Benefits

  • Facilitates evidence-based practice for creating a mentally healthy workplace
  • Supports sustainable and effective bullying and stress prevention
  • Enhances compliance with the duty of care under Australian work health and safety legislation to provide a safe
    working environment and systems of work

Background

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.

Technology

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:

  • Enables organisations to identify and reduce the organisational risk factors for workplace bullying and strain, thereby supporting sustainable and effective bullying and stress prevention.
  • Enhances compliance with work health and safety legislation to provide a safe working environment by managing psychosocial hazards.

Potential applications

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.

Opportunities

UniSA Ventures is seeking direct customers of the workplace bullying tool and research partnering to develop new tools.