Out Doors Inc. – A Mentally Healthy and Productive Workplace

Founded in 1987, Out Doors Inc. is a community managed mental health organisation. Our primary focus is to use the medium of outdoor adventure with an emphasis on choice, challenge and risk taking to support those living with poor mental health.

Image: outdoorsinc.org.au

In 2006 following a turbulent period, leaders adopted an innovative approach to managing the organisation:

• Adopt team development of culture; document, with ongoing review
• Align systems, policies and processes within culture
• Provide flexible working hours and remote working opportunities
• Promote trust between management and staff
• Autonomy to work and meet deadlines flexibly
• Open-door policy to facilitate communication in the workplace
• Open-plan office to encourage discussions
• Promote and model the values of accessibility and openness
• Regular catch-ups to raise issues and implement necessary action

Develop and reinforce ongoing positive workplace culture

• Align systems, policies and processes to support it.

Recruit leaders with an interest in the needs of people

• Include culture in recruitment, induct and supervise staff.
• Provide a comfortable workplace for staff to be able to raise issues.
Motivate employees in a mentally healthy way
• Open-door and open-plan office layout foster closeness between staff and management,
• Managers lead by example.
• Open communication which provides a safe environment for staff to seek help,
• Staff feel that their views and contributions are valued at work.
• Flexible work environment and opportunities for professional development.
• An internal scholarship for professional and personal development opportunities is

Implementation of this model has yielded higher staff retention, high employee satisfaction and increased productivity. This has also enhanced quality of service and support for participants. Feedback and evaluation of our services has provided clear evidence of the effectiveness of the Out Doors Inc.’s approach to enhancing better mental wellbeing in the workplace.

In 2014, Out Doors Inc. was one of 19 organisations recognised by Heads Up as providing a model for healthy workplaces.

This update was kindly provided by Jennifer Norris, Iudita Trifa-Schmidt & Meng Ng, who attended the 16th International Mental Health Conference.

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