Practical step by step ideas, tips and suggestions to help employers of different sizes prevent mental injury and create a safe and mentally healthy workplace. Use tools, templates and resources to focus on work-related factors that impact mental health and learn good practice. Check out the full range of topics on the Toolkit.
You're reading the English version of this page. It's available in multiple languages.
If you've completed part one of the introduction – great work! You should now have a clear understanding of mental health and how it's relevant to your role as a business owner or leader.
This final stage of your introduction explains the different factors that are within an employer's control which can influence a workers' ability to thrive in their workplace.
Key stats and facts
Of working Victorians have admitted to leaving a workplace due to a poor environment in terms of mental health
Heads Up (Beyond Blue), Instinct and Reason – Employer of Choice study, 2014
Return on every dollar spent creating a mentally healthy workplace.
PWC, Beyond Blue National Mental Health Commission, 2014
Workplace causes of poor mental health
Certain work-related experiences can negatively impact the mental health of workers. These include:
violence, including family and gendered violence (including sexual harassment)
These can be caused by a number of mental health hazards, also known as psychosocial hazards. Psychosocial hazards can increase the risk of work-related stress and can lead to psychological or physical harm. Workers are likely to be exposed to a combination of psychosocial hazards. Some of these may always be present, while others occur occasionally.
Watch the video for an introduction to work-related factors and psychosocial hazards.
What are work related factors?
The first step is to be able to identify issues or hazards so that you can take steps to manage the risk of harm, and prevent mental injury from occurring.
Below is a list of the common psychosocial hazards that can impact the psychological health of workers.
When an employee has little control over aspects of their work, including how and when a job is done. It’s also when decisions that affect an employee are made without telling the employee or asking for their opinion.
When organisational change (large or small) is poorly managed or not communicated to employees well, it can cause stress and anxiety. Change can include people’s job descriptions changing, downsizing, relocating, and introducing new technology or production processes.
Poor organisational justice is when people are not treated fairly, or there is inconsistency or bias in the workplace. It’s important to be open about how decisions are made – if employees can’t see what’s happening, they can’t know whether or not people are being treated fairly.
People aren’t sure what their responsibilities are or what is expected of them. It can also mean there are conflicting roles or priorities, for example, when employees are told to do different things by different managers, and they are not sure who to listen to.
Unresolved conflict or strained relationships between co-workers or managers can be a significant stressor and lead to mental ill-health. Incivility is one of the biggest causes of poor workplace relationships. Incivility is inappropriate behaviour such as rudeness, sarcasm and belittling or excluding people. This can happen through various mediums eg. spoken or written.
Remote work is work at locations where access to resources and communications is difficult and travel times may be lengthy. Isolated work is where there are no or few other people around and access to help from others, especially in an emergency, may be difficult.
Work-related violent or traumatic events are incidents that can cause fear and distress and involve exposure to abuse, the threat of harm or actual harm. The fear and distress from violent or traumatic events can lead to work-related stress, psychological injury and physical injury
Traumatic events or environments are interpreted by people differently, so there is no way of telling who may or may not be impacted after exposure. Trauma doesn’t just affect the employees who are there at the time, hearing stories about distressing incidents can result in second-hand trauma ('vicarious trauma') for some people.
Working in poor quality and hazardous working environments, such as poor air quality, high noise levels, extreme temperatures or working near unsafe machinery is not only a risk to your employee’s physical health, but also their short and long term mental health.
Benefits of a mentally healthy workplace
Workplaces that proactively address these work-related factors and psychosocial hazards not only keep their workers safe but also see benefits to the business, including:
reduced worker absenteeism
increased productivity, output and engagement
improved workplace reputation – increased attraction, retention and customer base
improved workplace culture
increased return on investment and benefit to your business's bottom-line
The hidden cost of not prioritising a mentally healthy workplace
Research suggests that presenteeism (where an employee remains at work despite experiencing symptoms that result in reduced productivity levels) could be costing your business up to nine working days, per employee, every year.
When it comes to mental health, what's good for people is good for business too. In fact, for every dollar spent on a successful mental health initiative, businesses can expect to see a $2.30 return on investment (PwC 2014).
Visit Heads Up's Return on investment tool and find out how a business like yours might financially benefit from every dollar spent on improving workplace mental health.
Discover the Toolkit and subscribe to WorkWell
WorkWell supports leaders to create safe and mentally healthy workplaces. Access the WorkWell Toolkit for step-by-step tools tailored to your business size, or subscribe to the WorkWell newsletter to stay up to date and receive support direct to your inbox!