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Shifting the ethos from client-first to team-first: Pisani Group 

Find out how the Director of the Pisani Group changed his approach to wellbeing after experiencing burnout first hand.  

Pisani Group
  • COVID-19 placed unprecedented stress on the Pisani Group (a South Australian accounting firm), with people working long hours with increased demands.  
  • Director, Stephen Pisani, felt the effects of this first hand and sought advice to reassess the organisation’s approach and invest in worker wellbeing.   
  • The Pisani Group implemented wellbeing initiatives, including wellbeing meetings, educational practices and additional leave for workers to actively manage their mental health and wellbeing.   
  • It was important for leadership to embrace wellbeing and actively engage with the initiatives (e.g. participating in workshops, utilising leave) to empower staff to do the same.   

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous businesses, including the Pisani Group (a South Australian accounting firm), faced unprecedented workplace stresses and demands. Director of the Pisani Group, Stephen Pisani, experienced burnout first hand. Working up to 20 hours a day and managing over 500 businesses and clients, Mr Pisani realised he needed to change his approach from putting the client first to putting himself and his team first.   

“My team is my greatest asset. Without my team, I can’t support the client. So that was the big shift to say, it’s time to put my team first and their wellbeing.” Stephen Pisani, Director  

The Pisani Group engaged Rebecca Weatherill from Workplace Wellbeing to tailor a wellbeing strategy and develop a program of wellbeing-focused activities in the workplace. The organisation began with a foundational wellbeing workshop. But Mr Pisani saw the need for consistent investment in worker wellbeing, so implemented a structured program focusing on life skills both in and outside the workplace. 

Staff can access 4 wellbeing days per year, where teams get together to engage in wellbeing activities. Workers also receive 2 wellbeing leave days per year on top of their standard annual and sick leave, which they can use to manage their mental health and wellbeing. Staff can also access external facilitators, including a wellbeing coach, a life coach and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  

Mr Pisani encountered scepticism from internal teams and external organisations when introducing this wellbeing strategy. Clients considered closing the office for a day to focus on wellbeing as inconvenient, and businesses perceived the initiative as coming at a cost. However, Mr Pisani views these days and wellbeing in general as an investment in staff and giving them the tools to improve as a team.   

The benefits for the Pisani Group are clear. Worker productivity and engagement has risen by 30%. The positive impact of the team-first approach is also reflected in intangible evidence: positive attitude changes, an increase in genuine care, assistance between workers and independent initiation of wellbeing activities.  

Mr Pisani believes workplace wellbeing is necessary for all businesses, and his advice is to engage an external facilitator for the program to ensure continuous investment in worker wellbeing.   

  • Financial and Insurance Services
  • SA
  • Published 25 Jul 2023
  • Updated 25 Jul 2023