Steople (PeopleScape) are very proud and excited about being nominated as one of only two finalists in this year’s Australian Psychological Society (APS) Workplace Excellence Awards. On 31 October, 2019 the winner will be announced. We have been nominated for a program that was developed by Professor Michael Leiter from Deakin University and delivered by a team of Consultants from Steople.

The award for organisational development is designed to recognise organisation-wide interventions that improve organisational performance, efficiency, effectiveness and/or positive outcomes relating to organisational progress.

The SCORE Program: Strengthening a Culture of Respect and Engagement

The SCORE Program (Strengthening a Culture of Respect and Engagement) is made up of 5 sessions approximately 90 minutes long and run approximately 2-4 weeks apart. Specially trained Steople Consultants co-facilitate each session with an employee from the organisation who is trusted and respected by the workgroup. A baseline measure of competencies is established using an online pre-program survey which is later compared to survey data that is collected following the final session to recognise the changes realised by each team.

Why is this program important?

The program aims to promote a culture of respect and engagement within each team. It is based around Professor Leiter’s research into workplace civility and burnout.

Incivility is usually low intensity behaviours including little things like eye rolling or poor body language. Research suggests that a single incident of incivility can result in a 48% decrease in work effort, a 47% increase in absenteeism, a 63% decrease in productivity, and many more negative outcomes (Pearson and Porath, 2009).

You expect people to behave professionally at work and to a large extent they do, however one rude encounter can ruin your day. Some encounters are very unpleasant and have a huge personal impact. Even when they occur rarely, they have the power to shape a workgroup’s enduring culture.

How does the program work?

SCORE targets the workgroup culture by helping them to build positive interactions and improve how they work together. Essentially the program begins by building the workgroup’s level of psychological safety and then seeks to understand the “fast thinking” inconsiderate behaviours of the group. We use “slow thinking” (see Daniel Kahneman’s work) to examine the group’s unhelpful norms and behaviours and build new skills and helpful habits, which ultimately move back into our more helpful “fast thinking” and considerate habits as a team.

How did Western Health put this into practice?

Western Health runs three major public hospitals in Melbourne’s fast-growing and culturally diverse western suburbs. After a scathing 2015 Victorian auditor-general’s report on the health sector’s poor management of bullying and harassment, Western Health launched a positive workplace strategy, called ‘Don’t Walk Past’. This strategy combined with a range of educational initiatives on each person’s responsibility to manage themselves and speak out against inappropriate workplace behaviour, and annual surveys of Western Health’s 6500 staff, had generated improvements but hadn’t effectively tackled the whole team approach.

This is when Steople introduced Western Health to Michael Leiter’s SCORE program and the results are extremely promising. Suellen Bruce, the Director of People, Culture and Communication at Western Health sent out a baseline survey to the five groups that agreed to take part in the initial trial. The two groups with the highest response rate and lower levels of civility were selected in the first wave of the SCORE program.

Preliminary results show that the two groups have improved significantly more than the control groups who did not participating in the program. This includes significant improvement in supervisor trust, co-worker trust, and management trust. Attendance of the first three non-compulsory sessions also exceeded 90% which shows exactly how supported the participants felt throughout the process.

We have worked closely with Western Health to ensure the initial behaviour change is now sustained over time. We have continued to monitor ongoing outcomes, shared the results and encouraged them to take action in an ongoing way. Civility has been kept on the agenda, even at the Board level, and policies have been created to maintain the new more positive team norms and behaviours as the program is offered to other teams in crisis.


In the end, it all comes down to respect. As the Australian workforce becomes more diverse in culture and age, it is important that we understand what respect looks like for each individual. It is not enough to just stamp out bad behaviour within the workforce through redundancies and restructures. Organisations need to actively encourage positive interactions between employees to make sure their staff are fully engaged. This will enable employees to achieve maximum levels of productivity and performance.

I was introduced to Steople as I commenced my transition from the Army after a 37 year career. What had seemed a new landscape I would need to navigate on my own quickly became a journey I was making with a guide. I have appreciated ready access to the Steople principals who have passed on their extensive experience of the human resource domain, from contacts in government, business and the recruitment industry to an understanding of best practice in remuneration. I have also been impressed with the partners Steople use to deliver specific services such as CV and LinkedIn development – in each case I knew I was being guided by highly capable sector experts. I have developed a simple adage as a senior leader with a wide range of responsibilities: “professionals use professionals”. I am comfortable recommending the Steople team as a partner for those seeking trusted, experienced professional advice and support in a wide range of human resource services.

Arts Centre Melbourne is a place where people come together to create truly remarkable experiences for thousands of people every day of the year. Our culture is the key to doing this. We have partnered with Steople for over 4 years to help us create a culture where performance is valued, where everyone knows the role they play and where people are engaged as one team to achieve our shared objectives. We want collaboration to be the norm, where creativity and learning flourishes. Steople has delivered a wide range of services in areas such as leadership development, coaching and team development to help us create such a culture. We have loved our relationship with all their staff over this period because we have found they bring a wonderful balance of pragmatism and evidence-based research to our organisation. We have built deep and genuine relationships with the Steople team and together we have been able to drive some incredibly positive changes in our culture.

We explored the market to find a genuine partner that could offer a tailored suite of services to support us in selecting and developing talent for senior executive teams and boardrooms. Steople have not only delivered a contemporary and tailored offering, they have exceeded our expectations through their incredibly responsive service and the care and interest they show for the people we are working with. I recommend Steople without any reservation.

“I’ve worked with Steople on a number of occasions and have found their level of professionalism and responsiveness to be outstanding. The key to their success in working with our firm, is that they ensure that they understand the business and it’s challenges. Steople are also very good at keeping the client informed on progress, without having to follow them up. Their consultants are very personable and have a genuine interest in helping your company succeed”

“We have been using the services of the staff at Steople for over 12 years now, and over that time they have provided invaluable specialist HR support and services in difficult circumstances. The team at Steople are first class – totally reliable, absolutely confidential and their product and service is exceptional. We trust them 100% with our staff and our needs.”