The future of psychosocial health and safety

Saturday, 01 June 2024


    Every director is now on notice when it comes to managing psychosocial hazards within their businesses, says Foremind CEO Joel Anderson. 

    Presented by Foremind

    Many businesses are spending more on mental health than ever. Yet headlines such as “Deadly Work Culture” show up with alarming frequency, highlighting a clear gap between what businesses invest in, and what works.

    Mental health compensation claims are forecast to triple in the next seven years. In April 2023, changes to Commonwealth WHS laws were introduced. These regulations prescribe how company duty holders, including directors, must identify and manage psychosocial risks and hazards.

    A psychosocial hazard is anything that could cause psychological harm — from excessive workloads and a lack of support, to bullying and harassment. We refer to these as “invisible hazards”. Left unmanaged, they can have severe consequences.

    Many costly workplace mental health programs miss the mark by focusing solely on an individual’s experience of wellbeing, without addressing the systemic elements of psychosocial health and safety within a business. These programs are an excellent

    first step at stigma reduction, but some fail to take in the bigger picture to ensure compliance requirements are being met.

    The current challenge lies in the identification and analysis of invisible hazards within teams and broader cultures. Psychosocial hazard reporting platforms can sometimes cause employers to fear that if their employees voice concerns, it could open a Pandora’s box. We believe that fear is misplaced. Formal reporting mechanisms are the “table stakes” for operating in the current regulatory environment and provide useful channels for employee feedback.

    “Compliance and mental health do not exist in a vacuum,” says Foremind psychosocial health and safety director Louise Thompson.

    Outside of more formal reporting mechanisms, a key determinant of identifying invisible hazards comes down to the inherent psychosocial safety climate (PSC) of your organisation. PSC is defined as, “the shared belief held by workers that their psychological safety and wellbeing is protected and supported by senior management”. The healthier the PSC, the more likely it is workers will feel safe to speak up without the fear of punishment
    — and to believe things will improve and will be taken seriously if reported.

    Knowledge is power. If you know about risks, you can control them. Foremind has developed a unique approach that provides an integrated psychosocial safety solution, global safety culture surveys, incident management system, training and proactive mental health support all in the one place.

    Invest in the creation of a psychologically safe workplace today and you will reap the rewards tomorrow.

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