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How to reduce the risk of ‘psychological injury’ in the workplace

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HC Online | 10 Oct 2016, 10:27 AM Agree 0
We talk to three experts about initiatives to improve mental health in the workplace
  • Bernie Althofer | 10 Oct 2016, 12:37 PM Agree 0
    Organisations may find some advantages in conducting a Bullying Risk Assessment, and whilst it is important to conduct such an assessment, it is just as important to commit to addressing the findings.

    Identifying the root causes that contribute to workplace dysfunction, negative workplace conflict and psychological injuries means that hazards and/or contributing factors need to be assessed. On the surface, individuals may appear as though they are coping or managing to get through the daily expectations being placed on them, when in reality the opposite occurs.

    If managers and workers do not feel as though their concerns are being acknowledged or even addressed, they may suffer in silence which in turns leads to workplace claims. Investing in a Bullying Risk Assessment can lead to discoverying a broad range of issues that impact on the physical, psychological and financial safety of individuals and the organisation.
  • Bernie Althofer | 14 Oct 2016, 10:29 AM Agree 0
    There are extensive publications providing a range of self help options for those involved in workplace bullying. I wrote a book because I was concerned that many of those who had approached me either as a target, as an alleged bully or as a manager/supervisor were not aware that there were a range of questions that they could and should ask, or even why they should ask those questions.

    Whilst some questions might be reasonably basic i.e. "Does the organisation have a workplace bullying policy"'; "Where is this located?" through to more confronting questions such as "Do the behaviours being used against me meet the definition?"

    A question about a specific issue directed towards a target will be different to that directed towards an alleged bully or towards the CEO. For example, if hazards or contributing factors such as negative leadership or even change management create an environment where a worker believes they are being subjected to bullying, it is reasonable to ask a target "Why do you believe you are being targeted?" whereas a question directed towards an alleged bully might be "How do you cope with internal and external pressures created because of the change process?". A question to the CEO could be "What systems and processes in place do you have in place to manage change management?"

    Responses from individuals may have some relationship as to whether or not they are at risk of psychological injury; whether or not they have coping mechanisms; or even whether they are likely to report counterproductive behaviours. Effective questioning and listening may help to identify the causal factors that are contributing feelings of being unsafe in a workplace.

    Whilst it is important to provide educative programs on the prevention, detection, reporting and resolution of bullying, it is equally important to provide managers and workers at all levels with awareness regarding new legislation e.g. anti-bribery and corruption laws, and how that may result in psychological injury to 'whistleblowers' or others inadvertently caught up in some 'suspect' activities.

    Asking questions beginning with the how, what, when, where, who and why is important. It is equally important to understand that the structure of the question is also important and the responses provided may have a negative impact on a diverse range of people.
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