How to reduce the risk of ‘psychological injury’

by John Hilton10 Oct 2016
Employers are becoming increasingly concerned about mental health issues in the workplace, according to a study released this year by MinterElllison. 

The research found that 56% of organisations surveyed reported a year-to-year increase in the number of mental health cases at work.

Even though offering mental health support through employee assistance programs is still common, employers are moving towards a risk-based approach to managing ‘psychological injury’, said Aaron Anderson, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright.

“This involves gaining an understanding of what workplace factors may give rise to the risk of psychological injury and implementing preventative measures to seek to manage the risks,” said Anderson.

These preventative measures include training mental health first aid officers who can assist in early intervention, adopting a zero tolerance approach to workplace bullying and providing a flexible work environment.

Sue Horlin, managing partner, human capital, at PwC Australia, said their company is undertaking initiatives such as sharing personal to reduce stigma, and educating people on the signs and symptoms of mental illness.

PwC are also promoting mindfulness to manage stress and anxiety, while encouraging inclusive leadership and teams.

It’s also important to recognise that change leads to uncertainty and if managed poorly it can create unnecessary stress for employees, said Rachel Wells, general manager – people & performance at Certus Solutions ANZ.

This then impacts on their productivity and engagement, resulting in illness and increased turnover.

“Building a resilient workforce that is ‘change ready’ results from utilising a people-centric systems approach to manage and lead change,” said Wells.

“At Certus we use tools such as ‘change resistance mapping’, a technique using personas to anticipate potential concerns and minimising their impact head-on.

“Creating a thriving culture with exceptional leadership where people feel comfortable to ask for help is the essential first step.”

Related stories:

Three steps to a mentally healthy workplace

Striking the right work-life balance

Report reveals extent of senior executive discontent

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