The modern-day workplace is a complex environment, and with it comes an array of psychosocial risks and hazards that can threaten the well-being of employees. The onset of new legislation which we have explored in previous articles has now forced Employers to take active and positive steps towards providing psychological safety in the workplace.
Psychosocial Risks and Hazards
Psychosocial risks and hazards are factors from work that can cause harm to an employee’s psychological well-being in the workplace.
In practical terms, the changes require reasonable steps to be taken to eliminate or minimize psychosocial risks and hazards in the workplace. These obligations are positive obligations on Employers and officers of the employer.
Some of those hazards include:
- high or low job demands – unreasonable time pressures, unattainable deadlines, demanding work hours or shift work
- poor or lack of support – poorly maintained or inadequate access to supervisory support, limited opportunities to engage with co-workers during the work shift
- low role clarity – a worker being given conflicting information about work standards and performance expectations
- low reward and recognition – no fair opportunities for career development
- remote or isolated work – fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers and workers who spend a lot of time traveling, workers working alone from home or socially isolated away from home over long periods of time
- bullying – repeated incidents of practical jokes, belittling or humiliating comments.
The hazards can be loosely grouped into 3 areas:
- interpersonal conflicts
- the work itself
- personal issues
Here are 5 practical steps to implement controls for mitigating psychosocial risks and hazards.
Data plays a critical role in identifying and mitigating psychosocial risks in the workplace. It provides employers with valuable insights on employee well-being, job satisfaction, stress levels, and potential risks that could lead to mental health issues or other problems. Data can also provide information to Employers on priority areas to start work on when looking at implementing programs.
One of the most effective ways to gather data is through an employee engagement survey.
This type of survey can help identify areas where employees feel unsupported or overwhelmed, as well as areas where they believe their employer is doing a good job in promoting their mental health and well-being.
In addition to surveys, employers may also collect data through other means such as work reviews or feedback sessions with individual employees. This information can be used not only to mitigate risks but also to improve overall productivity and performance within the organization.
Collecting and analyzing data is crucial for any employer looking to create a safe and healthy workplace environment for its employees. By leveraging this information effectively, employers can take meaningful steps towards creating positive changes that benefit both workers’ mental health as well as business outcomes.
Employee engagement is a crucial aspect of mitigating psychosocial risks in the workplace. Engaged employees are more likely to be motivated, productive and committed to their work, which can lead to better overall wellbeing.
One way to improve employee engagement is through regular communication with staff members. This can include one-on-one meetings and team meetings where feedback on the work itself and work load, company policies and procedures can be discussed openly.
Ultimately, improving employee engagement requires dedication from both employers and employees alike.
In particular it requires time and potentially structured and regimented time put aside by people managers to engage with employees and keep the lines of communication open.
Training is an essential component of mitigating psychosocial risks in the workplace.
Providing leadership groups and management teams with adequate management training is essential in:
- mitigating risk
- identifying risk
- assessing the risk
- controlling and managing the risk
Our People Management Training Workshops have been very popular:
- it delves into how the workplace health and safety changes should not be quarantined but considered as well across the board and how it affects other aspects of law such as General Protections, Unfair Dismissal, Workers Compensation and Workplace Bullying;
- providing practical aspects and even work on an action plan;
- put it in the context of what might occur in the workplace with case studies, role plays and group discussions
- understanding of the personal liability
- empowering and developing management capability to deal with these changes and still undertake reasonable management actions
- ensuring the workshops are interactive and therefore practical to develop management strategies in a collaborative way
More information on the NB Employment Law People management training programs can be found at this link.
Complaint handling is an essential aspect of mitigating psychosocial risks in the workplace. It involves creating a safe and supportive environment for employees to raise concerns without fear of reprisals or retaliation. Complaints can range from bullying, harassment, discrimination, and other forms of misconduct that affect employee well-being.
Effective complaint handling begins with having clear policies and procedures that outline how complaints should be reported, investigated, resolved, and communicated to all parties involved. Employees need to understand their rights and obligations concerning raising complaints.
Human Resources and People and Culture should ensure that:
- There is a clear complaint handling process
- The process is followed
- The employees know about the process
- Leaders and managers understand and know about the complaint handling process
When dealing with hazards around interpersonal conflict the process around complaint handling will be key.
Work reviews are an essential component of managing psychosocial risks in the workplace. Regular work reviews help employers identify potential hazards and implement strategies to mitigate them. They can also provide employees with an opportunity to give feedback on their working conditions, including any issues related to psychosocial risks.
This could be done on a regular basis to ensure workloads are spread and to avoid scope creep. A position description and KPIs will assist in providing clear expectations.
Obtaining feedback on workflow from employees will also give people managers an understanding of any potential pressure points which may lead to a psychosocial hazard.
By taking practical steps such as conducting data analysis, engaging employees through surveys, providing training and support mechanisms, handling complaints effectively, communicating regularly with staff and implementing thorough work reviews – employers can create safe and healthy workplaces that promote employee well-being while reducing the risk of harm from psychosocial hazards.
What a lot of these practical steps require is:
- Potentially some budget
- A mental shift to understand, take steps and work on
The mental shift is probably the most substantial of the three, in that, it will require all leadership teams to place this as a priority as part of their recruitment and retention strategy around their people.
Give NB Employment Law a call, we offer an obligation-free consultation and are happy to help. Reach out via [email protected] or +61 (07) 3876 5111 to book an appointment.
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NB Employment Law
+61 (07) 3876 5111
About the Author
Jonathan Mamaril leads a team of handpicked experts in the area of employment law who focus on educating clients to avoid headaches, provide advice on issues before they fester and when action needs to be taken and there is a problem of mitigating risk and liability. With a core value of helping first and providing practical advice, Jonathan is a sought after advisor to a number of Employers and as a speaker for forums and seminars where his expertise is invaluable as a leader in this area as a lawyer for employers.
+61 (07) 3876 5111