01 Jul Towards 2022: Healthy safe and productive working lives
By Jim Kelly
Many of us spend most of our waking lives at work.
Not surprising then, work can have both a positive and negative impact on our lives. What you may not know is that one in six Australian workers are experiencing mental health issues right now and 45% of adults experience mental illness in their lifetime?
We all know we have good and bad days at work, but alarming many of us will experience mental ill health to the point that it impacts on our normal functioning at work and at home.
So, given we spend so much time at work, we need to look at what we do at work and what the workplace can do to positively influence our health and well-being to help us lead safe and productive working lives.
Most of us would acknowledge, work is good for us – it provides an occupation with a sense of meaning and purpose, financial stability and social connection. Every day we bring our whole selves to work and what we do and who we do it with contributes to our physical and mental wellbeing.
Employers have both legal, moral and commercial motivation to provide a healthy and safe workplace, back in 2012, together with Industry, SafeWork NSW set out an ambitious strategy to improve health at work…
The Work Health and Safety Roadmap (Roadmap) for NSW 2022 sets the strategic direction for NSW. The Roadmap’s vision is of healthy safe and productive working lives. It outlines how we all work together to realise this vision with three broad action areas:
- Embed a ‘Health and Safety Landscape’ in all NSW workplaces
- Focus on priority areas – high-risk sectors and high-impact harms including mental health
- SafeWork NSW striving to be an exemplar Regulator
Amongst other priorities the NSW Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy 2018-2022 was developed to assist NSW businesses address workplace mental health.
The aim of the Strategy is to have more than 90,000 NSW businesses taking effective action to create mentally healthy workplaces by 2022.
Unfortunately, nearly 80% of all NSW workplaces we surveyed lacked capability to prevent and manage hazards and psychosocial risks in the workplace. As a result, in support of this strategy the NSW Government made a $55million commitment to improve workplace mental health
Mentally healthy workplaces benefit everyone!
Employers attract and keep great employees, reduce costs, increase productivity and can expect returns of up to four dollars for every dollar they invest in improving mental health. We know employees who feel valued and support are more committed to their organisation and do their best work.
A mentally healthy workplace is a workplace where mental health is everyone’s responsibility. Where supporting mental health is considered in all the ways you do business from your systems, policies, procedures to the kinds of behaviours that are accepted.
The business genuinely consults with the workforce and brings them on the journey to achieve corporate objectives. When a business takes steps to improve, they consider the unique needs of teams or roles in managing change.
A successful leader of a mentally healthy safe and productive workplace will check-in with workers along the way to make sure the actions of the business do not have negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of workers. This enables the business to thrive with everyone performing at their best.
Here’s three ways SafeWork NSW can help you and your business to create a mentally healthier workplace
#1 Jump online, complete our free capability check to determine where you are at and your next steps. Access valuable tools and resources and check eligibility for free programs on offer at www.mentalhealthatwork.nsw.gov.au
#2 Check your eligibility and apply now for free programs for you and your workers, including:
For managers – in just 3 hours, you can get the knowledge, confidence and strategies to support your team’s wellbeing at work with manager training from the Black Dog Institute.
For businesses – In just 4 hours over 6 months, your business can increase productivity by up to 15% with independent, expert WHS advice and a Mental Health Capability Development Plan from Assure Programs.
For everyone – In just 2 hours face-to-face or 45 minutes online, you can learn how to manage your mental health at work with free mental health skills training from the Black Dog Institute.
#3 Attend an event near you. I will be speaking at the NSW Regional Safety Conference on the 4th – 5th July 2019, or you can contact SafeWork NSW on 131050 for more information or assistance to create a mentally healthy workplace.