What’s the deal with all this “Psychosocial Health” stuff?
Firstly, that’s a great question!
The answer lies (sort of) in the name… psychosocial. What it’s talking about is the mental health and wellbeing of employees while at work.
Why should you care?
Another good question! The short answer is, because the law now says you have to. The more appropriate answer is because as an organisation, looking after people should be a priority. Protecting people from bullying, sexual harassment and the like should be what we do, right?
Of course! If nothing else (and there’s plenty else) looking after people’s mental health decreases turnover, improves morale and culture, improves sick leave, improves productivity, decreases complaints.
In today’s fast-paced and competitive work environment, prioritising the well-being of employees is more important than ever. One critical aspect of employee well-being is their psychosocial health, which encompasses the interplay between psychological and social factors in the workplace. In Australia, recognizing and effectively managing psychosocial risks has become crucial for organisations aiming to create healthy and thriving work environments.
Understanding Psychosocial Risks
Psychosocial risks refer to the interactions between work-related factors and their impact on employees’ psychological and social well-being. These risks can stem from various sources such as excessive workloads, lack of control, poor communication, bullying, harassment, and inadequate support systems. Left unaddressed, these risks can lead to adverse effects on employees’ mental health, job satisfaction, and overall productivity, ultimately affecting the organisation’s success.
The Impact of Psychosocial Health
Promoting psychosocial health in the workplace is not only a moral responsibility but also a smart business strategy. Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between employee well-being and organisational performance. When employees feel psychologically and socially supported, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and productive. Conversely, a neglectful approach to psychosocial health can result in higher absenteeism rates, increased turnover, decreased productivity, and potential legal issues. Therefore, investing in the well-being of employees has a direct positive impact on the bottom line.
Training Supervisors and Managers
Supervisors and managers play a pivotal (probably the most important) role in creating and maintaining a healthy work environment. They are in a unique position to identify psychosocial risks, intervene, and facilitate positive change. To effectively address psychosocial risks, it is essential to provide comprehensive training to supervisors and managers. This training should focus on three key areas: hazard identification, workplace behaviours, and having difficult conversations.
Hazard Identification: Supervisors and managers should be equipped with the skills to identify psychosocial risks in the workplace. This involves understanding the potential sources of stress, recognising signs of employee distress, and assessing the impact on individual and team performance. By proactively identifying hazards, supervisors can implement preventive measures and create strategies to mitigate risks before they escalate.
Workplace Behaviours: Promoting positive workplace behaviours is crucial for fostering a healthy psychosocial environment. Training should emphasise the importance of respectful communication, teamwork, and inclusivity. When employees feel valued, respected, and heard, it enhances their well-being and strengthens the overall work culture. Supervisors should lead by example and set clear expectations for behaviour, ensuring that all employees adhere to respectful and supportive practices.
Having Difficult Conversations: Addressing psychosocial risks often requires having challenging conversations with employees. These conversations may involve discussing personal issues, performance concerns, conduct or conflicts. Training supervisors and managers in effective communication and active listening skills enables them to approach these conversations with empathy and professionalism. By creating a safe and supportive space for dialogue, supervisors can help identify underlying issues and provide appropriate support or referrals to specialised resources.
All organisations have a responsibility to minimize risks associated with bullying and sexual harassment. Lots of previously normalised behaviour in workplaces are no longer acceptable. Addressing these areas through effective training, organisational changes in culture and awareness go a long way towards minimising risks.
The Professional Investigators College of Australia (PICA) has a range of training and development options to assist in minimising risk psychologically. Learn more HERE.