In this blog
- Psychosocial Hazards Code of Practice – what’s changed?
- Prevention is always better than cure
- Equipping Team Leaders to create a positive team climate
- Creating ownership and accountability through our programmes
- A special EOFY offer for all subscribers
Psychosocial Hazards Code of Practice – what’s changed?
The new Psychosocial Hazards at Work Code of Practice introduces new requirements for the management of psychosocial hazards, requiring employers to identify, assess, and mitigate workplace risks to psychological health. These WHS updates have set a firm obligation to create a work environment where employees feel their psychological wellbeing, mental health, emotional wellbeing and social connectedness are protected.
Why the Change?
With poor mental health estimated to cost the Australian economy around $70 billion annually1, and workers’ compensation claims related to mental health expected to triple by 20302, the new Code of Practice creates a catalyst for change to address and prevent harm and improve people’s wellbeing.
Prevention is always better than Cure
Psychological health and safety in the workplace now have the same levels of recognition and importance as physical health and safety with a requirement by persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to express a positive duty of care. This new Code offers an opportunity for HR teams to proactively support leaders and employees in creating and maintaining a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.
By taking an integrated and considered approach, organisations can not only take steps to de-risk by minimising hazards, but they can also benefit by offering innovative development opportunities that give them an edge in the current war for talent.
Some of the practical steps being taken by organisations to address Psychosocial Hazards include:
- mitigating stressors and helping people deal more effectively with stress
- building organisational resilience by equipping leaders to create positive team climates
- promoting thriving and engagement by increasing protective factors such as inclusion and belonging plus growth and development opportunities
Focusing effort on enhancing the protective factors can help to mitigate the effects of risk factors and minimise the impact of potential hazards.
Taking a Proactive Approach is a No Brainer!
The business case for creating a psychosocially safe workplace is clear. Compelling evidence shows that when people feel psychosocially safe, they perform better, engagement rises, innovation is enhanced, wellbeing improves and KPI’s are met and exceeded3.
Creating a healthy workplace environment that supports thriving requires team members and leaders to be able to prioritise and take accountability for their own wellbeing, to develop trust, value each other’s input and engage in meaningful conversations. Achieving these can be particularly challenging however, when teams are operating remotely and when people don’t have a common shared language for discussing sensitive issues and raising concerns through meaningful conversations.
Expressed Positive Duties of Care
At the centre of risk assessment and management is a culture and leadership approach of expressed positive duty of care. From the 2 models below, one has management commitment at its centre (as published in the Codes of Practice of most States and Territories), the other, from the Government of Western Australia, deepens its commitment to include leadership and creating supportive and capable management and supervision.
It is in this central field of capability that we can help to create and maintain a positive approach to this key change.
‘Supportive leadership, positive relationships and professional and respectful interactions can help to minimise a range of psychosocial hazards’
Safework Australia Model Code of Practice
Creating Ownership and Accountability through our Programmes
At BrainSmart our four pillars of professional development are designed to help leaders and their people to:-
- Work smarter
- Lead better
- Build great Teams
- Thrive in Change
Within all the programmes that we offer, we can map the outcomes to the proactive management of many psychosocial hazards in the workplace. Though we focus in this article on our ‘Dealing with Change and Building Resilience’ programme, many of our other offerings map to minimising psychosocial hazards, for example ‘Getting to Grips with Unconscious Bias, Creating Productivity Habits of Excellence and Building BrainSmart Teams.
Our ‘Dealing with Change and Building Resilience’ professional development programme has been designed with the latest insights from Neuroscience to help people perform at their best by increasing knowledge, developing understanding and taking action to adapt to change, manage stress and boost levels of resilience.
The programme offers insights, relevant information and practical tools to help people manage their own performance and wellbeing, and, equally importantly, it supports leaders in having meaningful conversations with their people to find and create ways for teams to thrive in uncertainty, challenge and change.
At the end of this info journal is an example of how this programme maps to certain identified psychosocial hazards.
The programme is designed to help people:-
- use relevant knowledge of their brain to normalise physical, mental and emotional responses to stress and change
- handle pressure and uncertainty to deal effectively with stress
- build adaptability to change using practical evidence-based tools and techniques
- effect a shift by challenging the way thoughts and emotions are managed and regulated
- boost levels of resilience by studying the traits of highly resilient people
The focus in on the person as a whole person, as opposed to a focus on work alone, and everything learned can be applied outside of the workplace.
Creating a Positive Team Climate
While the programme is available to individuals, we have experienced that learning together as a team provides a unique opportunity for a shared and meaningful experience where everyone can discuss their insights, ‘aha’ moments and impacts from strategies learned and implemented.
Through this shared experience, organisations are enabling and facilitating deeper conversations, supporting teams in creating a climate of sharing and openness and creating a positive team culture, connection and belonging.
Going through the programme as a team provides a common language and framework for members to explore how to apply their learnings, not only to themselves but to their colleagues, the organisation and the stakeholders they serve.
We created a Leader’s Discussion Resource to enable leaders to facilitate meaningful conversations about these important topics and build on the insights shared.
A Leader’s Discussion Resource – Leading the Conversation
Being able to talk with team members about sensitive subjects such as change, stress and resilience is extremely important and we recognise that it can also be difficult if these topics are not part of your everyday culture and conversation. In our experience, people often don’t know how to express themselves and if there is no common language or shared understanding of these important subjects, they can be left unaddressed and with possible negative consequences.
We created a resource in conjunction with our ‘Dealing with Change and Building Resilience’ programme that is a comprehensive, module by module guide, designed specifically to help leaders develop their skills to create and sustain a healthy team culture. For a sample copy of the resource, please get in touch
Discussing the topics covered in the programme openly and respectfully, not only develops leaders and their people, but also encourages the development of psychological and psychosocial safety and trust amongst the team.
Leadership and Culture – a Caveat
No amount of change, stress management or resilience training will contribute to a positive ‘duty of care’ culture if the existing culture of the organisation is in direct conflict with this philosophy.
If you are part of a culture where empathy and compassion are absent, the sole focus is on productivity, performance and outputs or a ‘shut up and get on with it’ attitude exists, then change must start from the top before working with employees.
Similarly, a culture of ‘niceness and politeness’ where happiness and harmony is sought by maintaining the status quo, where no-one speaks up and everyone walks past bad behaviours, can be equally as toxic.
This key change to the workplace is not about creating a ‘soft and fluffy’ culture, rather it’s about taking positive action to ensure that the people who have been employed are fit for their role and can thrive in their time with the organisation. All this makes good business sense.
Safework Australia Model Code of Practice
A special End Of Financial Year offer for all readers
If you are an individual and want to access the online programme instantly you can find out what’s included and get instant access here
If you are in a position where you want to commit now and run the program at a later date then please get in touch.
For the team and leadership programmes you can schedule a call where I will take you through the options and the special 20% End Of Financial Year discount (if you are based outside of Australia or operate in a different financial year, it’s a straight 20% discount!) – just reply to this email.
1 – Productivity Commission – https://www.pc.gov.au/
2 – Mental Health and the Workplace Report 2022 – https://www.ceda.com.au/
3 – Safework Australia https://www.safeworkaustralia.
4 – Bad is Stronger than Good – Baumeister 2001
Appendix I – How BrainSmart’s Professional Development programmes can help address Psychosocial Hazards in the Workplace
The ‘Dealing with Change & Building Resilience’ Programme includes or Supports:-
|Leaders’ Bullying style
|Workload and work pace – job demands
|Job control and autonomy
|Role conflict or lack of role clarity
|No focus on wellbeing or self-care
|Inadequate reward and recognition
|Remote working Impacts
|Not resilient in dealing with change
|Conflict and poor workplace relations and interactions
|Poor organisational change management
|Poor organisational justice
|Negative blame culture
**This may involve additional discrete leader coaching sessions
We appreciate that those people working in HR and WHS are already working to maximum capacity with the myriad post Covid changes and so we are reaching out to help in any we can to create a proactive, positive approach that will contribute to a culture and climate of psychological and psychosocial health at work.