Across Australia, 9.7% of employeesexperience serious workplace bullying; this has significant negative mental health impacts for workers. According to the Productivity Commission, the estimated cost of bullying at work to the Australian economy is up to $36 billion each year.
There is a gap between research and practice for workplace bullying prevention: research studies highlight aspects of the work environment as key contributing factors, but common anti-bullying strategies place responsibility on individual employees to behave well and report bullying when anti-bullying procedures fail.
Rather than focussing on bullying behaviour – the tip of the iceberg – effective bullying prevention must target the underlying organisational risk factors. Practical tools are required to help organisations provide safe working conditions free of bullying, as required by work health and safety law.
We have developed a risk audit tool that enables an organisation-centric approach towards preventing bullying at work, and promoting workplace mental health more broadly. Such an approach addresses the risks for staff bullying and mental health problems within the organisational system itself – risks arising from organisational structures, policies, procedures, and processes.
Specifically, the risk audit tool:
The web tool can be used for prevention of bullying, compliance with WHS legislation, risk management of psychosocial hazards, benchmarking bullying risk against the sector, and informing responses to bullying complaints.
This tool will be beneficial for large commercial businesses, Government departments, national and state WHS regulators, unions, and other employee associations.
UniSA Ventures is seeking direct customers of the workplace bullying tool and research partnering to develop new tools.