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New Program Connecting Business to Community

Townsville community information centre employee working with client. January 2023 BDmag

Effective business management demands that business owners and managers maintain a duty of care for their employees. That support is more important than ever in the wake of recent interest rate rises and the well- documented cost-of-living and housing crises synonymous with 2023.

The Community Information Centre Townsville (CIC) recognises that not every business has the scale
or means to offer that support, which might range from requiring assistance with finding new housing to counselling for mental health or simply needing assistance to create new social connections.

Helping to take some of that burden off employers, Townsville is rich in community service organisations and hobby groups that can assist and encourage those who seek them out. On the social side, you
can find anything from sporting clubs to gardening groups. Meanwhile, the community sector boasts supports as diverse as free legal advice, rehabilitation services, and business development opportunities.

Even with that variety, though, employers and employees alike can experience difficulties in finding and accessing the right services — even for those that are part of the community services sector.

“It can be super tricky to know how to engage with community and how to access support when needed,” Dylan Sparrow, Local Level Alliance Manager at Mercy Community observes.

The CIC has been working to demystify that process for the last 40 years with its walk-in service at 280 Flinders Street and its printed and online Community Resource Directories. In 2024, CIC will begin to offer a Community Induction Program as a force multiplier to these efforts, informing and empowering business owners and managers to support their employees directly.

WHAT IS A COMMUNITY INDUCTION PROGRAM?

A Community Induction Program is designed to add a new dimension to employee induction processes. Traditional inductions are about teaching new employees the ins-and-outs of a new workplace, including policies, procedures, reporting lines, and more. Those are all vital to ensuring the new employee is familiar with the expectations of the business and able to acclimate to its operations.

However, workplace norms have changed, and employees are looking for more than just knowing the job and employers are recognising that there is a direct cost to the business when workers have personal difficulties in their lives. Recent research by O.C. Tanner shows that creating a sense of belonging within workplaces can improve employee retention by up to 43% and significantly reduce burnout and other negative mental effects. This is what the Community Induction Program sets out to achieve.

The Program consists of an interactive session tailored to the demographics and needs of the particular business or industry sector. During the session, employees are made aware of some of the most relevant support services they may need to draw upon over time, as well as provided with the means and knowledge to seek out any additional services they (or their friends, family members, or colleagues) may require.

“Our main goal in creating the Community Induction Program was to ensure that everyone can find the support they need or opportunities they seek. It seems very straight forward but knowing that help and community is right at your fingertips has a cumulative effect,” says CIC General Manager Teresa Hudson.

“Research shows that people who feel supported in their workplaces are happier, more productive, and more likely to stay with that employer for longer. The Community Induction Program is a smart Investment if you want a sustainable business where employees feel valued and connected.”

CIC recently ran an introductory version of the Community Induction Program, which was attended by 74 people representing industries and roles as diverse as human resources, education, media, technology, health, and real estate.

“I left the training feeling informed. I believe knowing what support is available within the community is very important as well as being able to refer others. This training has made me feel confident to do that.” said Georgia Hill from Sharehouse Youth Programs.

In the feedback derived from the sessions, every attendee indicated that they would have benefitted from this training when they were beginning their employment.

To find out more about how your business can engage and benefit from the Community Induction Program, contact the CIC on (07) 4727 9730 or via email at

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Compiled by the BDmag editorial team
BDMag

BDMag

Compiled by the BDmag editorial team