Business SA Today

How to get 30 hours back in your week

Tanya Wilkins
Friday, July 29th 2022

Stephen Pisani’s accounting firm is one of many facing the stark reality of losing human roles to AI. He knew his business needed to be about adding value to clients and could not just be about the services anymore. Through innovation in their pricing, the Pisani Group gave themselves a distinct advantage. Yet there was still something missing amongst the team.

I was still on the tools’ far too often. I needed to be client-facing and leading the business, but at least 30 hours a week, I was being taken away from that to deal with staffing issues.

I wanted my staff to lead the service provision and feel good in the process. I engaged Rebecca Weatherill from Workplace Wellbeing to help us build a positive and productive culture across our three business services. 

Initially, staff were cautious and wondered what my motivation was for this program. But once they realised it was a genuine investment in their health and wellbeing, we saw incredible changes in mindset.

It was remarkable to see the increase in the productivity from staff who were happy and felt supported.

Through a new Mental Health & Wellbeing Policy, we communicated Pisani Group’s commitment and shared responsibility for employee wellbeing. This policy included an increase to the annual leave for all staff to enjoy a break at Christmas, as well as dedicated mental health and wellbeing’ leave days. 

Before this program, our three service departments felt like three very separate businesses, but now there is a consistent culture across the teams. We are one team just operating in different environments.

It is humbling to see the synergies between the businesses now.

This investment has made such good business sense too. I caught up with a colleague from another accounting firm just before the end of this financial year. They struggled with only 80% of lodgements completed, whereas we were sitting at 98%. So, we had more money coming through our books while staff had more time off than before. It was a considerable increase in productivity through an energetic team.

I wish we’d done this sooner.

Rebecca Weatherill used her knowledge of positive psychology theories and interventions, science-based assessments, and interactive workshops to inform this tailored strategy and rolling 12-month wellbeing plan for the Pisani Group.

My initial engagement to run a half-way wellbeing workshop grew to a 12-month partnership approach where I am now driving the tailored wellbeing solutions, says Rebecca.

The Pisani Group Wellbeing Program now provides sessions such as art therapy, mindfulness, and yoga. It also created competitive health challenges. For example, we had a cold shower challenge in February, and 15 of the 17 staff gave it a go. I was so proud. 

In March, there was a highly competitive step challenge to virtually walk’ between the two offices in Glenelg and Port Pirie (255 kms). Some teams made that in such good time that they turned around and walked back’.”

Both Stephen and Rebecca are passionate about supporting business to look after the wellbeing of their people.

I know that healthy people drive better business. I believe any business with a genuinely invested leader willing to take a structured, consistent and sustainable approach to building a wellbeing-focused culture will experience growth and success,” confirms Rebecca.

Stephen’s final judgement on this experience is that although business leaders may think it is difficult to change business culture and put the team’s wellbeing over profit, his results speak for themselves.

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