Skip to content

Why Enhancing the Psychosocial Health of Employees is Important

Managing psychosocial hazards and psychosocial risks is all the rage, but have you heard of psychosocial health? Find out how organisations can stop being reactive to psychosocial hazards and risks and start being proactive in promoting psychosocial health.

What is Psychosocial Health?

Psychosocial health refers to the state of well-being that encompasses both psychological and social aspects of a person's life. It is the integration of psychological factors, such as thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, with social factors, including relationships, cultural context, and societal influences.

Psychosocial health recognizes the dynamic interplay between an individual's mental and emotional well-being and their social interactions and environment.

Our social interactions and environment aren’t just made up from our personal lives but our work lives too. Work therefore plays a huge role in our psychosocial health.

Factors in the workplace that contribute to our psychosocial health include:

  • The balance of job demands with job resources
  • Access to training, resources and support to do our job
  • Clarity over the requirements of our role and other roles
  • Control over aspects of our work such as how and when a task is done
  • Positive relationships with peers, managers and customers
  • Fair application of policies and procedures
  • The existence of recognition and reward
  • A positive working environment that enables us to complete our tasks
  • Access to information and resources whilst engaging in isolated work
  • No or low exposure to violence or traumatic events
  • An absence of bullying, discrimination, or harassment
  • Good change management

Importance of Psychosocial Health Support

A person with good psychosocial health is likely to have positive self-esteem, emotional resilience, effective coping mechanisms, and healthy relationships. They can maintain a sense of wellbeing, adapt to life's challenges, and manage stress. Additionally, they possess strong interpersonal skills, exhibit empathy and compassion, and actively engage with their social environment.

There can be huge financial costs to organisations if employees have poor psychosocial health. Organisations face costs associated with presenteeism, absenteeism, reduced productivity, poor culture, workplace injuries and high turnover rates. The latest changes in legislation related to psychosocial hazards also poses costs associated with legal action taken by employees that are made to work in psychologically unsafe environments.

Employers, leaders and managers play a crucial role in creating psychosocially healthy workplaces and in eliminating or minimising psychosocial risks in the workplace.

How Employers Can Support Employee Psychosocial Health

There is a wide range of initiatives that employers can introduce into the workplace to help support their employees’ psychosocial health. Our recent workshop at the Australian Institute of Health and Safety 2023 Conference highlighted best practice when it comes to psychosocial hazards prevention and management, and psychosocial health promotion.

One of the strongest themes that emerged in the conference, was organisations tendencies to be reactive to psychosocial hazards, rather than proactive in promoting psychosocial health. Organisations need not wait until staff are unwell, checked out or have left the organisation to take action. Here’s a few actions that you can take now to promote the psychosocial health of your organisation:

Psychosocial Health Management:

Show your employees that their psychosocial health matters by developing and implementing a psychosocial health management plan. It's about going beyond hazard management and having a plan in place of how you are going to assess, and continuously improve the psychosocial health of your people.

Policies and Procedures

Lay down the law when it comes to psychosocial health in your workplace. Make sure your policies and procedures reflect a commitment to ensuring a psychologically and socially healthy work environment. Ensure there are clear pathways for staff to suggest improvements to policies and procedures or to raise concerns.

Recruitment and Selection Processes

Find the right fit for your team by considering psychosocial health during recruitment and selection. Look beyond qualifications and assess candidates' resilience, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills. Hiring individuals who can handle the job demands and work well with others creates a positive and harmonious work environment.

People Management Systems

Empower your managers to be people champions. Encourage regular communication, feedback, and recognition. Provide opportunities for professional development and establish mentorship programs. When supervisors build strong relationships with their team members, it cultivates a supportive environment that boosts psychosocial health and job satisfaction. 

Good Job Design

It's time to craft jobs that inspire and energize your employees. Make them meaningful, challenging, and aligned with individual skills and interests. Involve your team in decision-making processes, provide growth opportunities, and ensure a manageable workload. By doing so, you foster a sense of purpose and fulfillment, directly impacting their psychosocial health. 

Culture and Climate Reviews

Take the temperature of your workplace regularly by conducting culture and climate reviews. Seek feedback through surveys, focus groups, or other methods. This way, you can identify any psychosocial health issues and make necessary improvements. Nurture a culture of respect, trust, and support that encourages everyone to thrive.       

Wellbeing Checks

Show your employees you care by conducting regular wellbeing checks. Use confidential surveys or have one-on-one conversations to gauge stress levels, work-life balance, and overall satisfaction. Take proactive steps to address any concerns raised. By prioritizing their psychosocial well-being, you create a workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.

Flexible Working Arrangements

Break free from the traditional 9-to-5 routine and offer flexible working arrangements. Allow remote work options, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks. This empowers employees to better manage their personal and work responsibilities, resulting in reduced stress, improved work-life balance, and increased happiness on the job.

Offer Job Security

Workforce casualisation has increased over the last decade. Casual and contract positions can translate into less job security and more stress. Offering permanent positions over casual roles allow staff members to worry less about having work and how to meet financial commitments.

Opportunities to Socialise

When employees set time to socialise outside the workplace, they’re more likely to get to know their colleagues on a personal level. Having a regular lunches or other forms of social catchups gives employees something to look forward to and encourages social interaction. 

Personal & Professional Development

Personal and professional development empowers individuals to expand their skills, knowledge, and capabilities, fostering a sense of personal growth and achievement. It encourages continuous learning and adaptation, enhancing resilience and the ability to cope with challenges in the workplace.  

Have Mental Health Providers

Having an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and constantly promoting the service to staff can break down mental health stigmas and encourage staff to reach out earlier when they need help. Offering wellbeing programs that cover mental, physical, and social aspects can benefit the staff members. Wellbeing and health coaching can encourage employees to set goals and be active learners and self-managers.      

Peer Support Networks and Mental health champions

Organisations can provide training to some employees who want to act as mental health champions. The champions improve awareness and act as a connector between the employer and employees regarding mental health issues.       

Manager Training

It’s important for managers to feel confident about promoting psychosocial health, managing psychosocial risks and talking to staff members about their mental health. Providing training to managers or supervisors who would like to know more about psychosocial health and mental health and communicating with workers can be highly beneficial.   

Model Healthy Work Habits

Workforce casualisation has increased over the last decade. Casual and contract positions can translate into less job security and more stress. Offering permanent positions over casual roles allow staff members to worry less about having work and how to meet financial commitments.

It’s not enough for management to say they support psychosocial health. Managers need to walk the talk for staff to feel they can take advantage of the available support. If the organisation offers wellbeing days, managers should take them and encourage staff to do the same. Managers shouldn’t be working until late on a regular basis because it sends a message to the staff members that they need to do it too. Being a supportive manager and understanding their workers’ needs can help break down the stigma and discrimination around mental health illness.   

There are a number of ways that organisations can implement initiatives to help provide psychosocial support to employees. From psychosocial risk assessments, organisational development, specialist recruitment, culture and climate reviews, psychological wellbeing checks and employee assistance programs to training and development and wellbeing coaching, Altius Group offers a number of services that can help to boost the psychosocial health of employees. Contact us online or call 1800 258 487 for more information. 

Let's overcome your health challenges