LifeWorks Relationship Counselling and Education Services.
1300 543 396

LifeWorks is a not for profit organisation that provides family, couple and individual
counselling, education, training and workplace services in Victoria Australia.

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Welcome to the Winter 2015 edition of the LifeWorks in the Workplace Relationships Matter newsletter, in this editon we cover: 

LESS FINANCIAL AUDITS AND MORE CULTURAL AUDITS: Leah Walls explains how cultural audits can resolve issues within a work place quicker and with less stress than other processes.

TEN 'HOT' TIPS TO KEEPING TEAMS FOCUSED: Senior Consultant, Rebecca Henshall shares her ten 'HOT' tips on how to end the financial year well and keep teams focused in Winter.

NEW TO THE LIFEWORKS TEAM:  Leah Walls takes over as LifeWorks in the Workplace Manager and introduces Alison Drew-Forster to the team.

FREE WEBINAR – UNDERSTANDING EAP BEST PRACTICE: Next in our series of Webinars, EAP manager Jamie Anderson will share what best practice means in the EAP space.

FREE WEBINAR – LESSONS IN LOVE LANGUAGES: LifeWorks Relationship Counselling and Education Services is hosting a public webinar for couples on healthy, safe and respectful relationships – something to share with staff?

LifeWorks in the workplace for all your consulting, training, eLearning and EAP needs, Call 1300 543 396.

Picture of Rebecca Henshall

By Leah Wells – Manager Business Services

Less financial audits and more cultural audits

The end of the financial year tends to become all encompassing as June 30th fast approaches. With all eyes on the bottom line it can sometimes be the case that relationships, health and wellbeing within the team run the risk of being neglected and the team culture takes a battering. While organisations concentrate on the financial stocktake have we forgotten the team dynamics? Should there be less financial audit and more cultural audit?

The aim of the cultural audit process is to work toward resolving problems and ensure staff have an involvement in designing and implementing solutions.

A Cultural Audit is a process that can be used when a group (e.g. a team or work unit) is experiencing a range of issues. The issues may be about operational work processes, working relationships or larger cultural issues. Often there is a lack of clarity and agreement about the cause and scope of the issues. A cultural audit engages an external, independent professional to talk to staff confidentially. Through this process issues are identified and a process suggested to work through them constructively. Importantly, a cultural audit is not a formal investigation or a mechanism for reporting specific grievances. Rather, it is a neutral process that provides anonymity to those involved to ensure they can safely express their view about the issues as they see them in their workplace.

Each cultural audit is designed to suit the circumstances and organisation but typically involves confidential interviews and a summary report. From the summary report recommendations may be made for further work such as a faciliated group discussion, education session, referral to counselling or mediation. It is up to those involved to decide what process they want to use and what is suitable in their particular circumstance.

The advantages of a cultural audit process are that it:

  • provides a fair and safe forum for issues to be raised
  • provides clarity by identifying issues where there may have previously been confusion
  • assists people to better understand their own perspectives and those of others in the group
  • facilitates processes that allow people to contribute to discussion about problems within the workplace and to be part of designing solutions
  • is not punitive or disciplinary and is focused on fixing the problem
  • is often quicker, less stressful and less costly than other processes (grievances, court etc).

If you are interested in more information on LifeWorks' Cultural Audit Services contact the LifeWorks Business Services Team on 03 8650 6200 or email

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Picuture of Leah Walls

By Rebecca Henshall – Senior Consultant

10 'HOT' Tips to end the financial year well and focus team energy for winter

As the end of the financial year approaches, it’s easy to get caught up in the review of KPIs, targets and performance measures. In the chaos of end of year reporting we can often lose sight of the team. Completing an ‘end of year’ process with the team signs off on the year, and helps to progress with what’s next. If we roll on without appreciating the milestones, people quickly lose sight of what’s important and how to best work together.  So as the winter months approach and the end of financial year comes upon us, here are some tips to end the financial year well and focus team energy for winter.

  1. Team rituals – rituals are important to teams because they are a great way to highlight what’s important. Team rituals that support positive team behaviours, such as starting meetings with “what are we proud of/what’s going well?” or “How have we worked according to our team values/what some examples?” are constructive and productive approaches.
  2. Celebrate the end of the financial year well – Often morning teas and lunches are a standard way to celebrate, as are formal presentations by the CEO or leader of the team about the year.  As a team, we can recognise the value of each other if we highlight both personal and professional achievements e.g. completing study, getting fitter, coaching my child’s basketball team etc.
  3. Recognise effort and achievement – make use of the end of the year to tell stories about what’s worked well for the team and highlights of great performance and team outcomes. Good stories bring to life key themes and values for a team and recognise the value of each other in getting results.
  4. Resolve past issues – address and resolve challenges or problems in the team so that they don’t carry forward into the new year. It’s a good time to ‘take stock’ and reflect on “what do we want to leave behind, let go of or forgive...” and then “what do we look forward to, want to bring forward or create in the year ahead?” Giving everyone a chance to voice the issues that held the team back in the past enables the team to move into a fresh new year.
  5. Nourish our bodies – the colder months provide a great time to explore our culinary skills and try something new, and Master Chef gives us plenty of encouragement! Why not choose a country and everyone cook a dish and share with colleagues over lunch, or similarly have a ‘bake off’ in the office of your favourite recipes.  
  6. Keeping cosy – given you may be spending more time together in the office it’s easy for small irritations to lead to conflict. In the words of Reinhold Niebuhr – God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Trying Zen mantras, meditation, and using the ‘pause’ button  can help us avoid unnecessary conflicts. 
  7. Stay stimulated – often we can hibernate in Winter however that doesn’t mean we need to be closed off from the world. Stimulating our mind with new information and experiences is only a click away. Why not listen to a Ted Talk on a topic you know nothing about, sign up for a webinar, play online scrabble with friends or strangers. There are many opportunities to keep the mind active and the body warm.
  8. Keep active – sometimes don’t even venture out of the office at lunchtime for fresh air because the air is a little ‘too fresh’ at this time of year. So it’s the time to encourage stretching and indoor games to get the blood pumping. Toy shops have many toys that can be used indoors e.g. bowls, basketball hoop, soft balls etc so you can have fun, a bit of exercise and avoid any OH&S risks.  
  9. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) – some of us get grumpy in Winter. Please be kind to your colleagues who may need a dose of sun. Either encourage us to take a break or put up pictures of warmer places – apparently just looking at the pictures makes us feel better!
  10. Be optimistic – the sun will come back – eventually! Maintain your optimism for life and work over Winter by engaging in new experiences, pursuing new hobbies or interests, or finding new groups to join, and share them with colleagues. It’s a great way to find out more about each other and you might even find some shared interests!

For more information about LifeWorks training programs including Communication Skills, Building Resiience and Team Workshops call  03 8650 6200 or email

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Pic of Alison Drew-Foster
Alison Drew-Forster – Consultant Business Services

New to LifeWorks in the Workplace

In May, Leah Walls who has been working in the Business Services team as senior consultant since 2011 accepted the position of Manager, Business Services. As well as leading LifeWorks in the Workplace consulting, investigation, and mediation responses in Business Services, Leah came to LifeWorks with a wealth of management and business experience. Leah looks forward to building on the range of business services already offered through LifeWorks in the Workplace and continuing to strengthen the expertise organisations can access.

In a first step, Alison Drew-Forster has joined the team as a consultant. Alison has over fifteen years experience in Workplace Relations and HR both as a legal practitioner, consultant and associated HR Management roles. Alison has significant practical experience conducting workplace investigations across a variety of industries, including investigating sources of conflict within teams (cultural audits). Alison’s other main area of expertise is in the design and delivery of facilitated training, her facilitation style is relaxed and engaging, with an emphasis on participant engagement. Find out more about Alison on the LifeWorks in the Workplace website.

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Free Webinar: THURSDAY 23 July, 11AM - 12PM

FREE WEBINAR: Understanding EAP best practice

LifeWorks is often asked about the value of an EAP and how it can show bottom line benefit to companies regardless of size. Questions around barriers to access and why some organisations benefit more than others often comes down to the way in which they understand where EAP fits within a holistic well-being strategy.

EAP Manager, Jamie Anderson, will deliver a free workplace webinar on EAP to assist organisations to get the best value out of their EAP providers.

Key learning outcomes of the webinar will include:

  • Understanding where EAP fits in a human resource strategy.
  • What constitutes best practice EAP utilisation.
  • Links between staff well-being and its impact on workplace productivity, absenteeism and culture.
  • How to get staff to see value in an EAP and to proactively seek support.
  • The importance of the working relationship between your EAP provider and Human Resource Management.

Who should attend: HR Managers, Team Leaders and LifeWorks EAP clients

Find out more and register here >> 

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WEDNESDAY 29 July, 7.30PM - 8.30PM


FRIDAY 31 July, 11AM - 12PM

FREE WEBINAR FOR STAFF - Lessons in Love Languages

As many of you know LifeWorks in the Workplace is part of LifeWorks Relationship Counselling and Education Services.

The LifeWorks Relationship Team are hosting a free webinar open to the public that focuses on what makes a healthy, safe and respectful relationship, starting with the concept of Love Languages.

As a company you know first hand how relationships outside the office can impact us at work. We are hoping that by providing this free webinar we can help people understand what really matters and what works when we commit to someone. We also know that when our relationships at home are going well our productivity and performance is increased at work.

We recommend that you share this opportunity with your staff, it only needs to make a difference to one couple to make the effort of sharing worthwhile. 

Key learning outcomes of the webinar will include:

  • Understanding the concept of Love Languages (words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts of giving and receiving, acts of service, quality time).
  • Identify your and your partners Love Language.
  • Using Love Languages to increase intimacy and closeness within a relationship.
  • Learn about the seven principles of what makes a relationship work.
  • Be alerted to the four critical factors that can harm relationships.
  • How to start a conversation about your relationship.
  • How to seek support for your relationship.

We have a range of communication resources that you can download and use on your internal communication platforms, please feel free to share or call for more information.

Who should attend: Anyone wishing to understand the dynamics of relationships better.

LifeWorks Relationship Counselling and Education Services is partially funded by the Department of Social Services. 

Download Resources here >> 

Register here >>