By NZISM Secretary


I can’t believe it is that time of year already, I recall many years ago when December was a relatively slow month filled with Christmas lunches and client catch-ups before the summer holidays; working life has changed substantially and we now sprint through to the very end. This is the last of my updates for 2019 as the National office closes for 2 weeks between 23rd December and 6th January.

I'm extending my break until the 20th January. Taking a month off feels like a luxury; this year it also feels like a necessity. I'm not afraid to say that I am feeling the pressure, with a huge number of projects on the go, too many meetings and industry events to attend, and based on my conversations, I know most of you are in the same situation, feeling the pressure of a big workload and overbooked calendar.

Normally I make time to attend a body balance class every week because it helps me take time to stretch out muscles and focus on breathing properly, but at this time of year it's hard to even achieve that. I am getting exercise wherever I can because I know the benefits to my mental health. I hope all of you are finding some time to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and enjoy a class of something you love. I'm also trying to say no to catch-ups wherever I can, to claw back some time to focus on the important and urgent tasks at hand. This isn’t always easy but it is essential to managing your workload. It's easy to lose time dealing with issues that aren’t a priority, so when you are stretched you have to be ruthless, to ensure the only things you focus on are those that matter.

I recently attended the Healthy Work Conference in Auckland and heard from a range of fabulous speakers. Every year I enjoy this day of knowledge sharing, networking and time spent listening to those who are making real change in their places of work or across our industry. With an increased focus on mental health in our sector, something that struck a chord with me was a presentation from Dr. Peta Miller who discussed the cognitive and perceptual demands on people in their roles. She asked the room “Who regularly undertakes psychological risk assessments on their staff looking at risk exposure?” this was focused on workload and not one person put their hand up. This is something that I believe will become more important - as safety culture gets embedded in everyday work practice, the shift towards better understanding the psychological risks of work will grow.

With the recent tragedy at Whakaare, White Island, my thoughts are with those whose jobs put them in a position of dealing with extreme emergencies unlike anything they have seen before. We are all feeling a huge sadness for those that have lost loved ones, especially at this time of year. I think it's also important to remember those who are working around the clock to ensure that people can get their loved ones home as soon as possible. For these well-trained professionals, taking time out over the holidays will be especially important. They will need to spend time doing things that bring them pleasure and, although it sounds simple, it really does have the power to restore your energy and refill your bucket.

To recharge our batteries, my whanau reconnect with old friends at a DOC camping spot in the far, far north. It’s a hot and bothersome full-day journey but, once we have set up camp, the weight of a year's work is lifted from your shoulders and you get to focus on the stuff that really matters, the people that you love. My Christmas wish for you all is that you have a place like this to go to, a place to recharge the batteries with time to take stock of the year's achievements, the lessons learned, and soak up lazy days spent with your nearest and dearest.

Ngā mihi,

Selena Armstrong
Chief Executive Officer