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Workloads are affecting Australian workers

2 min read

Two years on from a world-first study into workplace psychological safety, results announced today by R U OK? show organisations can be doing more to ensure colleagues feel connected.

The 2019 Australian Workplace Psychological Safety Survey surveyed 1,093 Australian employees and found that just under a quarter (23%) do not currently do any activities to connect them with colleagues. One of the biggest barriers found was not having time due to workload.

This is concerning considering leading suicidologist Dr Thomas Joiner’s work, which describes a lack of connection (or lack of belonging) as one of the three forces at play in someone at risk of suicide.

Workplace mental wellness expert and R U OK? Board Member Graeme Cowan is calling on workplaces to address this, pointing to both the social and economic benefits to organisations when a workforce feels connected and psychologically safe.

“A ‘psychologically safe’ workplace is characterised by a climate of interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people feel comfortable being themselves and to ask for help,” said Cowan.

“Organisational workload will always be a barrier, however those who create opportunities for employee connection such as morning teas or celebrations for birthdays foster a positive culture”

“While there are benefits to individuals and a duty of care from organisations, psychologically safe teams have also been shown to be the most innovative – and in a worrying development, only 28% of respondents said they felt safe to take a risk in 2019 compared to 34% in 2017.

“Today’s results demonstrate more needs to be done to educate organisations on these benefits, to ensure all Australians are seeing the rewards of psychologically safe workplaces.”

These results will be announced at R U OK?’s annual Conversational Leadership event in Melbourne, which will bring together 100 managers for a practical workshop on building an R U OK? culture in the workplace.

Organisations in attendance will include: AB Group, Audi, Australia Post, British High Commission, Flight Centre, Hoyts, IAG, Mental Health First Aid Australia, MTAA Super, University of Melbourne,
QBE and Yellow.

In addition to interactive demonstrations and take away resources, the event will feature case studies from Woolworths, Connor Menswear and Metro and Sydney Trains, diverse organisations who have successfully applied this cultural change.

Attendees will hear from Kevin Figueiredo, General Manager – Woolworths Group Safety, Health and Wellbeing regarding the mental health training Woolworths is currently rolling out nationwide.

“As Australia’s largest employer, the mental health of our team members is our number one
safety, health and wellbeing priority,” said Figueiredo.

“In the past 12 months we have introduced new mental health programs and trained 16,000 team members across the Group with the skills and knowledge to help peers showing signs of mental health issues.

“We recognise mental health is not just an issue for our teams but also friends and families, and we are committed to continuing to support innovative programs like R U OK? to keep these important conversations going.”

The Australian Psychological Safety Survey is the result of a collaboration between R U OK? and Amy Edmondson, the pre-eminent global thought leader on psychological safety and Novartis Professor of Leadership & Management at the Harvard Business School.

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