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Happy Workplaces makes Happy and Healthy Communities


A 96% staff satisfaction was what greeted an elated CEO in the most recent staff satisfaction survey conducted by the Healthy Communities Foundation Australia (the Foundation).


The Foundation was established as a charity to help rural, remote, Aboriginal & other disadvantaged groups to shape the provision of health and social care for their own communities.


"To be able to serve rural, remote and Aboriginal people effectively" said Burdack "the Foundation needed to attract and employ the best rural, remote and Aboriginal minds in health and social care to help us to understand the lived experience of rural and remote health, and share with us their expertise about what programs will work (and what won’t).


The need to rethink workforce recruitment and retention comes as data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that11.5% of health sector sector employee have left the industry (Feb 2023). According to the Australian Financial Review, NSW Health alone lost 12.6% of its nursing workforce in 2021-22.


"We cannot escape the reality that the sector is bleeding doctors, nurses and other health professionals. It is very clear that many health professionals are not happy.


"Its beholden on the sector to change how we engage with staff if we are to stop the rot. We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. As a sector, we need to change" said Mr Burdack.


The growing national health workforce crisis led the Foundation on a journey to discover what makes employees happy. A 2023 Ispos Survey found that having a job ranked 15th out of 30 possible factors that influence our happiness.


"What interested me about this research" said Mr Burdack "was that employment was not at the top of the list of things that make us happy, despite the fact that we spend the majority of our waking hours during the week at work.


"The top of the list is 'feeling my life has meaning'.


"The reality is that having a job is a means to achieve our goal of happiness, it is not an end in itself.


"In fact, work can have a negative impact on our happiness for example by causing stress.


"The Foundation focussed on making sure the work we do has meaning for people, which meant we had to listen to people and engage people to pursue their passions.


"Health is a vocation and attracts people who gain satisfaction in their lives from helping others. Nurturing this driver not only serves our communities, it makes our staff happy.


"What this meant for the Foundation is that in order to attract the best minds to the challenges of rural and remote health, we needed to think differently about what we offer.


"At work, staff need to be fairly remunerated but they also need to be engaged in meaningful work that utilitises their skills and knowledge.


"We needed a flexibility framework that maximises the opportunity for staff to better balance work and life as much as possible.


"In short, we had to throw out the rule-book and come up with our own. The response has been amazing with a 96% staff satisfaction rate" said Mr Burdack.


The Employee Survey aims to help the Board, and management, of the Foundation ensure that we are doing the right things by our staff. The Foundation believes that our staff are our most important asset because they bring valuable skills and experience, and are members of our community.


For more go to Happiness.

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