The potential benefits of establishing a mentally healthy and safe workplace are substantial, for both your people and your business.
When workplaces get it right, the benefits can include an increase in employee productivity and morale, and a decrease in the costs associated with mentally ill-health related absenteeism, presenteeism and compensation claims.
On the other hand, failing to adequacy address mental health in the workplace can negatively impact on the performance, productivity and attendance of employees. On top of this, compensation claims for psychological injuries can be some of the costliest, averaging more than three times the amount of those of a physical nature.
Employers also have a duty under Workplace health and safety regulations to manage psychosocial hazards in the workplace to eliminate or minimise the risks to the psychological health and safety of their people so far as reasonably practicable.
Every workplace is different, so what psychosocial hazards exist and how they are managed will depend on many factors, such as the work environment, organisational context and the nature of work performed. Below we have broken down five common psychosocial hazards that can exist in the workplace and the potential solutions for how they can be mitigated or managed.
High job demand is where the levels of physical, mental or emotional effort are unreasonable or exceed a person’s skills and abilities. This might include:
High job demand can result employees becoming overwhelmed and at risk of psychological distress. Individuals can be much more productive when there is a good balance between work allocation and their capacity.
Role clarity is the understanding an individual has of the tasks, responsibilities and expectations required of them in their job, as well as how their role contributes to the broader goals of the organisation. Lack of role clarity may include:
Having strong role clarity enables workers to better direct their energy to achieve the required results of the job. This leads to a greater sense of achievement and job satisfaction for the individual, and increased productivity for the organisation. However, if an individual has uncertainty around what is expected of it may lead to psychological distress.
Change can span from small and seemingly insignificant to confronting and life-changing (e.g., changing desks, to large scale organisational change). How individuals respond to change may depend on their history, personality, span of control, perceived impacts, involvement and more. Poor organisational change management may include:
Individuals can thrive and positively influence others through change when it is managed and communicated well. However, the risk of psychological distress increases during change if there is uncertainty or fear of an undesirable outcome.
Poor workplace relationships can include:
Having positive working relationships can contribute to a person’s resilience, engagement, job satisfaction and general wellbeing. However, there is an increased risk of psychological distress when there is a lack of, or damage to, interpersonal relationships within the workplace. Personal relationships outside of the workplace may also manifest as wellbeing and performance issues.
Inadequate recognition and reward occurs when there is an imbalance between a worker’s effort and the recognition or rewards they recieve, both formal and informal. This might include:
When an employee feels acknowledged and rewarded for their work and achievements, they are likely to feel more empowered, have higher job satisfaction and be more engaged, which leads to increased job retention. Alternatively, when an employee does not receive the recognition they believe they deserve, this can result in dis-engagement, cynicism, feeling devalued and burnt out.
It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list, you should always use the risk management process to identify what the hazards at your workplace are, assess the risks they create and implement the right controls for your organisation.
Healthy Business have recently partnered with Adaptive Psychology to provide our customers with subject matter expertise in organisational psychology, and to assist with the proactive mitigation and/or management of a range of common psychosocial hazards.
Find out more about more about the psychosocial hazards we can assist you with here.
When psychosocial hazards are effectively managed to create a menally healthy and safe workplace, organisations can benefit from a happier, healthier and more productive team.