Mrs. Bavaneesha Nieuwoudt (USA)

Name
Mrs. Bavaneesha Nieuwoudt

Degree
Bachelor of Social Science – Law and Industrial Psychology

Company
Workplace Options

Presentation Title
Tackling Work Related Stress and Remaining Resilient in a Digitally Connected World

Content Focus Area
Individual Level
Mental Illness

Biographical information related to the topic
Over the last 13 years I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in the EAP industry, working for Workplace Options (WPO). WPO is one of the global market leaders, serving more than 58 million employees in over 90,000 organizations across more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

My experience is complimented by a Bachelor of Social Science Degree in Law & Industrial Psychology.

The experience and knowledge I have gained in the emotional and mental health industry over the years at WPO, was gained in various roles within the company. This included participating in client relationship management and sales, implementing EAP services globally, attending global conferences, interacting with global clients addressing challenges onsite, adds a competitive edge to my experience. The lessons learnt and the knowledge gained is certainly not that of a textbook in fact some of it is contrary to the information communicated in text books.

Although WPO is a recognized and highly respected global player in the industry, its presence in Africa is developing. Being strategically based in South Africa and having been appointed to implement new EAP partners and programmes and training and consultancy services in Africa, I am well positioned to understand and address the specific needs of a client base in Africa.

Based on the above experience, one of the key topics that cuts across all the identified needs of global clients is Tackling Work Related Stress and Remaining Resilient in a Digitally Connected World. Due to the increased use of technology there is tremendous pressure to respond to business enquiries and be available at all hours. As a result, the ability of an individual to ‘switch off’ and create work-life balance is compromised. This adds to ones level of stress .Being a mother of a 2 year toddler, and having to work around the clock to accommodate global clients, has provided me with first-hand experience and knowledge of dealing with this dilemma that we face in this technological environment.

Abstract
The modern working world is driven by rapid advancement in technological growth and the way we communicate in this digital world has transformed working behaviours, compelling workers to be plugged in 24/7 and having a direct correlation with stress, anxiety and burnout. As occupational health professionals in this fast paced and demanding world, it can be difficult to know how best to grapple with the opportunity provided by operating in a constantly connected world and the consequential impact on employee mental health due to the rise of unhealthy working patterns, increased levels of stress and subsequent increases in absenteeism, presenteeism and reduced productivity.

It is without questions that the benefits provided by the digital revolution are immense and allow organisations to provide an increased range of flexible working options to their people. Yet the working behaviours that have consequently evolved have become highly invasive, leading to email addiction and intensifying working lives.

Many believe the secret is to give employees permission to disconnect. In recent years, organisations such as Porsche, Daimler and Volkswagen have taken decisive steps to change internal processes and ban out of hours work activity, enabling their employees to fully enjoy their recovery time and prevent signs of overwork and burnout.

Yet is this the answer? In this digitally advanced, globalised world, is it feasible to be banning out of hours work and try to make a clear distinction between work and home? Or is it more progressive to equip employees with the awareness, knowledge and skills to integrate the two?

This thought provoking, innovative and inspirational workshop will provide attendees with powerful insight into the true impact of living and working in a reactive, fully connected world where failing to switch off both digitally and mentally poses a very real risk to the mental health of their workforce. Contemporary ideas will be presented on the ways that organisations can change existing working behaviours to enhance levels of resilience and enable employees to proactively change their attitude and behaviour in relation to their technological use.

The workshop will reveal how the key to preventing stress due to compulsive overworking is not to enforce a compulsory disconnection but to create solutions aimed at educating employees about the choices they make and the importance of psychologically refuelling. It will highlight the key roles prevalent within this process and the ways that an EAP forms the foundation of a strategic and targeted approach to ensuring that technological advancement isn’t at the detriment of employee health. The session will uncover practical ways to revolutionise working behaviours across an organisation, not through enforced unplugging but through an elevated consciousness of the power of self awareness and self control.

The insight provided will teach attendees how and why it is possible to modernise the psychological processes of their workforce, bringing them up to date with the contemporary technological world and allowing them to thrive.

Session Description
This insightful and pioneering workshop is essential for any professional looking for contemporary inspiration and ground breaking strategies to practically reduce stress related ill-health and absenteeism in a demanding digital era. Looking at ways to modernise psychological processes in a technologically driven working world, the session will change the way you think about employee resilience and digitally disconnecting in an increasingly globalised working environment. It will equip you with the skills and knowledge to develop a comprehensive intervention to tackle stress and enable staff to thrive in the modern world.

Learning Objective 1
Understand the impact of technological advancement on the mental health of the workforce
Learning Objective 2
Create a strategy for raising awareness about the use of technology
Learning Objective 3
Develop a practical intervention to effectively change working behaviours related to overwork, stress and burnout

Audience Level
Intermediate