Working in aviation is not a walk in the park. Ask Air New Zealand. It can be exciting and fun, but it can also involve working in high-risk environments, shift work, and dealing with people, who, let’s face it, are not all rays of sunshine. Working in aviation as we shift out of a global pandemic adds a whole other level of difficulty.
With the first event in Karryon’s Open Mindset series about to take off, we caught up with Air New Zealand’s GM Australia Kathryn O’Brien to talk about how and why the airline is embracing Open Mindset and mental wellbeing in the industry. Air New Zealand is a Silver Sponsor of the event.
Why do you feel an event like Open Mindset is needed?
Many airlines will be experiencing similar health and wellbeing challenges for their people. With the significant impact of COVID on our workforce and operations, we are at the latter end of the rebuild of our workforce, schedule and operations, and have large populations of new people.
Many of these people are new to aviation and adjusting to shift work, customer-facing roles and working in high-risk environments. It’s vital these people are well-trained, supervised and supported until they build their aviation awareness and experience.
It’s also vital we make sure they are aware of the wellbeing support available to them throughout their careers especially following this challenging psychosocial period as we emerge from the pandemic and a busy aviation bounce back.
Those challenges such as supply chain shortages, fatigue, cost of living and the culture of the travelling public can influence the wellbeing of our people on a daily basis.
Shared forums such as Open Mindset are valuable for sharing ideas, issues and solutions that will benefit the industry as a whole where we all have different levels of maturity and innovation.
What strategies has Air New Zealand implemented to provide support for both your employees and who work remotely
Having balance between work and personal life is important to us, so we ensure flexible working options are available to Air New Zealand’s people. Where we can, we work to give employees additional flexibility to support individual work styles. For example, if their role allows, our people can enjoy flexibility through working from another location. When they do, we ask them to keep ‘ROAM’ principles in mind: respect, open communication, accountability for how work is delivered, and maintaining culture and connection.
What are some of the initiatives that Air New Zealand has developed to support the mental health and overall wellbeing of its employees?
The health and wellbeing of our people is Air New Zealand’s number one priority. As an airline, operational and people safety is always at the forefront of everything we do to ensure the safety of our customers and our people.
Equally, we ensure employee wellbeing is a priority as our teams are our greatest asset. We offer our people a range of personalised support options, should they need it. This includes our comprehensive Employee Assistance Programme, wellbeing check-ins, and a number of digital tools and resources our people can access on demand.
We also enable our leaders and managers with the knowledge, tools and support to understand how they can look after the mental health and wellbeing of their teams and build a culture of positive relationships and support amongst peers.
Air New Zealand has a number of peer support networks offering confidential support and advice to assist our people to have more meaningful wellbeing conversations.
Ultimately our aim is to create a culture where those who are thriving are empowered to maintain their wellbeing and help those who are struggling, and those who are struggling feel comfortable asking for and receiving support from their peers and the support options available.
Safety and Wellbeing in design are also incredibly important to us to ensure our workplaces and the way we design our work, such as our roles and work processes, enable our people to be at their best to prevent physical injury and build psychological safety.
The first event in the Open Mindset series is happening this week. Karryon will be reporting live on the day.
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