Saphal Acharya, Laboratory Assistant
Size: 50-99 staff
Background on entrant/nominee's employer
Giesen Group Limited is a family-owned New Zealand wine and beer producer headquartered in Christchurch with the main operational area in Marlborough. With 80 permanent employees, Giesen operates 750 acres of vines, a 28 million litre winery, a micro-brewery, and support administration and on road sales team. Giesen sells wine to 38 countries and annually this equates to approximately 2 million 6 bottle cases. Visit www.giesen.co.nz for more info.
“Sometimes your help can make someone’s life easier” a motto that Saphal Acharya, the Laboratory Assistant at Giesen Wines, lives by. Passionate about mental health of the people around him, Saphal believes that everyone has the right to an enjoyable place to work. Saphal has consistently used his skills in media to promote, educate, and inspire those around him to look after their mental health, seek help, speak up, and he is always a shoulder for others to talk to. His passion to support those around him and to courage to support others deserves recognition.
Authenticity and vulnerability
If there is one thing that Saphal does is talk the talk and walk the walk. He has always been consistent in his approach and care for the people he works around. Saphal started his journey into mental health by becoming a HSR and after attending the 2019 SafeSkills conference he knew immediately that was something that he wanted to work on. Saphal, who hails from Pokhara Nepal, believes in having a positive mental health mindset and sees the decline in mental health and rise in mental distress as a serious issue. One of the first things Saphal identified early on is to make sure that he looks after his mental health first and foremost, as one cannot help others if one cannot look after ourselves first. Like many of our staff who have found themselves stranded in NZ due to Covid, Saphal can relate to the uncertainty of not being able to freely visit his homeland, and concern for his family abroad. In 2020 Saphal organised a ‘Park Day’ for the team to celebrate MHAW and explore the 5 themes of wellbeing. One part of that was Saphal encouraged the team to share which one of the themes meant the most to them and why. To encourage others to share you must first be vulnerable yourself, and Saphal started off by sharing about connection and nature with his teammates; when he feels lonely and separated from family, he manages those emotions by taking his camera out into nature and going for a walk. When he does this, he takes time to appreciate the beauty around him and considers himself to be lucky to be alive in the moment and to be living somewhere safe. This was very humbling for the team sitting around him listening in.
Courage and leadership
When I read this quote, this is makes me think of Saphal ‘If someone is speaking to you with a foreign accent, they are smart enough to know two languages and brave enough to do their job in their second’. I do not think we fully appreciate how much courage it takes to not only do you job in your second language, but then to also elevate yourself to a HSR and take on communication and promotion of mental health in your second language. It takes courage for him to articulate the project he would like to do, approach senior management to ask for resources, time allocation, and funding (if needed) to show the organisation that there are enough reasons to gain support for the project. And it takes courage to talk to the team about mental health and share his own experiences. Saphal has also started up what he calls ‘Walk and Talk’ with his peers. The location of his workspace at our site makes him very visible to our staff in the cellar and he can quickly ascertain if someone is not feeling ok. When this happens Saphal takes on the role of asking that person ‘Are you ok?’ and being there to listen to them and if needed being the bridge between staff and management. This can consist of walking through the site together with the person, sometimes this has been a walk about the block of our wider industrial neighbourhood or finding someone else to connect them with. Being the support in this space takes courage. And Saphal does this off his own back.
Engagement and communication
Communication and getting his colleagues involved has been the basis of Saphal’s work in promoting mental health. He knows that mental health is all about people and he works hard to engage his peers in conversation, both is this nomination year and in the year previous. This has included: • Organizing a visit to the local park for his peers to reflect on the themes on MHAW 2020 • The activities he organised on this day were: o A short game of playing ball with the team o A walk in the park for the team to take notice of nature o Food to share o A poster board to show the five themes o A session for each of his peers to share your favourite theme of MHAW and why it means so much to you. There was 100% participation in this and was well received by the team. • Giesen ran an internal photo competition for MHAW in which Saphal participated and shared the photos on the internal Giesen Facebook page. He encouraged others to post as well. • Has made two harvest videos for our incoming staff to set a standard of teamwork and to influence a culture of openness and togetherness
Mental health is a living breathing continuum. It is neither always good, neither always bad. This is quite prevalent in our industry where the seasons and harvest have a wave like impact on the team’s mental health where there are troughs and crests throughout the year. We know that our heightened times of risk are around the harvest time and in the middle of winter. Those are the times that Saphal activities and events target the team to provide support, such as preharvest morale booster videos, and MHAW coincides with the end of winter. All events are well attended by the staff. Comments from the staff have been they enjoyed speaking about the topics, and hearing from others, learning more about the team, and that they would like to do it again. There was a noticeable boost in morale afterwards.
The nature of our business is that we have many staff that join us for the harvest season. In 2021 this was more than 70 new staff members who join us for only a few short months before heading out on their way again. As a family-owned business we still like to keep that family-owned feel, but harvest is a time of heightened safety risk and stress risk. To encourage a sense of belonging and inclusivity with the harvest staff, to set a standard of teamwork, and to influence a culture of openness and togetherness, Saphal wrote, shot, and edited a pre-harvest video for the incoming staff which is shared with them at induction day and online through our internal staff Facebook page. These videos introduce our current staff, sends positive message, and for 2021 Saphal organised for the team to do a skit to the ‘Friends’ theme song which clearly shows the power and expectation of teamwork. Also it can be very stressful when equipment gets disassembled and taken onto other jobs! Check out the latest video in the uploads section.
Innovation and creativity
Saphal has used his skills in media to create visual content to communicate, engage, and share mental health awareness with his colleagues. He has been creative used a multimedia approach to promote this topic including the use of video making the two harvest videos to showcase sense of belonging and inclusivity with the harvest staff and to influence a culture of openness and togetherness. In 2021 this included using a ‘Friends’ theme skit. Saphal also participated in the MHAW photo challenge that was run externally by the Mental Health Foundation, but also the internal competition that we ran as a company. Saphal took photos for the daily photo challenge and used them to looks at the basics of what we see, colours, and explained what he saw in each photo and how colours can connect us to our mental health and shared it with the team. In 2020 Saphal designed a ‘Park Day’ to celebrate and explore the five themes of wellbeing. To do this he created a poster, organised a schedule of events that around the themes. The schedule included connected with others by playing ball, taking a walk in the park to notice the elements of nature, there was food to share, he made a poster of the themes, and encouraged everyone to share which theme meant the most to them and why.
Supporting materials (optional)
Photograph of entrant/nominee (optional)
Link to video (optional)
Duncan Shouler, Chief Winemaker (Giesen Group)
021414960 • [email protected]
Amy Richards, Senior HSE Advisor (Giesen Group)
021301734 • [email protected]