What is Happening Upper Swan?

We are fortunate enough to work with the organisation Thompson and Redwood. They conduct the bulk of their quality stock feed business in the wonderfully named suburb to the east of Perth – Upper Swan.

No doubt there are many lines running through your head but let me reveal that the data we have just collected from the group at Thompson and Redwood in Upper Swan, delivered a world first for us at Optimum.

The world first meant delivering this news to their Managing Director Stephen Lamond. He was as surprised as we were with the data. We had analysed the physical measurements and self-reporting data on heart and head health from the organisation’s 35 employees.

He suggested the data may have been a collection of “porky pies”. We did suggest that it would be tough to get the whole group of 35 individuals to independently tell us lies.  Our findings in fact were further vindicated by his annual review of each member of the group.

The world first is that not one individual self-reported any red zone (high risk) responses to the Healthy Head Check. There were three elements assessed (Depression, Anxiety and Stress). All the responses were in the green (low risk zones) and only a few responses in the yellow zone (moderate risk). What a great result to report to any organisation. It got us thinking – why has this happened?

Could the dynamics of the group be a possible reason? Age ranged from 20 – 60+ years with the two biggest cohorts the >50 years (total of 12) and the 20-29 years (total of 11). The low-risk green responses were across the entire group. Our data base suggests that the younger groups generally report higher levels of challenges with head health, particularly females. In the older group, our data suggests it is not uncommon for head health to be reported in the red zones. So, this group does not follow the trend, notwithstanding the dominance of males.

85% of the group are males, with only 15% of females making the group a typical group that we have on our data base.  Our data does suggest that females report more head health matters, particularly anxiety. The dominant male group could explain (in part) the predominance of green (low risk) responses, as males are more reluctant to report openly on matters of head health.

The skill capability of the workforce ranged from unskilled to technical expertise. We noted everyone converses with everyone. The group is small enough so that all employees know each other’s name.  The on-site “office” is the hub of the operation. Again, this aspect is rather unique in our experience and certainly enhances building positive relationships within the group.

The feedback from the annual reviews conducted by Stephen Lamond, indicates that the group independently rate working at Thompson and Redwood as highly desirable. The group report enjoying their work as well as their workmates.

We started to think that there must be a higher level of influence or leadership working at Thompson and Redwood, as the physical conditions in the processing plant are challenging. It is a hot and dusty workplace. The employees appear to enjoy what they do and enjoy working with their immediate work colleagues. Perhaps the magic of the weekly BBQ where everyone is invited and does attend should not be underestimated.

The management at Thompson and Redwood must take credit for the work environment they have created. We witnessed the overt care displayed by management to the employees when we were on site. It was unique. It was spontaneous. It was unconditional. It is available to all who work at the site. When we asked Stephen if he always gives his employees $50 to get some petrol or assists in making appointments for individuals to see their GP due to a health issue…his response was a rather laconic, “doesn’t everyone do this for their employees?”

Maybe the blend of nationalities, languages, skills, the work itself and the management style all contribute to what we have never recorded before in a workforce. All the team aspire to get the job done. The harmony is palpable.

We have agreed to repeat the Healthy Head Check assessments and we will be running several other assessment points over the 24-month involvement with such a wonderful and unique group.

Having just read Head & HeartThe Art of Modern Leadership by Kirstin Ferguson, it struck me that perhaps she was writing about Stephen Lamond.

By Dr Graeme Wright

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