Engaging and Delivering in COVID
Engaging and Delivering in COVID
Aug 3 2021
4min 5sec read
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown us significant challenges yet through it all The Personnel Group staff continue to put their clients first.
With Wollongong and Shellharbour areas under Greater Sydney’s tight lockdown, staff in those areas have stepped up.
Employer relationships coordinator John, who is based in our Dapto office, has experienced firsthand the impact of the pandemic and the associated restrictions.
“These most recent lockdown measures within the Illawarra have been the most trying and challenging for the team,” he says.
“For a large portion of our clients who are already affected by ongoing mental health issues this has had a significant impact.
“It has been a blow and I’ve witnessed incredible resilience and perseverance as we have continued to provide a very high level of support for our clients and employers by continually adjusting and reevaluating our practices to reflect the circumstances.”
John’s colleague, client attraction officer Tennille, says staff have remained positive amid the uncertainty.
“The past 12-18 months have been a trying time but we are staying connected regularly with morning and afternoon Zooms, and our phones are always on for each other if we need to have a chat,” she says.
“The participants I’m helping have remained positive and understanding as things continuously change.”
“We are doing everything we did before but remotely; Zooms, phone calls and emails instead of face-to-face meetings.”
Shellharbour employment consultant Matt says it has been a challenge to ensure participants remained engaged.
“We have needed to become very adaptable and willing to find other ways of working and creating opportunities for our clients,” Matt says.
“We have completed so much more phone servicing than before but we have made the most of it and have worked to keep our clients as engaged as possible.”
And the commitment is paying off.
“Our participants are fatigued from the constant rule changes, we are too, but they’re engaged and we can see that with the number of our clients we have moved into employment,” says Wollongong employment consultant Kelly.
“We are still finding the vacancies, I’m still moving clients towards employment and preparing them for employment, but I am also checking on participants’ welfare a bit more and lending an ear and referring to relevant services.”
People support officer James believes The Personnel Group leadership and staff appreciate they are in the fortunate position of being able to work through the pandemic and, importantly, understand the role they play in their communities during difficult times.
“When you really get down to it, we’re trying to help the people in our community, it’s as simple as that,” James says.
“We’re lucky we all have employment where we can work from home with our laptops, it’s not ideal but at the end of the day we’ve got to put our clients first.
“It’s pretty remarkable that people will put aside their personal challenges to make sure our clients have a better opportunity moving forward. They’re thinking about our clients’ future rather than their own. I think that’s a beautiful thing.”
He says all staff have handled the work upheaval with incredible positivity, with results in Wollongong and the Shellharbour region comparable to what has been seen across Victoria, which has had multiple lockdowns.
“It’s interesting, Bendigo for example is still placing people, still making sure people are getting into work which is pretty remarkable considering Bendigo, Shepparton, regional Victoria have been our most affected teams during 202-21,” he says.
For Wendy, an employment consultant based at Kyabram and Shepparton in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, not having face-to-face connections with participants has taken some adjustment.
“I found the initial appointment particularly different, assisting the participant into employment without having actually met with them face-to-face,” Wendy says.
“When lockdown was lifted I was quite keen to meet with them, to put a face to the name.”
Wendy agrees with James’ approach to service delivery.
“It’s important to keep on top of all the government and health guidelines but also to be flexible with any changes in the workplace and delivery of services as the community needs disability employment services, regardless of the COVID-19 situation,” she says.
Although working from home has had some unexpected benefits for Wendy: “My IT skills and problem solving have certainly improved … I look at this as a real positive.”