New research available on workplace mental health in Australia

Safe Work Australia has published two new research reports presenting findings on the prevalence of workplace bullying and harassment; and the impact of poor mental health in the workplace on organisational productivity.

The Psychosocial Safety Climate and Better Productivity in Australian Workplaces: Cost, Productivity, Presenteeism, Absenteesim report suggests that productivity losses associated with low levels of management commitment to psychological health and safety in the workplace comes at an estimated cost to employers of $6 billion per annum.

The Bullying & Harassment in Australian Workplaces: Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer project 2014/2015 report provides information on the prevalence of bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces and notes an increase in the estimated prevalence of workplace bullying from 7% in 2009-10 to 9.7% in 2014-15.

These two reports use data collected from the Australia Workplace Barometer project, a longitudinal study operating since 2009 that observes workplace trends in psychological health.

“This information is important to the development of national policy and guidance to promote improved psychological health in Australian workplaces” said Safe Work Australia Director of Research and Evaluation, Dr Fleur de Crespigny.

“This research is also important because it represents the first ever national collection of information on bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces.”

“It is not clear why there has been an increase in the estimated prevalence of bullying, but it is worth noting the data are based on self-reported bullying and it is possible that growing awareness and recognition of mental health in the workplace, including bullying, has contributed to the increase,” said Dr de Crespigny.

“The findings provide evidence that it is advantageous for employers to commit to improving mental health in the workplace” said Dr de Crespigny.

“It improves business productivity and decreases instances of bullying and harassment in the workplace” she said.

Safe Work Australia contributed funding to this research undertaken by Professor Maureen Dollard from University of South Australia to undertake this research.

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