Ways of working
When workplaces have clear mental health approaches – sometimes called policies, processes or strategies – everyone can make better choices to protect workers’ health and safety and keep a business running well.
Communicating your approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing at work and having policies and ways of working to achieve this are important for any business. These:
- show your workers that you are committed to providing a healthy and safe work environment
- make it possible for everyone to work together towards shared goals
- communicate the ‘how to’ get there
- outline clear expectations and responsibilities for everyone’s benefit
- set you up for success, allow you to measure progress toward your goals and make improvements.
Employers have a legal obligation to provide healthy and safe workplaces. Read more about how to meet your duties.
Workplaces also have a huge opportunity to improve their bottom-line through implementing a clear and effective mental approach to mental health at work.
Over 90% of Australians say workplace mental health is important - only 52% consider their workplace mentally healthy1.
Design work to support mental health
Good work design is about creating jobs, work processes and environments that are healthy, safe and productive. It's about managers using strategies to prevent or reduce the impact of factors on worker mental health by using appropriate actions and tailoring jobs to be more manageable and better resourced. Examples include:
- monitoring workload
- clear job descriptions
- reasonable work adjustments to support recovery at work.
To learn how to design work to support mental health read 10 principles of good work design2 or watch this Safe Work Australia webinar with Professor Sharon Parker.
Take small steps for mental health
Taking small steps every day can make a big difference. Take action to ensure workers have clear job descriptions for role clarity, monitor workloads to ease stress, and create a positive and inclusive culture with worker participation in goal setting. Easy actions like these can make your workplace more mentally healthy.
Here are some strategies to support mental health across your organisation:
- create and share a clear vision for worker health and wellbeing
- implement a mental health strategy
- use evidence including organisation and team data to inform mental health strategies, policies and processes
- set targets and metrics to measure progress and inform improvements
- consult workers to identify risks or factors and to raise actions where possible
- create processes to support good work design, a positive and inclusive workplace culture and to stop bullying.
There are also some simple ways to create and update existing frameworks to achieve and sustain a mentally healthy workplace. Use our policy templates as a guide to establish better ways of supporting mental health in your organisation.
We have a mental health strategy, what next?
Take the free People at Work survey to see how mentally healthy your workplace is right now and what else you could do to make further improvements! This survey is suitable for workplaces with 20 or more workers.
You can also find out how collaboration and mentoring help create a mentally healthy workplace.
- TNS & beyondblue, State of workplace mental health in Australia, 2014
- Safe Work Australia, Principles of good work design: a work health and safety handbook, 2015
- Safe Work Australia & the University of South Australia, The Australian workplace barometer: report on psychosocial safety climate and worker health in Australia