new products.
“There is actually a relationship between the two. The more capacity you have, the more you tend to generate,” she said.
She said the need to coach employees in the agile method was creating some new vacancies for the 9500 staff whose roles will be made redundant.
While she would not say how many of the 1500 new roles would go to existing staff, she said the “coaching academy” could be 100 per cent filled by existing Telstra employees.
UTS leadership in start-ups says a lot about thirst for entrepreneurship
AFR.com | 21 Dec 2018
After a year of corporate shenanigans at the big end of town it is slightly contrarian and immensely optimistic to close out the year with a commentary about the phenomenal surge in entrepreneurship at the small end of town.
Over the past six months while politicians were playing leadership games in Canberra and leaders from the financial services sector were dragged over the hot coals at the Hayne royal commission more than 100 start-ups were created at the University of Technology Sydney.
This is significant when you consider the latest Startup Muster published in October found there were about 1465 strat-ups in total in Australia. The start-up survey relied on data analytics by the CSIRO subsidiary Data61.
This week the first of 132 start-ups began moving into a building around the corner from the UTS campus in the inner Sydney suburb of Ultimo. Each of these start-ups is led by a UTS student.
About 300 people are working for these 132 start-ups with an average age of 27-years-old. About 200 people working in these start-ups are not students which tells you the multiplier effect of starting new businesses.
The surge of start-up activity at UTS follows the appointment six months ago of Murray Hurps as the UTS director of entrepreneurship.
Hurps knows the start-up world inside out. He started his own company at age 16 called Ad Muncher, which ran for 14 years and became the second largest ad blocker in the world.
He was the chief executive of Fishburners, the co-working space which was located in the same building in Harris St, Ultimo, where the UTS start-ups will be housed.
Fishburners grew to be the largest start-up community in Australia. It is now part of the Sydney Startup Hub in a building above Sydney’s Wynyard Station, which also houses the fintech hub called Stone & Chalk.
Prior to joining UTS Hurps was the program director for the accelerator program called FUELD. It was Australia’s first data-focused accelerator program, in collaboration with Westpac, Data Republic, Reinventure, Amazon Web Services and Stone & Chalk.
Hurps is bubbling over with optimism about the future of Australian business after working with the start-ups coming out of UTS.
“These students are creating their own jobs rather than graduating and looking for a job,” he says.
On Friday morning, Hurps spent time helping three start-ups from UTS. The age of each student leading these young companies was 20 years old.
He says their enthusiasm for creating new businesses was infectious.
The start-up initiative at UTS, which is a university-wide, should make UTS the single most important source of start-ups from any university in Australia. The Startup Muster found that the University of NSW and the University of Sydney were ahead of UTS as sources of start-up founders but that will change in 2019.
Hurps says that Fishburners housed more than 1000 start-ups over a five year period.
“We aim to engage all students at UTS, inspire them to become startup founders, bring them together and connect them to outside support, whether it be accelerators, customers, investors or talent,” Hurps says.
“I’ve found UTS students to be incredibly entrepreneurial, and I think our main challenge in 2019 will be in supporting the number of startups our students want to launch.
“Universities are uniquely positioned to move Australia’s entrepreneurial needle in the right direction, and it’s our responsibility to inspire and educate students on the incredible opportunity they have.
“Not only are their living expenses and life commitments the lowest they’re likely to ever be, students are surrounded by available and affordable talent, educational resources and a multitude of support and funding programs clamouring for their attention.
“It will never be easier in their lives to launch a startup, and there will never be a more fertile ground to do so – especially here at UTS.”
Are retrenchments and restructures the hallmarks of lazy leadership?
smartcompany.com.au | Peter Shields | December 21, 2018
Restructuring is so common in both the private and public sectors that many workers will experience one after the other, in an ongoing series of upheavals.
Can this really be good for business? What impact is the constant threat of restructuring having on employee wellbeing and workplace culture?
This year has seen restructuring and layoffs within many large organisations, including the ABC, Fairfax, Myer and IAG. According to the Hays Salary Guide, more than half of employers were restructuring in 2017 to stay competitive in a rapidly changing business world.
In a recent report, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) predicted more than five million (40%) of Australian jobs are likely to disappear in the next 10 to 15 years due to technological advancements.
Times of great change call for great leadership — and the best leaders understand the perpetual tension between managing and leading. Your ability to get the balance right could be the difference between a company that thrives on change or one that falters.
Managing doesn’t work for complex adaptive systems
The notion of management relies on ‘the manager’ knowing the answer or holding the solution and telling people what to do to achieve it. It’s invaluable at times, but mostly overused.
The decision to restructure is almost always a financial one.
KPMG’s 2017 Evolving Deals Landscape survey reported 67% of businesses planning restructuring initiatives in the next three years were focused on active cost reduction.
But is this purely financial approach a symptom of over-management? Where does leadership come in?
In the Harvard Business Review, leadership luminary Ronald Heifetz observed: “The single biggest failure of leadership is to treat adaptive challenges like technical problems.”
Leaders who are too focused on fixing the technical problem will miss the adaptive challenge: the cultural side of the equation. Modern organisations are not linear beasts, so why prescribe organisation-wide change solely from a technical or financial perspective? Overlooking your people and culture is dangerous.
A recent study reviewed the results of 57 restructures and found despite the significant resources and time invested, less than one-third led to improved performance.
Managing change with a technical fix is understandable. The solution seems straightforward. But the easiest solution rarely suits the complex challenge of leading a large group of people through rapid change.
Deciding on a restructure and round of redundancies because it’s the easiest option is, at best, lazy, and at worst, reckless.
Getting technical help for a business problem should complement a raft of adaptive changes that re-establish business vitality.
Leadership in the 21st century — an age of rapid change
Semco’s Ricardo Semler inherited his father’s $5 million business and transformed it into one of Brazil’s most successful companies. Semler wanted to empower others and couldn’t accept the top-down management structure he inherited.
Today, Semco only employs makers and sellers. Other roles, including security, HR and quality control have been removed where possible. Managers don’t exist and team members take turns representing their team at meetings. Employees set their own salaries and work hours.
There’s no mission statement. No org chart. No written policies. Employees can attend board meetings. Everyone has access to the financial reports.
In Semler’s words: “We said, let’s give these people a company where we take away all the boarding school aspects of, this is when you arrive, this is how you dress, this is how you go to meetings, this is what you say, this is what you don’t say, and let’s see what’s left. The question we were asking was, how can we be taking care of people? People are the only thing we have.”
Semler created an industrial democracy, enabling his team to self-organise to achieve profit and client satisfaction. By dismantling the hierarchy, he removed the individual temptation to apply technical solutions to complex, multi-faceted problems.
Could this self-organising business model help businesses get off the restructure and redundancies merry-go-round?
When it comes to change, restructuring is the easy way out. To achieve sustainable change, bring your leadership into the 21st century. Allow your employees to own the problem and the solution because management is dead. Leadership is the new normal.
‘They are the employer and the employee’: Mental health for founders under spotlight
smh.com.au | By Emma Koehn | 13 December 2018 — 1:54pm
The federal government and small business leaders are doubling down on mental health support for entrepreneurs amid warnings the next six weeks can present tough challenges for founders.
On Wednesday small business minister Michaelia Cash hosted a round table of mental health and small business leaders in Canberra to discuss empowering founders, particularly sole traders, to protect their emotional well being.
It comes off the back of the Morrison government delivering a $3.1 million grant to mental health institute Everymind to extend its ‘Ahead for Business’ mental health program.
“That is huge for them that someone has acknowledged that they [business owners] are the employer and employee. We are showing that we are listening to small business and responding to what they are putting on the table and their concerns,” Cash says.
How Esha Oberoi overcame depression to build a $10 million business
“Across a lot of businesses, the end of the year is when you want to finish things off. There’s a push to work. People are tired, then you add in social functions on top of deadlines,” Skehan says.
Without proper frameworks for preparing for down time or seeking assistance, it can be a period of stress points, Skehan says.
Founder of Afea Care Services, Esha Oberoi, agrees. Last year Afea was turning over $10 million and as her home and aged care business grew revenue by more than 20 per cent over the past 12 months, mental health has been front of mind.
Esha Oberoi says business owners must think about planning to protect their own emotional health this time of year.
“As we’re spread between the business, social events and social media, our brains need to slow down. There’s no time unless we actually put things in our diary,” Oberoi says.
The founder has experienced depression previously and says she is taking a range of steps to empower herself and her staff to track their wellbeing. The end of year is particularly tough in the sector because regular carers tend to go on leave, Oberoi says.
Andrews announces royal commission into mental health
“This year, 3000 Australians will take their own lives. Countless more are trying to cope,” said Victorian premier Daniel Andrews during his visit to the Kyneton Men’s Shed.
Five years ago she began studying meditation after approached health care professionals with concerns when she couldn’t focus on her work within the business.
“I went through some generic tests and he said, ‘you’re a really high functioning individual, but you’re really stressed’,” Oberoi says.
The importance of discussing mental health from the top of a business down is now critical to her.
“As leaders I think we need to be vulnerable, and lead by example. If we’re having a tough day, where the agenda is so crippling, it’s ok to talk to the executive team about this,” Oberoi says.
Business planning key
News of the government’s focus on mental health has been welcomed as an acknowledgment self-employed people don’t see automatic success, says founder of cryptocurrency investing app Amber, Aleksandar Svetski.
“I think it’s brilliant because there has always been this neglect of business owners – people don’t realise how hard it is, particularly the self-employed, the non-Jeff Bezoses of the world, to make a living,” he says.
“All the focus has usually been on making sure the employee is fine.”
But these conversations are also important because mental health care is also a business planning issue, says small business advocate Leanne Faulkner.
Leanne Faulkner is an advocate for mental health in small business.
“I think it’s about where possible, having personal boundaries. And making sure you do have some time to celebrate or have downtime,” Faulkner says.
Planning in advance for the cashflow slowdown that happens each January can also help alleviate some pressure so business owners can take a holiday.
“Ask, ‘Do I know my gross profit margins?’ ‘Have I put money aside to cover my holiday?'” she says.
“Perhaps over the Christmas period, we all have time to do that.”
Trevor Roberts– Costs of Transition
- How does outplacement benefit organisations?
1.Importantly, it actually reduces the cost of downsizing. By investing in outplacement services for affected employees, companies will significantly cut the total costs of a downsizing action by reducing overlooked losses in absenteeism, turnover, and litigation. As companies become more adept at measuring the total costs of their layoff actions, corporate self-interest will increase utilisation of high quality outplacement programs.
2.In commercial terms, the provision of career transition support enhances an organisation’s reputation, future talent acquisition and retention, employee engagement and productivity, and the avoidance of direct and indirect separation
3.From a financial perspective, it may seem contradictory that investing in the wellbeing of ex-employees will support profits, especially given the reason for downsizing is to improve productivity by cutting costs. Executives and leaders may enquire why they should bother spending more money on affected employees, yet the answer is not as introspective as you might think: Organisations should invest because it helps the overall bottom line—high-quality outplacement minimises the extra costs that come along with downsizing.
- Research suggests that, if left unaddressed, the hidden costs of organisational change from both discharged and remaining employees consistently outweigh the savings gained from reductions in personnel. Studies show that absenteeism and turnover among remaining employees increase after downsizing, translating into lost productivity, lower stock prices, and lower profitability. Companies may also face huge costs from crippling litigation due to unfair dismissal claims.
- How the process supports HR professionals and leaders
- From pre-termination planning, to on-site presence at the day of termination, to follow-up coaching and support throughout the job search process, providers of high-quality outplacement guide clients through the process. More importantly, high-quality outplacement strives to improve the fundamental attitudes of these employees who have had to cope with job loss. With constant encouragement, interviewing practice, and regular one-on-one coaching sessions, career coaches work through clients’ fears and concerns and help them develop important job-finding skills. Clients, having accepted their former employer’s circumstances and decisions, are coached through the process—not only reducing the job search time, but improving the kind of jobs they find and giving them the tools necessary to move ahead in their careers.
1.There are seven key commercial reasons why businesses needs career transition/outplacement support for impacted employees:
Assists those who are affected to find another job
- Outplacement support guides affected employees through the job search process and prepares them for future job changes. Individuals are matched with an individual career coach who serves as a mentor, a sounding board and source of advice and motivation as they move through their job search. With a coach encouraging them, individuals explore their own strengths, “skill” themselves in the job search process (interviews, networking etc), reshape career paths, and move on more successfully to their next positions. They receive assistance to write their CV and cover letter and learn how to update and navigate LinkedIn and the art of networking. They practice and improve interview skills. And as a result, these individuals find equivalent or better jobs—fast.
- Other versions of this process include coaching on a transition to retirement, self-employment options and portfolio careers
2.Protects your brand
- Clients, investors, suppliers and other key stakeholders who see staff displaced in an uncaring manner and then observe those individuals struggle to reinvent themselves may form conclusions about the way the agency involved does business.
- A quiet shift to a more transactional relationship with the agency takes place – or is at risk of taking place – rather than one founded on genuine respect.
- Documentation becomes more formal (“maybe the person I am dealing with won’t be here tomorrow?”). Generally, we like to do business with people we can trust, and the presence of victims of poorly handled retrenchment decisions raises questions in our minds about those we do business with.
- Many organisations spend significant budgets and resources on positioning their brand externally with their clients and consumers generally. However, a firm’s internal brand is just as important.
- Employees who are satisfied with and committed to their roles and their teams will positively demonstrate a department’s brand in the way they represent the department internally, to clients and other external stakeholders.
- Supporting departing employees is therefore an important part of maintaining a positive internal employer and consumer brand.
- Macfarlan Lane, an organisation that merged with Trevor-Roberts in 2015, undertook research in 2010 into the effectiveness of employer’s management of senior staff exits as rated by former employees, and the impact of their actions on employment brands. (359 middle and senior managers completed a survey posted on the Six Figures website.)
- The research found a very low level of satisfaction with their departure experience, with 72% of former staff rated as active detractors unlikely to recommend their employer to family, friends and business colleagues.
- Only 6% were active promoters of their former employer. This figure demonstrates that organisations that manage to avoid damaging their employment brand are in the minority.
3.Increases the productivity of ‘survivors’
- When redundancies occur, the morale of remaining employees usually drops. This can be attributed to higher workloads, unproductive time spent “at the water cooler” discussing the terminations, strong loyalty toward lost colleagues and fear of future job cuts.
- Even a 1% drop in productivity can have significant impacts on the bottom line of a firm and the effectiveness of an organisation. A program which positively impacts the wellbeing of leavers and their ability to find new employment will improve morale. The result is more discretionary effort from ‘survivors’.
4.Reduces employee turnover & attrition costs
- The cost of turnover can be enormous, as it encompasses pre-separation costs (the employee pursuing the job hunt while at work), separation costs (exit interviews, administrative costs and payouts), vacancy costs (hiring a temporary substitute), recruitment costs (advertising, interviewing, deliberation time), and finally training and orientation costs (instruction manuals, mentoring, decreased productivity at first). As turnover increases after downsizing due to job insecurity, stress, decreased company loyalty, and decreased job satisfaction, these costs skyrocket.
- Increased absenteeism is a response to the perceived unfair treatment of former coworkers and the low morale amongst remaining employees. The onsite presence of career transition/outplacement providers on the day of a redundancy announcement and assisting former employees to find jobs faster serves to relieve the worries of surviving employees, typically reducing high absenteeism rates.
- When rumours of redundancy start, shock waves hit remaining employees and prompt them to start looking elsewhere. A study of Fortune 100 companies in the Academy of Management Journal showed that it didn’t take much downsizing to send the survivors running for the door.
- Layoffs targeting just 1% of the workforce preceded, on average, a 31% increase in turnover. This can translate into significant costs for an organisation, with some studies showing the cost of replacing employees can be anywhere between 3 and 10 times their annual salary.
- Turnover is often highest among those whom employers least wish to lose. Appropriate support for those leaving calms the flight of talented employees.
5.Controls future recruitment costs
- When a large investment bank was obliged to retrench several hundred investment bankers a few years ago and then used a very “thin” career transition service – several hundred investment bankers formed very poor opinions about the firm.
- Many would have resolved to only ever return if a much higher salary premium to the market would be on the table, and their view was widely disseminated through the market. Thus, for this firm to attract good people in the future, it will need to pay above market salaries in order to compensate for the employment risk and their own highly transactional culture – or it will be obliged to lower hiring standards of future recruits.
6.Reduces the likelihood and cost of legal action
- Employees who feel the company has treated them unfairly are increasingly likely to settle their grievance via legal action. An effective career transition/outplacement service can reduce perceptions of mistreatment and decrease the likelihood of a tribunal from 8 % to 2.8%1. Pre-termination planning ensures that companies carry out the downsizing in an open and straightforward way, so both terminated and remaining employees feel informed and treated with respect. Moreover, career coaches present onsite on the day of termination immediately help employees cope with the job loss, so that their last impression of the company is more positive.
7.Improves productivity of leaders
- Redundancies naturally coincide with increased tension and pressure on a business. Good support can alleviate stress and time pressure, leaving leaders better able to manage the remaining team and concentrate on the future effectiveness of the organisation.
Productivity Commission to examine mental health spending in wake of suicide crisis
smh.com.au | Michael Koziol | 7 October 2018
The Productivity Commission will undertake a major inquiry into the role of mental health in the economy as the Morrison government looks to extract better value from the $9 billion a year spent on mental wellbeing.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt have asked the commission to examine “whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money”, as well as how to improve economic and social participation for people struggling with their mental health.
Four million Australians deal with a chronic or episodic mental health issue each year, and one in five people affected by mental illness do not seek help because of the stigma, Mr Hunt said.
Of the $9 billion governments spent on mental health each year – or $1 million every hour – a little more than half comes out of federal coffers, with the rest coming from the states and territories, according to the Coalition government.
“It is crucial that we know that this funding is delivering the best possible outcomes for individuals and their families, and that is one of the issues the inquiry will investigate,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Australia’s suicide rate spiked last year to 3128 deaths – 262 more than in 2016. It was the equal-highest rate seen in the past 10 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Men accounted for three-quarters of deaths by intentional self-harm.
Lifeline chairman John Brogden called it “an outrage” and observed: “We are spending more than we’ve ever spent on suicide prevention, but the more we spend the worse things seem to get.”
In 2014, a landmark report from the University of NSW and the Black Dog Institute put the annual economic cost of mental ill health at $11 billion, chiefly due to absenteeism and lost productivity.
Former National Mental Health Commission chairman Allan Fels had pushed for the Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health, calling it the “weak point” of Australia’s health system.
Psychiatrist and youth mental health advocate Patrick McGorry, a former Australian of the Year, said the government’s move was “probably a good thing – unless it kicks the can down the road”.
He warned the government it needed to increase – not reduce or curb – spending on mental health.
“If this is a way of looking at extracting efficiency out of the current underspend, that would be a very poor outcome,” Professor McGorry told Fairfax Media.
“The investment is so out of sync with the scale of the problem. This is why all these terrible outcomes are occurring.”
The inquiry’s terms of reference direct the commission to develop a framework to measure and report the outcomes of mental health policies and expenditure against workforce participation, productivity and economic growth over the long term.
It will also examine how sectors outside health – such as education, the workplace, social services and the justice system – can contribute to better mental health and economic participation.
“It is important that policy settings are sustainable, efficient and effective in achieving their goals,” the document states. The commission will report back to the government in 18 months.
Research by the Harvard Medical School cited by the World Economic Forum found productivity was affected by absenteeism and “presentee-ism”, whereby people work long hours with little impact. Employees with mental health issues took 5 per cent more days off work, according to the study.
The World Health Organisation estimates mental health disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity each year. The number of people suffering depression worldwide is estimated at 300 million, and the illness is prevalent in developed countries such as Australia.
The federal government dedicated an additional $338 million to mental health in the May budget, including extra services for aged care facilities, follow-up care for people who attempt suicide and extra funds for Lifeline.
Comments are now closed
It is what it is. You could throw 100 billion dollars worth of antidepressants and psychiatrists at it and people will still kill themselves. Probably in even greater numbers – as Brogden has observed.
A good start would be to ease up on the false promises about the ease and effectiveness of treatment. Stop with the glib reassurances. Stop treating patients like idiots.
Currently, the treatment of mental health is a passive investment. When someone drops the knife and calls lifeline, its a cry for help. Its no good relying on the person to take the day off work to go to a GP. That rarely happens and sufferers rely on charities to seek counceling.
They hit this barrier where its quite reasonable to feel that the professionals can’t intervene…like the next day for some to come around and give them some personal support.
I have had three friends commit suicide in recent times. None had a diagnosed condition of depression, yet when you dug a bit, the signs were obvious. This is the failure of the system. The stigma sticks and there is no way to change peoples’ discomfort when it comes to mental illness.
Suicide is an overwhelmingly male problem. Perhaps we could take two steps forward at no cost by redirecting the government money currently spent on advertisements to tell men there is something wrong with them toward fixing some of the problems men face.
Does the rise in mental health issue correlate to increase workloads/time in transit/less time with family and friends. Yes its wise to spend more on mental health, but is it actually fixing the cause = bad government.
There is a huge amount of research coming out linking mental health and gut dysbiosis- a loss of biodiversity in the gut. This could be caused by over-use of antibiotics, exposure to herbicides and and pesticides in the food supply chain, trauma and over-hygiene. In any case, my personal experience with partner suffering from chronic depression with Bipolar 1 disorder (her adult life was spent in suffering, psychiatric institutions and suicide attempts) has shown that a) it is not just the person with the mental illness that suffers, but their support network as well; and b) at least in the case of my partner, fixing the dysbiosis in her gut fixed her depression (and it seems her mania as well). Her transformation from being chronically ill to physically and mentally well (off all medication for a year now and happy) has demonstrated to me very clearly that there should be a lot more research into the role of the microbiome in mental illness. Access to healthy food should be increased in psychiatric institutions and access to sugar should be restricted, especially as many psychiatric medications can cause rapid weight gain.
Carole (in the Notley-Smith electorate)
With all due respect , one of the better ways to improve mental health is to reduce the degree of inequality that leads to incredible financial stress, homelessness, and in general the rich having their way with the poor (including most of the 30% who rent, even if they make decent salaries, but who are in financial stress and anxiety about the future). Increase pensions, increase newstart, fix the disability system so that true disableds actually qualify for payments (so many don’t now, even though they can’t get work due to their disability), give tax breaks to people who don’t live in a home owned by themselves or an immediate family member, etc.
I am in remission from Major Depressive Disorder because of a combination of my hard work and the skills of my psychiatrist and clinical psychologist.
Initially I was on an antidepressant but discontinued with approval and close monitoring from my psychiatrist.
I am grateful that I can afford private medical insurance. I have only used it once; a month as an inpatient at a private psychiatric hospital followed up with two years of weekly outpatient therapy group sessions for people with mood disorders. I have no idea what would have happened if this had not been an option for me.
For many people with mood disorders the six Medicare-subsidised sessions with mental health professionals are totally inadequate. Given the neo-con attitude of the LNP government it is most unlikely it will happen but increasing that number substantially would be a very good place to start.
Desperate people do desperate things. If we were a more considerate society, we’d have less desperate people.
As Brogden said the more we spend the worse it seems to get. But keep spending. The psychiatrist says we need to spend more. Just don’t expect a different outcome.
Young people know there is no hope of buying a house and supporting a family, things taken for granted a generation ago
It is really not surprising why this is happening. Australia is isolating, no one talks to anyone anymore, pubs are too expensive so people stay home, suburbs are spread out and most have nothing of interest aside from a shopping centre, jobs come with hellish 1 hour commutes during peak hour and only pay enough to have a basic existence, cost of living just keeps on rising and so on. Life has never been harder.
“(We need to) examine whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money”.
This is of course Pollie speak for “How much money can we cut from this budget….?”
One more time; ‘value for money?’ How do we as contributing citizens rationalize extreme wealth and its discretionary accumulation and disposal, against “mental health care – value for money”? I can’t fathom it and surely I am not alone in this
from past experience, I can attest that, when I needed help with mental health the most, various avenues and providers failed me – massively.
First I rang a few hotlines. The advice I was given was “think of something good about yourself and try and keep positive”. Wow – I hadn’t thought of that! Waste of time.
Secondly, I tried to get help from my government agency HR. I was told to take my annual holidays, which I did. Two days before I was due to return they sent me an email saying that I couldnt return until I passed a psych test to demonstrate that I had the skills required for the position. I spent the next 18 months fighting HR, my boss and her boss and responding to various allegations in the govt contracted psychologist to get my job back. The only was I final succeeded was telling them I wasn’t going to jump through any more hoops and to put me back in my job or face legal action.
Could all this be the result of a nanny state. If so nanny has failed. Throw all the money you like at this problem, something more endemic is at work.
And nobody really knows.
Everyone says that the stigma has been removed from mental illness, it hasn’t. As long as this remains the case suicide rates will remain stubbornly high regardless of how much money is thrown at the problem.
I tried to find factual suicide rates and deaths from workplace accidents or trauma and there appears to be no one collecting them Australia wide let alone state wide. I spoke to others in the area and the problem is what police write in reports and the lack of standards as to reporting. This country has no idea of what is happening and it is going to get worse just as it is in the USA. This is due to a large population of baby boomers getting old or not wanting to wait to get dementia or such. Australia will only bite the bullet when enough family members have come to find the dead. We need the right to end our lives in a compassionate way and stop this pretending we can stop death or that quantity beats quality.
Sounds like a good thing to do. Clearly must be some improvements to be made.
Spending nothing would not yield worse results.
norse of melbourne
another round of commission meetings will never fix the problem no matter how many times they get together. The solution is simple employ more people on the ground – social workers, counsellors and youth workers. Instead they are squeezing agencies so hard they are cutting programs and workers, then everyone turns to each other hands in the air and ask what is going wrong.
Why is no mention made of the fact that 60% of suicides are men? This is just the sort of “gendered” statistic that were it the other way around would have feminist screaming that it needed specific gender based programs to target the most vulnerable gender. But when it is men? A few bucks to establish some Mens Sheds, worthy as they are, which do little to lower the numbers. When it is a women’s issue we get money thrown at non stop advertising on tv to try and solve it.
Maybe the productivity commission could extend its remit to Nauru, where MSF, the provider of mental health services to the desperately stressed refugees (including children at grave risk from resignation syndrome) has just been summarily ordered out by the Nauru “government”. This tinpot collection of venal bully boys has repeatedly blocked even Dutton-approved evacuations of gravely ill patients. The productivity commission could interest themselves in the $400,000 per head spend to keep genuine refugees in indefinite detention too.
Having lost my partner some 8 years ago to suicide, it clearly came out of the blue to me, I am a MH person, and should be able to see signs, if there were any, but there weren’t. If we can reduce this sad loss of life, we must. Not only is the person the is feeling suicidal feel terrible, its others who are effected by their loss.
It is important to consider that the actual numbers each year do not tell a true story. The rate per 100,000 head of population gives a truer idea about whether the suicide ‘rate’ is going up. Essentially it has been pretty much the same in western countries for the past 100 years with the occasional spikes and declines aside. This is not to diminish the impact of suicide deaths but rather to give some sense of proportion.
Additionally, it is ridiculous to suggest that a focus on the ‘money spent on mental health’ is the issue. It is a societal problem with many factors playing into why people die by suicide. What about employment, disconnection, alienation in our cities, the whole economic structure of our system? Calling every emotional problem, every bit of sadness or discontent, or anxiety a ‘mental illness’ is ridiculous.
The people who really need the most care – those with serious axis 1 mental illnesses, are the ones that get the very least care. Those that need it the least – get access to most of the mental health care.
Research in the US, UK & Australia shows that the suicide rate increases significantly when conservative governments are in power. In Australia, the increase is even larger when conservatives are in government at both federal & state levels. Google it.
The goals being….getting more work out the mentally ill. Of course, what else would you expect?
In Western society people have increasingly less control over their lives. Theyre denigrated, by society and governments, for not securing jobs that dont exist. Theyre penalised, threatened and charged even more simply for not being able to secure what many are given on a plate. Nothing like a good inheritance tax to separate the men and women from the boys and girls.
Maybe rather than arguing over how much money is spent on treating mental illness, we should also be looking at the causes that drive so many people down that track.
The gambling epidemic that has the full backing of the Alan Jones backed state government. Predatory lending that leads to unescapable debt. A housing market that has become a sport for speculating investors while shutting out the average worker. Generations of child abuse covered up by institutions that they hoped would protect them. Soldiers trained to kill and be killed then left on the scrapheap while politicians are pampered for life. Police, paramedics, nurses etc, who are expected to deal with the worst that society can throw at them with little to no support.
The list goes on, and while I don’t think money should be cut to treating the symptoms of mental health, in the long run money could be saved by becoming a better society that doesn’t reward greed at the expense of the common man.
“whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money”.
What about human beings?
Australia spent $122 million on same sex marriage plebiscite that ReachOut, Headspace, Orygen, the Black Dog Institute and Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Centre in a joint statement claimed could prevent up to 3000 high school suicide attempts every year. If the experts are correct current data should be showing a reduction.
Part of the problem is the extortionate cost of seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist. On the northern beaches where I live, the average cost of a consultation with a psychologist is $150-200 per hour, and for a psychiatrist about $200-350 per hour. Sadly, many of these professionals are more interested in money than mental health.
Talk about mental illness ,every where you look these days all we can see are people looking at their mobile phone screens.
Wouldn’t the most cost-free solution be for all of us to take up with ScoMo’s imaginary friend?
Yet another ” inquiry ” to find the bleeding obvious.
Leftist Elite Koolaid
Australia’s mental health has increased in lockstep with the increase in anti-human, social engineering policies of the Leftist Elite and will continue to do so.
I believe that two of the major causes of suicide in men are (1) long-term unemployment and (2) the struggle to pay maintenance for ex-wives. It is important that Labor provide their ideas to solve these issues. It would seem that job creation is of high importance, i.e. more than existing employees getting excessive wage increases. There also needs to be a cross party discussion on what can be done to minimise the financial impact of family court orders on ex-partners.
No kidding….(Veterans aside) The DVA has been quietly winding back spending on its Suicide Prevention Program. Just another example of how “serious” Government takes mental health. As for the DVA – they find veterans a wretched inconvenience who interrupt their morning tea & long lunches.
Look the LNP could not run chook raffle this will be how to cut funding that’s all they know.
Thank you for responses to my comment on bullying but I maintain it is a major issue in mental health. If you read and research the area, it is well-documented.
Australia is miles behind on understanding bullying and light years behind on actually doing anything meaningful about it. The experiences and outcomes most bullied people face are never publicised. They’re hidden away and that is why there is a chronic lack of awareness.
Further, every time it is raised, there is denial – ”Oh, no, there was no bullying. The victim is just weak … the victim is a princess … the victim should harden up etc …’.
Highly ignorant statements that show how the society misses the point – it is about abuse by the perpetrator, not the victim.
The police don’t investigate the victim if there’s an assault in the street but bullying, and the entire system turns its sights on the victim. That is in Australia – competent countries do not tolerate any such nonsense.
Bullying is the root common factor in family violence, racism, sexism, rage etc – dominator, aggressor abusive conduct. It is pervasive in this society and is widely experienced in the places where people spend much of their lives – schools/ education and workplaces.
Health is largely social. The society has gone to ruin under neoliberalism and so-celled competition for everything, including in workplaces. So-called because it often results in bullying to knock people out of contention for tenure, promotion etc.
The government likes to make out mental illness is an individual issue, like breaking a leg or being born with poor eye sight. This neatly lets the communal and social aspects off the hook and it is deeply flawed.
The’solution’ seems to be medication and a continuous run of articles on how how mental illness is increasing …
I have seen a person who was perfectly well being bullied into a breakdown at work. I have also heard a young, at-risk person in deep despair lament the horrible way people treat each other. I have also read the accounts of people whose mental health has suffered from the way they have been treated.
I take my information from what I have seen, read and researched, not from what the government put out, or any other party of potentially vested interest.
I personally think the way the society is going is deeply damaging on every level and it is time that was the focus, not how to put some sort of band-aid on the symptoms.
Societies with a healthy ideology, sense of community and
for all the people do not have these problems.
The tiresome ‘debate’ between the so-called left and right, carried out in abuse and rage, disparaging the entire country for this or that, is a good starting point for examining the sort of bullying messages constantly carried in public domain.
This current health minister and Dutton supporter was a disaster as environment minister. I just hope that he is still not referring to Wikipedia to help his decision making??
“ The Productivity Commission will undertake a major inquiry into the role of mental health in the economy. “ How about an inquiry why mental health issues are so prevalent. There are so many pressures today. Business ideas have infiltrated the broader. society. Life is seen more as competition than co-operation. The survival of the fittest. In other words, the most ruthless. Consuming an endless stream of goods does not nourish the soul. Certain sectors are allowed to profit by harming others, e.g. junk food, alcohol, gambling in particular. Society today is too materialistic. That’s the real problem.
Crisis … yes … and the first thing the LNP government needs to do is fund health services adequately and properly … and the same goes for aged care and disability services …
Timely but while we wait for an enquiry or a commission or a think tank or …
Maybe they could start by looking at the reduction in money at the coalface. When I started as a Medicare registered counsellor 11 years ago, it was possible for patients with mental health issues to get 16 Medicare subsidised sessions per year. That was inadequate then for complex cases for anyone with a long history of depression or trauma but at least enabled nearly 4 months of weekly visits or 8 months fortnightly. That has been reduced to a wholly inadequate 10 sessions per year..so essentially someone with a mental health illness and no money to pay, after 10 weeks of therapy has to keep those difficulties on hold until the next year or if in a crisis MIGHT get to see a someone for some brief “first aid” from the local mental health team for a few visits. None of this is conducive to helping them to resolve their underlying issues.
4 million Australians with some mental health…?! OMG, I think they’re doing much better in North Korea
I do appreciate that the number seems incredible but teachers I know talk of rising levels of mental illness in the schools that they teach at. They identify social media, marriage breakdown, traditional issues with self esteem and bully, concern about the future, lack of money at home, student doubt about their future job prospects.
Add to that a rising rural male suicide rate – lack of job opportunities, low wages, lack of affordability of decent cars and of course the most recent drought.
We can also add into mix a paralysis of our political system to develop policies for the future. Australia once had a Minister for the Future but that was considered unnecessary in a free market environment. And isn’t the free market doing really well.
You sound as if you have been fortunate not to have yet experienced it. As a young man I was like you however you or someone you love will experience this within your lifetime and it is crucial that there is support and understanding given to the sufferer. With love, support and time, most us move on to happy and productive lives again.
Show more replies
we’re in the middle of a mass extinction
I think the pressure they have put on the vulnerable with the centerlink nightmare they put people through needs to be looked at. There needs to be an inquiry in to the proportion of Morrisons centerlink customers in the stats. He has pushed them in to crisis.
I totally agree, but would add that the current management style of constantly pushing to produce more with less resources is also a big contributor. Witness the crisis with well-paid judges.
Sound like another Liberal Party attempt to make the lives of those living with significant life challenges significantly more challenging.
2 days ago
“extract better value”
The Liberals just don’t get it – public health is not about efficiency it’s about outcomes!
They have been cutting back services for years, especially those providing bi-weekly consultations which some people need who are on the edge of being institutionalised which is the last resort of course.
Many also end up in jail where they become a criminal statistic rather than reflecting failure in our health system.
Labor has also failed over the years, but it takes conservative ideology’s “your life, your problem” to justify not increasing fund8ng.
Perhaps it’s time to have a Royal Commission into private health care.
Seems we pay thousands a year for very little return. If people weren’t always vastly out of pocket when they needed to claim, then we would use it when we felt we needed it.
We need to stop for-profit private health where taxpayer dollars flows to shareholders. Pity conservatives see nothing wrong with that.
ummm… You do understand the pressure PHC takes off the public purse? Oh Really
Its wonderful concept – when a society profits from people’s illness.
I think we need a royal commission into the actions of the government, look no further.
It is probably no coincidence that suicides have peaked, and are the highest in 10 years. 10 years ago, the GFC was upon us, and no doubt contributed to suicides for people who could see no way out of their financial crisis. Now, after 10 years of no political leadership, as most sink deeper into debt, people are despairing that they will ever get ahead, or indeed survive in this leaderless and drifting society that is Australia. In other words, when there is no hope, there is no life, and no amount of maunderings by the Productivity Commission, or having buckets of money thrown at the problem by an increasingly inept and useless LNP COALition government will solve the problem.
the energy cop
Yet this same government won’t do anything about the mental health of the detainees on Nauru.
Doesn’t the increase in the number of suicides correlate to the increase of socio economic pressure placed on people having to provide for their families and themselves. And why has there been an increase in deaths since 2014. Lets hope this productivity commission investigation isn’t an excuse to cut funding as all ipa/ lnp lead investigations end up doing.
McGorry is right. Mental health represents 13% of our disease burden but receives 7% of health funding.
As a public sector Psychiatrist, I look forward to the forthcoming examination of ‘value for money’ in cancer care, and federal politics. Oh, wait…
Trouble with assessing politicians’ value is they insist on self-assessment…
Perhaps more than 6 sessions would have a great effect on sufferers. I don’t know how Psychiatrists and Physiologists can be expected to help people in such a short window.
That is a big part of the issue is people accessing affordable and good mental health services. Even an extended Mental Health Care plan only gives you 10 subsidies visits a year. My son goes fortnightly at a cost of $200 a visit. The subsidy is only $82 a visit. This will be coming out for my pocket for many, many years to come as it helps keep him at school and hopefully in work when the time comes. We also have doctors visits and meds it all adds up. I’m just glad we can afford it but many can’t. Affordable front line services in mental health is needed.
Bullying is the number one cause of mental illness but everything possible is done by the government to fight victims who it. See WorkCover’s disgraceful record.
I don’t think it is just about bullying, it’s far more complex than that.
Frightening story hidden in latest suicide statistics
By Jo Robinson & Patrick McGorry
8 October 2018 — 5:34pm
This weekend the government announced there will be an investigation by the Productivity Commission into mental health spending, following publication of the latest suicide data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This showed that in 2017, 3128 Australians ended their own lives, a 9 per cent increase on the previous year.
This needless loss of life is devastating, but buried among the data is an even more frightening figure: the number of suicides of women of aged under 25 has increased by 76 per cent over the past 10 years.
For decades now suicide has been characterised as a problem affecting middle-aged men; and while the greatest number of suicide deaths occur among this sector of the population, the largest increases in suicide rates are among our young people.
The reasons for this are likely to be complex and multiple. What is most concerning about the increase in suicide among young women is that this group is also the most likely to engage in help-seeking behaviours.
It’s not that these women at risk of suicide aren’t asking for help. They are. It’s that when they ask for help they are met with a health care system that is ill-equipped to meet demand, they receive inadequate care or health services workers are unfamiliar with how to respond to a young person in the midst of a mental health emergency.
Young women are more likely to present to the emergency department for self-harm and they are also more likely to be hospitalised for self-harm (rates of suicide are elevated among those with a previous history of self-harm). However the response when they get to hospital is often inadequate and stigmatising. One young woman told us that the treatment she received from the doctor was “the worst part of self-harm”; others have said they would turn to their friends for help rather than suffer the “judgement and lack of sympathy” provided by hospital services.
Both emergency presentations and hospital admissions for self-harm are increasing, yet the days and weeks following rejection at an emergency department or discharge from an acute psychiatric service is the period of highest risk for suicide. Here we have a population who are seeking help, who are displaying all the signs of being at risk of suicide, and yet are not receiving adequate care.
The solution lies in an integrated, responsive and effective system of care. Modelling studies demonstrate that a combination of adequate care following presentation to psychiatric services, assertive after-care after a suicide attempt and improved community support for people experiencing distress could avert about 37 per cent of suicides over a 10-year period.
But there remains significant under-investment in the mental health system. We cannot expect to save lives if people who need help are being turned away from specialist care. The public, emergency physicians and mental health professionals all agree that emergency departments are inappropriate venues for mentally ill and distressed people. However, there are simply no other accessible options. Headspace has a key role to play but needs to be brought to scale so that it can meet the needs of all young people, including those with more acute and complex needs.
The rising rates of self-harm and hospital presentation, together with the ABS data, tell a clear story of severe and increasing need among our young people. There is an urgent imperative to invest in youth suicide prevention where it is likely to have greatest impact – in our service system. If we can construct a system that can respond to young people at risk, when and where they need support – be that in the community, in primary or emergency care, or within tertiary services – we will undoubtedly be better placed to reverse the devastating trend we have seen over this past 10 years.
Dr Jo Robinson is the head of suicide prevention research and Professor Patrick McGorry is the executive director of Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.
Blog – The “sage on the stage”
InfinityLab enables the “sage on the stage” to, simultaneously share wisdom while embracing fresh ideas and ways of thinking.
He was used to being the “sage on the stage.” But as a newbie in the tech sector, he was often the oldest person in the room, learning from colleagues who were young enough to be his children.
In a new book, “Wisdom at Work,” Mr. Conley writes that everyone working past middle age today needs to become a modern elder, simultaneously sharing wisdom while embracing fresh ideas and ways of thinking.
Dec 4 2018 – The New 50s: Far From Retirement
At 52, Chip Conley took on a new job at Airbnb, toggling between being a mentor and an intern in a role that he described as “modern elder.”
By Marci Alboher | Dec. 4, 2018
After Chip Conley sold Joie de Vivre, the boutique hotel company he created and ran for about 24 years, his life took an unexpected turn. At 52, he was sought out by Brian Chesky, the then-31-year-old chief executive of Airbnb, for advice on how to turn the fledgling home-sharing start-up into a major player in the hospitality field.
For the next four years, Mr. Conley worked at Airbnb, toggling between being a mentor and an intern in a sometimes baffling new role — a “modern elder,” as he put it. As a veteran hospitality executive, he was used to being the “sage on the stage.” But as a newbie in the tech sector, he was often the oldest person in the room, learning from colleagues who were young enough to be his children.
In a new book, “Wisdom at Work,” Mr. Conley writes that everyone working past middle age today needs to become a modern elder, simultaneously sharing wisdom while embracing fresh ideas and ways of thinking.
I think Mr. Conley’s on to something. It used to be, 50 was a time to begin thinking about retirement. But today, many people in their 50s — myself included — plan to work two or even three more decades. To become modern elders, we have to find new ways to stay relevant and keep our minds open, skills fresh and humility intact.
While I’m determined to become a modern elder, I know it won’t be easy. After all, most of us won’t be getting a phone call from a tech chief executive seeking our counsel. So I started looking for approachable role models I could learn from, and I found plenty.
Some did their homework and went back to school for jobs where there are known shortages — like nursing or teaching in STEM fields. Some found their way through volunteering or attending specialized fellowships or boot camps. Others teamed up with younger partners to lead new ventures. Most, it seems, did a combination of all these things.
Sharon Lewis, an independent consultant on consumer habits, was doing scouting work for the cultural forecasting firm sparks & honey when she heard about the company’s new cultural apprentice program. The apprenticeship was designed to bring together millennials and people with 30 years of professional experience to work on, among other things, a report on the future of work. Ms. Lewis decided to sign up for the 16-week program, which offered only a modest stipend, as a 60th birthday present to herself.
“The idea of working around so many younger people was exciting and invigorating,” she said. “I feel wiser, more well-rounded and updated, and I’m almost in withdrawal now,” she said. She especially appreciated the mutual mentoring. “We’re just not competing with one another because we’re at different life stages.”
Kevin Walker, 55, made several big changes after being laid off from a 24-year career in utilities in New York. He moved to Denver and started TurtleWise, a technology platform matching people seeking answers to life and career questions with mentors willing to provide advice.
Mr. Walker met Kevin Freund, 31, at a conference hosted by Mentor Colorado. The two are passionate about the role of mentors and brainstormed ways to build Mr. Walker’s company.
“Being around Kevin is analogous to the kind of mentoring we’re doing with the platform,” Mr. Freund said. “I get little bits of wisdom dripped on me.” Within six months of their first meeting, Mr. Walker asked Mr. Freund to join the company as chief operating officer.
Shortly after that, Mr. Walker had to return to a full-time job to bolster his finances so he turned over the daily management of the company to Mr. Freund. Mr. Walker says he is still totally committed to the ideals that led him to start the company and remains only a phone call or video chat away should his younger friend need his counsel.
But with two young children at home, Mr. Walker has turned the company into a “side hustle,” something he said he learned from millennials. The two stay in close touch now that Mr. Walker lives in Los Angeles and Mr. Freund is still in Denver.
Kimberly Strong, 52, kick-started a career pivot by giving back. After retiring as head of diversity and inclusion at Target in 2016, she wanted to become an angel investor, supporting women-led initiatives and serving as a mentor to younger women, especially women of color. She discovered Pipeline Angels, which offers boot camps for people interested in supporting ventures led by women and non-binary femmes, and she joined one of their cohorts this summer.
Ms. Strong says the program has provided speaking opportunities, judging roles at pitch summits, and the chance to hone her investing skills.
“My end game is to eventually be on a Fortune 1000 corporate board, and Pipeline gave me the opportunity to serve on start-up boards and gain experience,” she said. And she’s been able to mentor young female founders. “Basically, I’m the auntie to the start-ups,” she said, and the beneficiary of “reverse mentoring.”
Despite these promising stories, I hear a lot from people over 50, even over 45, who are doing all the right things but still not finding successful midlife transitions. Ageism is rampant — and internalized, with midlifers questioning our own ability to succeed in a world where youth is prized. And while there are many new offerings to help people make late-career transitions, moving into an encore career still requires an immense amount of creativity and persistence.
I have learned two things from my interviews about making these transitions easier. First, and most obviously, it helps to have a financial safety net. So volunteering or refreshing skills while still employed, collecting severance or a pension, or having a partner who provides an income or health insurance, all make a big difference. It is far more daunting without that kind of cushion.
Second, the attitudes of younger colleagues are just as important as our own when we think about finding new roles in a rapidly transforming workplace. Shortly after reading Mr. Conley’s book, I met Charlotte Japp, a 28-year-old with an infectious passion for bringing older and younger people together.
Ms. Japp was so desperate for older mentors in her first job at Vice Media that she started an intergenerational networking event series called Cirkel. “My colleagues and I had this joke about what would happen to us when we turned 34, because Vice’s target market was 18 to 34,” she told me, adding that “no one in the office, not even my bosses’ bosses, was over 40.”
This struck Ms. Japp in a personal way given that both of her parents lost their jobs when they were about 50. Her father’s experience as the sole breadwinner in the family at the time is particularly etched in her memory.
Over an extensive text strand, Ms. Japp explained the philosophy behind Cirkel. She told me there were many times she wanted advice on how to do something — from technical things like how to put a video treatment together, to “political maneuvering like how to confront a manager about a difficult situation with a colleague.” She just needed someone older and more experienced to ask.
The word Cirkel comes from the Swedish for circle. “I believe Sweden is the culture behind great design,” she said. “Instead of minimalist furniture, though, I’m using it to describe good design in the culture and society.”
Ms. Japp got right to the heart of one of the main points Mr. Conley makes in his book. At a time when we can Google the answer to just about anything, it’s important to remember that some things come only through lived experience. And there’s a certain magic when older and younger learn from, and with, each other.
Blog – In his new book “How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations”
In his new book “How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations” Marc Freedman, the founder and CEO of Encore nails the basis behind InfinityLab – that generations working together to create a better society is a foundation of our lives. A few of the quotes from his interview with Maya Salam of the NY Times (article link follows) :
Freedman notes that much of the concept of age segregation was invented with a profit motive in mind and out of a feeling that older people were superfluous. Entrepreneurs came in and realized there’s some money to be made here, and invented the idea of the golden years. It’s been described as a season in search of a purpose. And so we filled that gap with a lot of leisure activities and this frenzied pursuit of a second childhood.
When you look at what developmental research on happiness and purpose in later life shows, it fits together like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle.
I was interested in ways to find greater support for children who were growing up in poverty — and more and more research was showing that the presence of caring adults was the critical ingredient. It was almost out of an interest in matching supply and demand — untapped human resources and unmet human needs. This is about so much more than efficiency. Older people and younger people, there’s a connection there that goes beyond labor economics.
Dec 4 2018 – Bringing Older Americans Back Into the Fold
By Maya Salam
- Dec. 4, 2018
Marc Freedman is not here to give advice on how to squirrel away dollars and cents for a leisurely retirement. He doesn’t want to talk about 401(k)’s, I.R.A.s, or stocks and bonds. Instead, he is asking us all to dig deeper — to entirely rethink our latter years.
Mr. Freedman — the president and chief executive officer of Encore.org, a nonprofit group that aims to tap the skills and experience of people in midlife and beyond to improve communities — is the author of the recently released book “How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations.”
And he is on a mission to reintegrate older people into the lives of younger ones.
He helped create Experience Corps, one of America’s largest nonprofit service programs engaging people over 55. The program, he said, evolved from the Foster Grandparents program, which enables older people to tutor and mentor students.
In researching his new book, Mr. Freedman found himself focused on the now-entrenched reality of age segregation in the United States, and what can be done to bring older Americans back into the fold, especially as more people are living longer.
The following conversation has been edited and condensed.
What is age segregation and how did it become, in many ways, an American norm?
Much of that whole conception was invented with a profit motive in mind and out of a real feeling that older people were superfluous. And it was invented so recently, within the last half a century or so: the idea being that people are kind of drifting through this anteroom to the great beyond.
And these entrepreneurs came in and realized there’s some money to be made here, and they invented the idea of the golden years, that this should all be about leisure. Dying went from just a natural part of life into an incurable medical condition. That really contributed a lot to segregation, to developing all these institutions where the elderly became separated from society.
As this period in life has grown, we really haven’t had a culture of the institutions to deal with it. It’s been described as a season in search of a purpose. And so we filled that gap with a lot of leisure activities and this frenzied pursuit of a second childhood. But in fact it doesn’t fit with what we know developmentally; that this is perhaps not the most fulfilling approach to that period of life.
You wrote a lot about the idea of mutuality in your book, that older and younger people have a natural ability to help each other.
When you look at what developmental research on happiness and purpose in later life shows, it fits together like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. Older people who mentor and support young people are three times as likely to be happy as those who fail to do so.
Science is telling us that this is a natural process. And we thwarted it over the last century. Research on loneliness in a new study from Cigna and Ipsos shows that the two loneliest groups are younger people and older people. And it makes for a solution hidden in plain sight.
Why not create more opportunities for genuine relationships between younger people and older people that are mutual and that help people have a deeper sense of connection and reinstitute the cycle of life in the context of our longer lives?
Because as we get older, instead of trying to deny death or forestall it at any cost, shouldn’t we be recognizing that the true way to live on is not to try to be the next generation? It is to invest in younger people and live on through their lives and work and contribution.
Is independence overrated?
I think it is, and we approach it in such a stark way. You’re either independent or dependent. But in fact what we need is interdependence, and that’s so deeply embedded in human development.
We were social animals to begin with. You go back to the early days of human history, and anthropologists have shown that the critical ingredient in us developing the larger brains that set us apart was the role that grandparents played, particularly grandmothers, in nurturing children.
The only reason we survived as a species and developed in the way we did was because of our interdependence between the generations.
Alison Gopnik, who’s a psychologist at University of California, Berkeley, talks about older women as the key to human nature. And that’s an insight that’s worth hanging onto. That’s much more useful than the current glorification of independence.
How have your views on retirement changed over the years?
When I was younger, I was really interested in ways to find greater support for children who were growing up in poverty — and more and more research was showing that the presence of caring adults was the critical ingredient in helping so many young people navigate their way successfully to adulthood.
I became interested in older people as a way to solve human and social capital needs of the younger generation. It was almost out of an interest in matching supply and demand — untapped human resources and unmet human needs.
Over time, what I’ve become increasingly aware of is that this is about so much more than efficiency. Older people and younger people, there’s a connection there that goes beyond labor economics.
What can people do to prepare for post-retirement life, especially at different times in their lives?
First of all, re-evaluate their sense of time. This period, rather than being the leftover years, may be one of the sweet spots in life.
We’ve been in many ways told to prepare for a life that is three score and 10, but in fact there’s a good chance that people will remain healthy into their 80s, and in the future, into their 90s and beyond.
So this is a wonderful new time horizon that people have. You don’t have to do everything at once; you don’t have to cram everything in. What might feel like a sprint is really a long-distance race. There’s an opportunity to explore different routes.
The other realization is that the years that have been added to life that we keep hearing about have not been added at the end, they’re really being added to the middle or late middle — this period when we actually have learned a great deal and have the chance to do something with that.
Dec 3 2018 – Traditional MBA gets a competitor backed by Canva, SafetyCulture, Koala Mattress
By Michael Bailey | Updated 03 Dec 2018 — 9:45 AM,
The Master of Business Administration is not meeting the needs of fast-growing “scale-up” companies, so a group including Canva and SafetyCulture has backed a new fellowship where executives wanting to work for them will be taught on the job.
Eight fellowships will be offered in a program run by Startmate, the accelerator founded by Blackbird Ventures partner Niki Scevak, will be backed by scale-ups which have collectively raised $250 million in venture capital: Canva, the graphic design platform valued at $1.3 billion by a fundraising this year, SafetyCulture, Koala Mattress and Propeller Aero.
These “scale-ups” will fund the $50,000 value of each fellowship, which is being pitched at experienced middle managers, lawyers, investment bankers or management consultants who might otherwise consider studying for an MBA.
A one-month boot camp will be followed by three-month rotations through two of the businesses, with a job guaranteed inside one of them, or elsewhere in Startmate’s network, at the end.
“The autonomy, and the potential financial payoff from early employee shares, means a lot of people in corporates want to get into start-ups or scale-ups,” Startmate chief executive James Tynan told The Australian Financial Review.
“Traditionally, one of the best ways to de-risk a transition between industries was to do an MBA, and that’s still the right fit if you’re pivoting from, say, resources to investment banking. But MBAs don’t provide the skills you need in what can be a crazy world inside start-ups.”
The likes of Melbourne Business School have responded to a more dynamic environment by halving the traditional two-year length of an MBA.
However, Koala Mattress co-founder Danny Milham said time studying theory still equated to time spent on the sidelines.
“By the time many skills find their way into a classroom they’re out of date,” the Young Rich Lister said.
“The only way to truly ’10x’ your abilities is to learn by doing in companies where new skills are being invented.”
The first Startmate fellowships would focus on producing “growth marketers”, Mr Tynan said, a role at the nexus of conventional product management and marketing.
Koala Mattress had pioneered a new approach to the discipline under marketing chief (and Startmate mentor) Tim Doyle, spoofing Clive Palmer and Ikea billboards and running elevator ads tailored to the tenants of each building in which they appeared, in a bid to keep margins otherwise ceded to Facebook and Google by online advertising.
However, Mr Tynan said such skills were rare locally.
“Australia has no tradition in creating these kind of people, because almost all of them have grown up inside one of the Silicon Valley giants,” he said.
One-third of new hires at SafetyCulture in the past year had come directly from overseas, founder Luke Anear told the Financial Review, because apart from Atlassian there were few local pools of people experienced in building the kind of billion-dollar business he aspires to run. (The workplace safety scale-up was valued at $440 million by a May fundraising.)
Mr Anear welcomed the “apprenticeship style” of the Startmate fellowships.
“Classroom learning is like training in a pool for a running race,” he said.
Corporate employees who aspired to work in scale-ups had to reduce any reliance they had built up on structure and hierarchy, he said.
“People talk about not wanting decisions to take a long time, but often when it’s their decision they’re reluctant to make it. We’ll be empowering the people who come here on the fellowship to break through that.”
Mr Anear recounted starting an internet-of-things team in March, giving them a one-line brief to find sensors so that customers of SafetyCulture’s app could monitor their fridge temperatures.
“These two young guys picked that project up – one had been building wave-monitoring sensors for the pro surfing tour, one had a couple of years in Deloitte – and here it is December and they’ve turned it into a whole new side of the business,” he said.
The speed was such that pilots were turning into deployments and SafetyCulture hadn’t figured out terms and conditions, or what it was going to charge for the sensors.
“But they knew that traction was the important thing, and figuring out the details was the easy part. Disruption doesn’t happen from innovation, it only happens when customers adopt what you’ve innovated.”
Applications for the Startmate fellowships open this week and begin in March 2019. Mr Tynan hoped the diversity of candidates would be enhanced by use of a blinded, resume-free application process called Applied. Potential applicants can send questions to email@example.com.
Australia’s employment landscape is changing, the gig economy is taking hold
By Anthill Magazine -Nov 9, 2018 0
For many of us, the term ‘gig economy’ is synonymous with Uber drivers and Foodora clad cyclists. However, the independent contractor trend is now disrupting the HR and recruitment sectors, as leading global businesses take advantage of gig economy workers to meet the changing needs of their business.
Research from the Oxford Internet Institute has found projects sourced by Fortune 500 companies through online freelancing platforms grew 26 per cent between 2016 and 2017. While Australian businesses are not engaging gig workers at the same rate as those in the US and Europe – where 20 to 30 per cent of the working-age population are engaged in some form of independent work – it is only a matter of time before it becomes more prevalent in the Australian employment landscape.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 2.5 million Australians are currently employed on a casual basis, reinforcing experts’ beliefs that this is not a passing fad but a global trend that is set to redefine the workforce.
What is driving this global trend?
Today’s modern workforce is ingrained with a different mindset, focusing more on experiences and flexibility than stability. Gig economy workers are often young people who place less emphasis on the cultural cache of a long-term career. However, gig workers could include anyone, such as professionals who have recently retired but still want to make a contribution or parents who want a more flexible working week.
For businesses, on the other hand, the hiring of short-term roles is a trend heavily driven by specialisation. Companies today are demanding more niche and specialist skills. But, employing multitudes of specialists on a full-time basis isn’t a viable business solution for most. Now, technology has made it more accessible than ever to directly connect businesses with experts to help plug skills gaps within their organisation on-demand.
As a result, what we’re seeing is more businesses leveraging this new flexibility in the workforce to become increasingly agile, adjust the size of their workforce to suit demand, and to reinvigorate themselves with new skills and experience.
The gig economy as a solution for traditional businesses
For businesses, one of the opportunities the gig economy presents is the ability to quickly scale up a workforce to tackle a project, which could require specialised skills that are not needed in the day-to-day running of the business.
This provides an incredible advantage for employers, allowing them to become more agile, adjusting the size of their workforce to suit demand and reinvigorate themselves with new skills and experience.
Gig economy workers often have a unique skill set that lends itself to project work. For businesses, these workers can include designers, programmers, content writers, developers, as well as a number of other roles. It’s important to remember, gig economy workers are not just covering junior roles but there is a growing trend for executive-level employees to be part of the new gig-based workforce. More and more, businesses are turning to COOs, CFOs, and CTOs on a short-term basis, absorbing their expertise and wisdom before moving on, creating an ‘interim executive solution’.
As such, gig economy workers provide a unique resource to supplement a permanent workforce. They can help address a business’ skills gap or labour shortage cost-effectively, as and when the business needs it. Once the work is complete, the gig economy worker will move on, removing the overhead entirely for the business.
How to adapt your business to the gig economy
Before diving headfirst into hiring independent contractors, it is essential that companies analyse how much that labour would cost in-house before they go ahead and hire gig economy workers, to ensure it is the best way to achieve their goals. Some businesses may be better off with permanent employees who have a stronger allegiance to the company and understanding of its culture, even if the process of bringing them onboard is more time-consuming.
Employers also need to be aware that a high turnover of gig economy workers could mean they do not have an accurate understanding of project costs until it is too late. Just as a high turnover of permanent staff can be expensive, if you do not have an efficient way to keep track of gig economy workers and their payments, payroll and administration, costs could balloon.
Businesses looking to adopt gig workers into their workforce need to tread carefully when it comes to industrial relations laws in Australia – most notably the Independent Contractors Act 2006 and the Fair Work Act 2009. To help businesses understand the differences between employees and contractors, the Australian Taxation Office provides some useful information on the differences between employees and contractors.
It is important that Australian businesses looking to take advantage of the gig economy ensure HR and payroll are well prepared to manage this part of the workforce. This means giving them the time and resources required to manage this frequently changing employee base. It means understanding the regulations in your market and how this will impact the way in which you hire gig workers. It means having the technology to correctly track and pay gig workers.
This preparation takes time and some experimentation, even though traditional, highly-critical HR tasks never take a back seat. It is critical businesses find a partner to help them succeed in this new world of work. One that understands the local market and the changing regulatory landscape, as well as what is required to support a workforce supplemented by gig workers.
Inna Wahlberg is the General Manager at Ascender Asia & Middle East
Innovationaus offers perspectives on innovation in corporations in an article titled Credibility, Impact and Influence published on 4 July 4, 2018 and written by David McClure
In the article executives suggest that in the fast moving game of digital transformation, care needs to be taken with how traditional IT teams react with innovation leaders. The gist of the article is that tradtitonal IT sits separately.
“Does that model bear merit? Or are we simply de-aggregating and functionalising because we don’t know what to do otherwise?” asks Mr Le Busque, who led the discussion.
Participants in the roundtable discussion employed a wide range of strategies to manage the tensions between operational IT and innovation. The discussion has been captured in a Verizon paper titled Credibility, Impact and Influence in 2018.
Elmar Platzer, CSR’s Digital Transformation Leader reckons there is merit in having a two-speed business, where one side goes nimble and the other side provides stability.
“Personally, I think there is a lot of merit of having two modes of operation. One that is extremely nimble and is not hamstrung by bureaucracy and red tape and therefore is able to experiment with new tools, methods and structures,” says Mr Platzer.
The other operational mode provides a counterweight of stability and innovates incrementally. It adopts new tools and work methods that have been successfully tested.
Tolerance of honest failure and a willingness to adapt quickly are key for tech leaders managing this process.
“Some ideas will work and some won’t and it’s important to be able to keep a very open mind and to foster a culture with a curious mind, willing to iterate and if necessary pivot on everything, including technology, methodologies and organisational structure,” says Mr Platzer.
Kathleen Mackay, who is Head of Digital Delivery at Boral agrees.
“It is tricky and the most appropriate roles and structures will evolve as your capabilities in innovation, design and delivery improve,” Ms Mackay says.
Craig Said who is Head of Network Services for Big Four bank CBA believes the operational and innovation sides of tech probably work better as a single team where the operational piece can directly help the frenetic pace required of the innovation side.
“I think it depends on the size of the organization but if I just take CBA as an example, our digital group is separate from technology and one of the real problems we have is we don’t have enough infrastructure capacity to support the digital team, who have a weekly release cycle,” he says.
“I think on balance, conjoined teams probably work better because everyone gets an understanding of the total ecosystem,” he says.
Fellow Big Four banker Robert Wilson who is the CTO at Westpac warns of developing ‘loudest voice in the room’ syndrome when it comes to digital innovation.
“You’ve got technology, then you’ve got the customer and then in the middle you’ve got transformation and digital innovation. It’s almost ‘which is the loudest voice in the room?’ that gets to own or at least get a stranglehold on that digital piece of the customer side,” he says.
Mr Wilson often observes businesses struggling with this issue and counsels against over-reaction.
He says businesses can end up believing that digital types can fix everything and will go into a hire and fire cycle to get in a bunch of digital demigods.
“What is a digital person? What is the talent capability they’re going to bring to the firm? I think it is that paradox and to me what we’re saying is it almost use the loudest voice, which is not a great way to run the organization,” says Mr Wilson.
At the end of the day, disruption comes from losing revenue, not the latest, fancy tech.
“It’s not the technology that’s really disrupting you, it’s the fact that your customers have decided to spend their money somewhere else.
“That’s the ultimate thing that’s disrupting your business model. Really thinking meaningfully and deliberately about the impact that technology has on the customer experience, because it is whether the customer decides to continue spending with you or not that should determine the success or failure of any project,” says Mr Wilson.
Katherine Squire who is General Manager SEO Software Engineering at NBN Co tends to the customer-centric view and warns against getting too hung up on producing fancy digital features.
“Obviously the whole piece behind pure transformation is getting that sort of closeness, but I think also sometimes it can be used as a “let’s keep building features” routine. You’re not responding to the customer … so I think sometimes the KPIs and organizational purpose need to make sure that you’re building for the customer in a sustainable, strategic way.”
Tech leaders also need to keep a weather eye on the mid-term horizon.
“You also need to be an advocate for technology so that it will be there in five years’ time. It might be different because you’ve built a team that can change as technologies change, but if you’re constantly with the next latest feature request or whatever it is that’s coming down the pipe, because we love our customer, we also need to love them in five years’ time.”
In the swirl of action that surrounds most technology projects, Verizon’s Rob Le Busque argues there needs to be a customer advocate in the mix.
“There’s a role for someone that sits outside of technology and innovation that represents the voice of the customer, the view of the customer. I do wonder where is that third leg to the chair that truly assesses it without any agenda to understand what the customer is really going to think about this. Someone looking at it from the outside in,” says Mr Le Busque.
Checking back into the real world by doing proof of concept work with the customer is a strategy for keeping big projects on target with customer expectations, says David Williams, who is the General Manager of eCommerce and ERP Delivery at Metcash.
“A lot of technology I find gets too big before it actually gets launched. It’s too big and too hard. Which ends up in a disaster at the end because you’ve missed the point of customer experience,” says Mr Williams.
“What can you get in front of a customer in three months? It’ll be rough and ready … but what can you get out real early and say does this work?
“I think that learning is critical and that if you don’t get out early, you miss that opportunity of really going in,” says Mr Williams.
Finding common pain points during project development helps ensure a happy ending for customers, says Sonia Swansborough, Director Know How at Sparke Helmore Lawyers.
“In our space we find that working on shared process mapping with our clients and focussing on the overall customer experience is something that has had the most traction.
“We’ve identified the common pain points and then we’ve been able to go into a collaborative design cycle but with a shared understanding of where our pain points actually are,” says Ms Swansborough.
Digital transformation of work processes is all very well, but if the customer is not buying in and using the new tools, then you are wasting effort.
“Lawyers and many professions are very good at what they do and they’ve perfected that, so you’re coming in and tipping all of that on his head and you have to be able to prove that it’s really going to make a difference to their day – before they’ll adopt it of course,” says Ms Swansborough.
Verizon Enterprise Solutions partnered with InnovationAus.com to produce the Credibility, Impact and Influence 2018 discussion paper.
The plastic bag ban is only the beginning
Charis Chang@CharisChang2 | news.com.au | December 29, 20188:47pm
This was the year Australia banned single-use plastic bags — and lost its mind. But it turns out the bag ban is only the beginning.
Six months ago it didn’t seem possible that Australians would ever give up the convenience of single-use plastic shopping bags.
But watching shoppers pack up their groceries at a nearby Woolworths Metro, it’s clear that the bag ban has worked.
During the busy lunchtime rush this month, there are definitely some people still buying the thicker 15c bags available at the checkout but most people either had their own bags or were choosing to carry their groceries without a bag.
One woman who was juggling a tub of yoghurt, carton of mini-cucumbers and a salad, told news.com.au that she would definitely have taken one of the old grey bags before but didn’t want to pay for one to transport her lunch back to work.
Even though she said she often forgot to bring her own bags, at least a third of her fellow shoppers had remembered to bring one. Only a handful of the approximately 50 shoppers bought the 15c bags. Other shoppers also improvised and were seen tucking lemons into handbags and microwave meals into backpacks.
While the major retailers won’t reveal how many of the thicker 15c bags they were now selling, this month Coles and Woolworths revealed their bag ban had stopped 1.5 billion thinner plastic bags being dumped into the environment.
A news.com.au Facebook poll also indicated most people were remembering to bring their own reusable bags.
One shopper, Romina, said she mostly used reusable bags now for her shopping.
“I know it’s a good cause so it’s fine,” she said.
Tim Silverwood, co-founder of Take 3, told news.com.au that anecdotal evidence suggested there were less of the thinner bags making their way to Australia’s waterways.
“During our clean-up activities in NSW and Queensland there’s definitely less thin grey shopping bags, according to our volunteers,” Mr Silverwood said.
“I think we are all starting to realise now that it doesn’t take that much change to make a big difference.”
He said the success of the bag ban was a great opportunity to take the war against plastic to the next level.
This includes passing legislation in NSW to ban bags as well, reduce the use of the thicker bags and to follow the example of the European Union, which has plans to phase out or reduce 10 types of single-use plastic items.
The National Waste Report 2018 released in November showed that just 12 per cent of plastic in Australia was recycled. About 87 per cent was sent to landfill.
Each state and territory approaches waste and recycling differently. There are container deposit schemes in all states except Tasmania and Victoria but only ACT, South Australia and Victoria have a landfill ban.
NSW is the only state or territory not planning to introduce a plastic bag ban. In NSW, Woolworths and Coles have voluntarily phased out the bags but Jeff Angel of the Boomerang Alliance said a ban was still needed because a lot of smaller stores like chemists and food outlets continued to give out the lightweight bags.
Mr Angel wants the supermarket giants to reveal how many of the thicker 15c bags were being used as there was anecdotal evidence they were also ending up in the litter stream and landfill.
The thicker bags are 55 microns thick instead of 35 microns so there is more plastic in them.
Western Australia’s environment minister Stephen Dawson recently revealed his intent to target the use of thicker bags — the type that Myer uses for example — as the next step.
“I think it would be a gradual phase-out, just as we’ve done with say microbeads,” Mr Dawson said.
There are also many other forms of plastic that could be tackled and Australia is already behind in this area.
EUROPE BANS PLASTIC
The European Commission has moved to ban or reduce 10 types of single-use plastics by 2030.
If approved, littering by these items will be reduced by more than half, avoiding environmental damage which would otherwise cost €22 billion ($A34 billion). It will also avoid the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030.
These products are the top 10 most found single-use items on European beaches and make up 43 per cent of total marine litter.
The items that will be targeted include food containers, cups for beverages, cotton buds, cutlery/plates/stirrers/straws, sticks for balloons/balloons, packets and wrappers, beverage bottles, tobacco product filters and sanitary towels/wet wipes among European Union countries.
Items like cotton buds made with plastic would be replaced by sustainable alternatives while there will be an attempt to reduce the consumption of things like food containers.
The commission will also tackle fishing gear, which makes up an extra 27 per cent of marine litter.
European Union countries have recognised the damaging impact plastics can have and the costs of cleaning litter up as well as the losses for tourism, fisheries and shipping.
Due to its slow decomposition, plastic accumulates in seas, oceans and on beaches. Plastic residues have been found in sea turtles, seals, whales and birds, but also in fish and shellfish, meaning humans could also be consuming them. There are estimates that mussel-loving Europeans could be consuming up to 11,000 microplastics in a year.
Mr Silverwood said the 10 items being banned in Europe were also regularly found during clean-up activities in Australia, although the container deposit scheme was helping to reduce the number of beverage containers.
More than one billion containers have already been collected in NSW in the first year of operation of the scheme.
Cotton buds could be the next items to be banned.
Cotton buds could be the next items to be banned.Source:News Limited
He said Australia should introduce measures similar to the European Union, to tackle other types of single-use plastics.
“We’ve got a problem with things like straws and coffee cups,” he said. “I would like to see much more action at state and commonwealth level.
“We’ve shown that as a nation, we can adapt and we have to. We already have eight million tonnes of plastic go into the ocean every year and that will continue if we can’t get rid of single-use plastic items.”
Many Australians are already shunning things like straws and coffee cups and Mr Silverwood said this sent a strong message to businesses and politicians that Australians want to see less single-use items.