The safety and wellbeing of employees should be a top priority for all organisations, especially now as mental health issues are on the rise.
According to Safe Work Australia, mental health issues accounted for 9% of all significant workers' compensation claims in 2020–21, a 55.6% increase from 2016–17. Every workplace has hazards, and one of the least well-known types, psychosocial hazards, can have a devastating impact.
Organisations must ensure employees are safe from psychosocial hazards that can have an impact on their health and wellbeing. Keeping employees safe also has benefits for the organisation as employees are more likely to be productive with less employee turnover.
The Impact of Psychosocial Hazards
1. Psychological Harm
2. Physical Harm
Psychosocial hazards can also hurt an organisation’s bottom line by seeing decreases in productivity and morale, and high turnovers.
3. Decrease in Productivity
4. High Staff Turnover
Identifying Psychosocial Hazards
1. Bullying and harassment
2. Remote and isolated work
In a workforce that’s moving towards more of a hybrid or permanently remote situation, it’s important to check in with your remote employees and create new ways for them to feel connected to the wider organisation.
3. Violence or traumatic events
4. Work Overload
5. Low job control/clarity and poor managerial support
6. Poor physical environment
- Outbursts of anger
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- A loss of interest in activities the worker previously enjoyed
- Feeling guilty or hopeless
- Poor work performance
- Physical symptoms of headache or stomach pain
Best Practices for Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work
An organisation can reduce its employee’s risk of psychosocial hazards by taking proactive action to prevent it from occurring and intervening early when it’s identified as a problem.
Employees within an organisation may not be proactive in reporting psychosocial hazards, but they may be willing to report them when asked. Managers are encouraged to have regular one-on-one meetings with their team members to allow employees to open up within a safe space, allowing them to say they can’t cope with the excessive workload or if there are any other stressors in their day-to-day.
Seeking a professional who can review company information about injuries, resourcing, absenteeism, isolated workers, turnover, and previous psychosocial risk assessments may help recommend strategies for preventing psychosocial risks.
A psychosocial risk assessment can help determine how severe risks are and what action should be taken to manage the risks. Only after psychosocial hazards are identified can the organisation work on eliminating or minimising the risks. Best practices include recording the risk management process and outcomes so that the organisation can demonstrate that they have met their health and safety obligations.
Altius Group's Approach to Managing Psychosocial Hazards
However, it can be difficult for a manager or HR worker to identify psychological hazards, let alone manage them. Engaging a professional organisation like Altius Group reduces the pressure on internal staff to manage hazards that require more experience, time, and effort to deal with.
Altius Group helps organisations by conducting an assessment that is focused on identifying and evaluating psychological hazards and risks and making recommendations for continual improvements.