Supporting people through difficult times

Supporting people through difficult times
Issues in people’s private lives can affect their experiences at work. Cbus' initiatives focus on identifying ways to support people when they're going through difficult times.

About the initiatives

Cbus is a superannuation fund for the building and construction industries. Its employees are mainly senior technical professionals.

In supporting a mentally healthy workplace, Cbus recognises that situations occurring in people’s private lives can impact on their experience at work. Its focus has been on identifying ways to support people and help them to be productive at work when they are going through difficult times.

Cbus sees physical health as a critical contributor to mental health and runs numerous workplace initiatives that promote overall health and wellbeing. The initiatives include:

  • the Health at Work Program, now in its third year. Activities include providing fresh fruit for employees, free health checks, skin checks, flu vaccinations, and regular health seminars (topics include healthy eating, cooking and stress management)
  • an Employee Assistance Program
  • monitoring of staff wellbeing, leave and workload through formal and informal meetings between managers, team members and human resources personnel
  • monitoring of staff working excessive hours via checks on out-of-hours access to workplaces (i.e. on weekends and weekday evenings)
  • promotion of communication among managers and team members via the performance management system and quarterly morning tea gatherings with the CEO
  • regular ergonomic assessments of work stations
  • attention to the work environment, employee comfort and amenities (e.g. provision of ergonomic chairs, quiet rooms, a wellness room, lounge areas, a well-equipped kitchen)
  • an annual month-long pedometer challenge where staff form teams and compete for prizes by tracking their steps each day
  • the establishment of a culture committee
  • generous carers' leave and personal leave entitlements, salary continuous insurance, capacity to ‘purchase’ leave and flexible work arrangements (such as working from home)
  • supporting the national SuperFriend foundation
  • participation in R U OK Day.


How the initiatives came about

Mental health and wellbeing initiatives at Cbus are primarily managed by the human resources department. Representatives from across the organisation make up the culture committee, which meets regularly to share and disseminate findings from the Great Place to Work Survey, monitor and gauge the wellbeing of teams across the organisation, raise team issues and discuss ways to improve systems and processes.

Benefits and outcomes

Cbus has participated in the Great Place to Work Survey for the last two years. The engagement score has increased from 83 (June 2012) to 88 (June 2013). Survey findings show that executives and managers are seen as being approachable. Cbus has found that increased staff engagement translates to increased productivity.

Where Cbus staff access the Employee Assistance Program, details are not provided back to Cbus unless it relates to bullying (which, at the time of writing, has not occurred). All employee access to date has been for the purpose of dealing with personal rather than work issues, which may be due the fact that the workforce is more mature and are more likely to experience major life changes.

Recommendations, considerations and lessons learned

Challenge: A holistic approach


  • Acknowledge the role and influence of physical health on mental health

Challenge: Acknowledging workloads


  • If workload cannot be reduced, there is executive acknowledgement of the situation

Challenge: Considering different work styles and preferences


  • Implement a range of initiatives to accommodate different needs and preferences

Challenge: Logistical limitations


  • Focus on initiatives that are feasible based on available financial resources
  • Focus on initiatives that are feasible for the organisation given its size and limited ability to instigate major programs
  • Focus on initiatives that are suitable for the workplace given the space available
  • Recognise that even small gestures can have a positive impact on staff (such as providing fresh fruit and occasional cupcakes at morning teas) 

Challenge: Ensuring participation of part-time staff


  • Where possible, schedule meetings and activities to accommodate the 20 per cent of staff who work part time

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