Searchshow menu

Case study: Targeting managers to Mind their People at the Australian Taxation Office

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is a large organisation of almost 24 000 employees who are spread across a variety of locations around the country. The diversity and significant size of the organisation means that national programs have to be delivered effectively to the right people in order to achieve the best results. The ‘Mind Our People’ program is an example of a program that continues to be successful at this.

‘Mind Our People’ is a national manager education program which was developed in 2008 in partnership with the ATO’s Employee Assistance Provider. It was developed as a key part of the ATO’s psychological initiative, known as ‘Mind the Mind’. This initiative recognises the direct and indirect costs to business of psychological injury and the many benefits of good psychological wellbeing in the workplace. The major focus was to build a more supportive workplace. Creating a supportive workplace has benefits for everyone at work, particularly those experiencing mental ill health. ‘Mind Our People’ was the final program to be delivered to staff as part of the ‘Mind the Mind’ initiative.

The target of the ‘Mind Our People’ program is managers—the linchpins to healthy and supportive work teams. The program aims to provide managers with the skills and confidence they need to recognise signs and symptoms of mental ill health. Recognising and responding to these early warning signs in a timely way means that appropriate steps can be taken to help the employee. The program also aims to help build a supportive work team that facilitates wellbeing, particularly for managers who are leading teams through periods of change.

Managers attend two one-day training sessions separated by approximately two weeks. The training is separated by two weeks so that managers can complete inter-workshop activities. The training sessions are co-facilitated by Learning and Development staff and subject matter experts. Managers receive a workbook that provides a range of content, tools and resources which can be kept for later reference.

‘Mind Our People’ is complemented by a number of other initiatives and manager support tools and programs that include the ‘Keeping in Touch’ program (a corporate program for managers that encourages positive and supportive communication between managers and staff when staff are at work or returning to work from leave), wellbeing activities and library resources. The program has been regularly reviewed and updated to ensure it remains relevant.

The outcomes of ‘Mind Our People’ are very positive. To date, the program has equipped 4000 managers with a core set of skills which gives them the confidence to take early action to support individual team members and improve the supportive nature of the workplace. The ATO believes that this training provides the organisation with a significant opportunity to reduce the overall cost of psychological injury.

Preventing harm and promoting health in the workplace by targeting managers is something that would benefit many other organisations.

Page last updated: 20 Mar 2014