A recently released report by Safe Work Australia, The Australian Workplace Barometer: Report on psychosocial safety climate and worker health in Australia, identified that
“depression costs Australian employers approximately AUD$8 billion per annum as a result of sickness absence and presenteeism and AUD$693 million per annum of this is due to job strain and bullying.”
The report claims that psychological injury claims have been on the increase and now incur the largest proportion of cost of worker compensation claims. Levels of bullying were measured higher than international rates and together with harassment affect employee engagement. Australia’s workforce is only 37 per cent fully engaged and yet, engaged employees help organisations reduce their direct and indirect recruitment costs.
A high risk psychological safety climate (PSC) caused by work-family conflict, work pressure, emotional demands and bullying and harassment, could be contravened by allocating sufficient resources to allow for justice, social support, organisational rewards and support for decision making freedom. The report suggests that by increasing PSC by 10 per cent a 6 per cent rise in engagement could be achieved, making workers not just more productive by reducing sickness and presenteeism, but also increasing the commitment to the organisation reducing recruitment and staff turnover costs.
Psychological safety falls within the scope of organisational culture which in terms is driven by people, particularly management and appropriate leadership, which I will discuss in my next blog.