A new tool to help employers understand and improve their workers’ mental health and wellbeing is now available to Ai Group members. 

The Ai Group online survey is tailor-made for each workplace and carried out independently, making it more likely employees will take part and speak up.  

“Now people are returning to the workplace after working remotely, it’s important that employers understand how their people are feeling, and supporting themselves,” Trinette Jaeschke, Ai Group’s National Manager – Work Health Safety Consulting Services, said. 

“Many states are releasing their psycho-social/psychological health codes of practice. WA released theirs last week and the other states have been working on psychological health and safety as part of the safety gamut. 

“What we wanted to do was to not only focus on the psychological aspect of safety but broaden it so we can look at health and wellbeing, as well.” 

The initial survey is only the start. 

“As well as exploring psycho-social risks around the workplace, the survey delves in deep with individuals,” Ms Jaeschke said. 

“What is their health and wellbeing like, personally? What changes at work might influence their mental health? 

“There have been many workplace changes since COVID-19, such as ongoing working from home arrangements, as well as organisational changes like restructurings. 

“All those factors influence the way employees feel about their employer.  

“The survey will identify the key areas a member will need to focus on and enable the business to plan their health and wellbeing programs for the next 12 months.” 

There is growing recognition the workplace has an impact on people’s mental health. 

“When you look at the safety legislation across all states, the legislation refers to any area where you have injury, illness or disease,” Ms Jaeschke said.  

“Psychological health never used to be a key focus in the safety realm, but it is heightened now, with new codes of practice and other standards which have been introduced to support workers.” 

The personalisation of the survey makes the tool incredibly valuable.  

“When it comes to health and wellbeing issues, many employers tend to go straight to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), but they are not necessarily tailored to the business,” Ms Jaeschke said. 

“EAPs tend to be generic. They might offer counselling, health or nutrition tips, but the people who really need support don’t always put their hand up and join those programs. 

“We tailor our program to what each member needs. The survey is just a ‘skeleton’ for us to be able to evolve and use, based on what members need. 

“It tailors what their outcomes are. It is very outcomes focused.  

“The first point of call is our team to chat to the HR manager — or whoever is going to lead the process — and we have that in-depth discussion to establish what they want to get out of it.  This helps us to establish a survey which has the member’s needs in mind. 

“The next step is helping the business to promote the survey within their workplace. We can help develop QR codes so they can promote the survey. We provide example posters they can use in the workplace. 

“Then their employees complete the online survey. It is totally confidential. Our team reviews the results to establish where the business sits, and this helps us to identify specific questions we can delve deeper into in our one-on-one interviews, based on the results.  

“We randomly select a sample of about 10 employees within the workplace and have a day of in-depth interviews to get a feel of what is really happening with the organisation. 

“It’s usually during this phase we can identify business issues if there are any. 

“Finally, we provide the business with a report around recommendations for improvement so they can tailor their health and wellbeing programs specifically to their workplace.” 

The survey has retention benefits for employers. 

“Not only will it help to improve health and wellbeing, but it will also boost employee morale and retention,” Ms Jaeschke said. 

“If a business ignores mental health risks and workers feel like their employer doesn't care, the business is going to find it difficult to retain staff. 

“They could face having to pay for a costly recruitment campaign to get new talent. 

“It’s also a wonderful tool from a recruitment perspective to show you’re actively doing something about mental health.” 

Failing to address workers’ health and wellbeing can have alarming effects. 

“There has been a huge increase in worker’s compensation claims around mental health,” Ms Jaeschke said. 

“These are one of the most expensive premium-affecting claims that a business can have which really impacts worker’s compensation and their premiums. 

“That has been a key factor in prompting people to act now." 

An Allianz report in September last year showed psychological claims have jumped by 5% in the last financial year with an average cost of psychological damage being 3.5 times higher than physical injuries.

“There are many benefits for members having this survey in place, plus it's a must have for compliance. You need to address your psycho-social risks,” Ms Jaeschke said.

 

Click here to find out more, contact our WHS Consulting team directly at safety.services@aigroup.com.au or phone our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77. 

  

Wendy Larter

Wendy Larter is the Senior Content Writer at Ai Group. She is a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.