Manager training that provides comprehensive guidance to curtail psychosocial hazards.
There are currently three and soon to be four generations of humanity all working in the same workplace at the same time. This is unprecedented in our modern history. This means many workplace problems we face today have never been faced before. Each generation has a different way of thinking about, approaching and doing their work. Throw in a financial crisis and a global pandemic for good measure and what you have is an increase in identifiable workplace psychosocial hazards.
These are anything that has the potential to negatively impact on the mental wellbeing of staff in your workplace like stress, fatigue, bullying, violence, aggression, harassment, and burnout.
New legislation passed in 2022 for NSW and harmonised across Australia in 2023 has now made it incumbent upon businesses to “take all reasonably practicable measures to prevent workplace psychosocial hazards”.
Properly trained managers know how to reduce psychosocial hazards in the workplace. Now more than ever they represent a tangible positive financial return on your training dollar.
The Safe Work Australia Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work: Code of Practice, outlines the risk management requirements for an organisation to be compliant with training programs falling within the Control Risks requirement.
The way workers interact with each other and other persons in the workplace, their behaviour and relationships can introduce psychosocial hazards. However, supportive leadership, positive relationships and professional and respectful interactions can help to minimise a range of psychosocial hazards. Leaders demonstrating poor behaviour are likely to contribute to poor organisational psychosocial culture.
*Managers represented the greatest increase in psychosocial injury claims across the last decade!
*Public Administration and Administration Support roles accounted for 15,845 serious claims in 2021, representing a possible $870M in serious injury claims. Managers need better skills, knowledge and practical experience in dealing with workplace stressors in order to prevent workplace psychosocial injury.
The Code of Practice identifies the following ways an organisation may choose to minimise the risks by changing:
You can fully expect to see a reduction in lost work time from absenteeism and an overall cost saving to operational budgets. Your people can fully expect to effectively identify and manage psychosocial hazards in your workplace.
All you’ve got to do is take some time out of your day to meet with us. We guarantee you two things:
* No real names are used
Chris was the manager of an IT team in a government agency. With over 600 staff’ daily technology issues to address, the IT team were always under pressure to deliver. As is common in workplaces, one team member Jack was seen to be under-performing. Chris was too scared to manage Jack though. Based on previous interactions, Chris felt that as soon as he would start the conversation with Jack about his performance, Jack would accuse him of bullying. Therefore, Chris tried to ignore Jack’s performance issues and Jack was allowed to continue to under-perform. The result of course was the rest of the team had to pick up the slack.
The increased workload on the staff increased stress among the team. Some saw the situation as wholly unfair. They decided to ‘take action’ and requested a meeting with Chris to speak about his poor management of the situation and how it was impacting on the rest of the team.
“How am I supposed to do anything about it!” Chris yelled at them.
Chris was also experiencing stress in the situation as he knew that things were unfair. He could see the team pulling more than their fair share and felt helpless in the situation due to a lack of effective manager training and his own feelings of overwhelm. Chris was operating from a position of self-protection in not wanting to be accused by Jack of bullying. Chris was finding the role of managing staff all too hard on top of his ‘paid work’ and soon Chris went on sick leave. He just needed a break! Chris was away from the workplace for a couple of weeks which ended up being six weeks (he just couldn’t face going back there) – doctor’s orders, to deal with the stress.
Feeling like they had been abandoned, the team turned on Jack and increasingly isolated him in the workplace. The Acting Manager deliberately didn’t give him work and soon rumours began to circulate about how ‘useless and lazy’ Jack was.
When Chris returned to work, he spoke with his director about having Jack moved to another position in the organisation as ‘he was the cause of Chris’ stress’. Because other managers had heard how ‘useless and lazy’ Jack was, none of them wanted Jack in their teams.
Because Jack was now experiencing the feelings of isolation and uselessness in his workplace, he went on sick leave – doctor’s orders to deal with the stress. He never came back, but he did lodge a worker’s compensation claim.
Present in this situation were a range of psychosocial hazards that contributed to the poor performance of Chris and Jack all of which resulted in the harmful behaviour, such as:
The outcome for this agency was:
The impact to the rest of the staff is an incalculable cost, but it is likely to equal the payouts Jack and Chris received.
Managing unsatisfactory performance or poor behaviour is a necessary part of managing staff and managers should not feel ‘scared’ to do this part of their job. Properly conducted management actions are necessary to prevent or control psychosocial hazards. It is worth remembering that poor performance may be the result of multiple factors, including psychosocial hazards.
There were many things that could have been put in place to prevent this situation from occurring.
Beyond IQ was engaged to work with this team after the events to prevent future similar situations. We will do the same for your organisation.
Find out what could cause harm
Understand the nature of the harm the hazard could cause. how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening.
Implement the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable in the circumstances and ensure they remain effective over time. This means:
Ensure they are working as planned and make changes as required.
All of these steps must be supported by consultation.
We’ve heard it said that nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something, so do ‘your something’ today.