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New workplace psychological safety and wellbeing research shines a spotlight on Australian businesses

A Swinburne University of Technology and Readiness study has uncovered which industries are meeting the legal requirements to provide a psychologically safe workplace and those that have prompted experts to raise the alarm.

By Harriet Edmund

 

A first-of-its-kind Australian study shows how businesses are addressing psychological safety and wellbeing – with some organisations and industries doing exceedingly better than others.

At a time when prioritising employee mental health and wellbeing has never been so important as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the results raise some alarming insights into a widespread lack of awareness about legal requirements to protect workers from psychological risks.

The new study titled, Organisational Practices for Wellbeing: How is Australia doing? has prompted experts to urge Australian business leaders to step up psychological safety measures in their workplaces.

Commissioned by Readiness and undertaken by our key research partner, Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Mental Health and Centre for Transformative Innovation, the study was undertaken in August 2021.

Published in November 2021, the study explores how businesses rate in terms of:

  • Awareness of legislation;
  • Comparison with physical safety; and
  • Policies, practices and systems implemented to promote and address psychological wellbeing in the workplace.


Understanding your workplace psychological safety obligations: how does your industry rate?

The alarming findings showed only 48 per cent of business leaders, including CEOs and organisation heads, were aware of their legal obligation to ensure the physical and psychological health of all employees. Furthermore, 33 per cent of HR professionals weren’t aware of the legislation with that number increasing to 48 per cent when the organisation didn’t have a formal HR department. This leaves a large portion that are ignorant of the Work Health and Safety Act (2011) requirements.


Sectors with the highest proportion of legislative awareness across all employees:

  1. Manufacturing (49.3% aware)
  2. Construction (46.7% aware)
  3. Transport, postal and warehousing (46% aware)

Sectors with the lowest proportion of legislative awareness across all employees:

  1. Wholesale and retail trade (75.2% not aware)
  2. Financial services (75% not aware)
  3. Administrative and supportive services & public administration (65.6% not aware)


“These results are a wake-up call for business owners across Australia,” says Associate Professor Eva Kyndt, study lead author and an internationally recognised expert in human resource management and development.

“The results also showed which industries are failing to provide employees with access to any wellbeing services, as well as differing perceptions between employees and senior staff about what organisations do to address both physical safety and psychological wellbeing.”

Paul Francis, Readiness Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, adds: “We hope these findings lead to a greater awareness of the laws but, more importantly, also encourage businesses to create an environment where employees flourish, which in turn leads to better job satisfaction and overall business performance.”

“Readiness is well placed to support businesses – regardless of size and sector – on taking this necessary, proactive approach to workplace wellbeing.”


How does your business stack up for workplace psychological wellbeing?


The full results are available Psychological Wellbeing in the Workplace e-bookin our eBook: Psychological Wellbeing Practices: How does your business stack up?  


Find out which industries are leading the way for physical safety culture, psychological wellbeing culture; and psychological wellbeing systems. Plus, the steps business owners and HR managers can take to meet legal obligations – and match it with industry leaders. Click here to download it.


To learn more about how Readiness can support the psychological wellbeing of your employees, click here or contact us.