As Queensland’s resource employers navigate challenging market conditions and the wider transition to a more production-focused industry, many workplaces are benefiting from the reduced costs and improved productivity that comes with a focus on safety and wellbeing in the workplace.
While perhaps not the first area that comes to mind when seeking new cost efficiencies and productivity outputs, health and safety undoubtedly has a major impact on organisational performance.
SafeWork Australia estimates work-related injuries cost Australian businesses about $60 billion each year, underscoring the economic opportunities that can come with stronger compliance, greater risk management and ultimately, safer workplaces.
However, while the benefits of strong health and safety policies and practices are well accepted, less understood are the true impacts of mental health and psychosocial wellbeing in resource workplaces.
One particular area that has captured the attention of employers as well as workplace regulators, is that of workplace bullying and harassment.
National research shows one-in-three employees have been victimised by bullying in the workplace, and one-in-two are said to have witnessed bullying against a colleague at some point in their career.
At a personal level, the Australian Human Resources Commission cites the effects of a workplace bullying culture to be reduced productivity, low morale and poor mental wellbeing.
The economic impact is also far-reaching, with the Productivity Commission estimating bullying to cost Australian businesses between $6 billion and $36 billion each year. Further, each bullying claim against an organisation is thought to cost between $17,000 and $24,000 in legal fees – successful or not.
Thankfully, with a proactive approach to managing workplace cultures, this is one workplace issue you can effectively mitigate. While a holistic approach is necessary to managing such risks in each unique workplace, AMMA has assisted resource employers to achieve strong results through bullying and harassment awareness and management training.
The first step is recognising that many bullying incidents arise from employees not being aware of what constitutes bullying or inappropriate behaviour. Therefore, delivering organisation-wide training will educate your employees to recognise bullying when they see it and to actively assist in reducing its occurrence in the workplace.
This type of training can also lead to a more united and self-aware workforce, as well as an empowered working atmosphere. While valuable, general behavioural awareness training does have its limitation.
The next step to proactively preventing bullying incidents is to invest in assigning and training an on-site contact officer to handle claims of harassment with professionalism, confidentiality and sensitivity.
With the right course of training, a contact officer can be equipped with the legal knowledge to ensure the rights and obligations of both the employees and the organisation are upheld to ensure the highest standards of integrity in the workplace.
Contact officers are ideal for resolving bullying claims at the coalface to reduce the risk of financial and reputational cost to both parties if the dispute is elevated to the Fair Work Commission.
These strategies are two examples of how effective workplace training can help you proactively address complex workplace issues, potentially having far-reaching positive results in your workplace, including greater productivity and reduced costs.
As your resource industry employer group, AMMA is on-hand to help you ensure your Queensland workplaces have a positive workforce culture free from bullying and other unproductive and unsafe behaviours.
“Contact officers are ideal for resolving bullying claims at the coalface to reduce the risk of financial and reputational cost…”
AMMA Training & Development is the resource industry’s own Registered Training Organisation, offering a selection of courses to help the mining, oil and gas sector overcome the challenges of bullying behaviours and become a positive place for employees to work.
For more information, call 1800 891 662.