The Workwell program launched by WorkSafe Victoria aims to support business leaders in preventing mental injury and promoting a mentally healthy workplace with resources, funding and networking opportunities.
Work is a big part of our daily lives and can help promote our mental health by giving us a feeling of purpose and a sense of contribution. There is a clear link between our experience in the workplace and our mental health and wellbeing. Under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, the employer must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health so far as is reasonably practicable. Health includes psychological health.
But what is a mentally healthy workplace? Firstly, it is one which has measures in place to prevent harm by identifying risks to mental health. It manages harm from an early stage and supports team members' recovery along the way. So, if a person's mental health is connected to their work, the question is asked how are your workplace system and practises affecting your team? There are a number of work-related factors which can be managed and controlled by employers to help create a mentally healthy workplace, and to prevent mental injuries. Work-related factors that are not managed and controlled may increase stress. This can lead to physical injury, mental injury, or even both at the same time. Of course, workers may be exposed to more than one work related factor at a time. Some may always be present while others may occur occasionally.
Common work-related factors that can become hazards if not managed are as follows:
Here are some examples:
Employees need challenging tasks to maintain their motivation and to develop new skills, but they also need to be able to cope with any new demands. These may have a significant impact on the team. If job demands are high, think about the support employees need from supervisors and their work colleagues. Also think about the level of control the employee has in their job to meet demands.
Poor workplace relationships can negatively affect the way an employee feels at work. When groups of people work together, it is likely some conflict will arise from time to time. So it is important that a workplace takes proactive steps towards preventing and managing conflict by developing a culture that promotes appropriate workplace behaviour and respectful relationships. It' is important to also consider the environmental conditions at the workplace and how these may impact on how a person feels. Air quality, noise, and temperature may increase the risk of stress to an employee. An employee may not identify and report these factors immediately, but over time these may impact on their mental health and contribute to a mental injury.
Good work design enables employees to be engaged in work that is healthy, safe, and productive. Consulting with employees on matters that affect their mental health at work is the first and most important step. It is also a legal requirement.
As an employer, you have the power to create a positive, supportive, and inclusive workplace and to develop safe systems of work for supporting mental health.
The Workwell Toolkit is a tailored, free online resource. Your business can sign up and explore your custom dashboard with case studies, videos, and other useful resources that you can begin to action straightaway with your team. It uses a step-by-step approach and allows you to track each action then share the progress with your colleagues. The topics include role clarity, leadership, change management and so many more. Creating a safe and mentally healthy workplace is good for your employees and your business.
For further information - https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/workwell