New UniSA-Teamgage Initiative Tackles Workplace Bullying
World-first research is at the heart of a new workplace bullying prevention program, launched today by the University of South Australia and Australian software business, Teamgage.
The new program – Healthy Workplaces by Design – identifies and mitigates the root causes of bullying, extending beyond more obvious interpersonal triggers into psychosocial hazards, such as workplace environments, workload demands, and working practices.
As a risk audit and prevention program it will help businesses meet new work health and safety (WHS) obligations to proactively risk manage psychosocial hazards, especially workplace bullying.
About 1.1 million Australian workers experience serious workplace bullying, with 39 percent of mental disorder claims caused by workplace bullying, harassment, or violence.
Psychological health and safety are foremost on the agenda of Australian WHS policymakers, statutory agencies, and peak bodies, particularly since Safe Work Australia published the Model Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work.
UniSA researcher Professor Michelle Tuckey says the UniSA-Teamgage partnership will deliver a risk management process that uses work redesign to prevent workplace bullying and other psychosocial hazards.
“Every employer has a legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace, but there’s an increasing pressure for businesses to better manage psychosocial risks, including workplace bullying and sexual harassment,” Prof Tuckey says.
“Workplace bullying already causes up to $36 billion of lost productivity in each year. And with Safe Work Australia recording a 75 per cent increase in the frequency of bullying claims over the past ten years, it’s a problem that is not slowing down.
“The amended legislation will require businesses to proactively address workplace bullying (and other psychosocial risks) with the same rigour as physical health and safety hazards, which means they’ll need to go above and beyond administrative controls like policies and training.
“The UniSA + Teamgage partnership will enable businesses to undertake a tailored risk audit of their workplace and generate specific recommendations, actions, and evaluations to remedy any concerns.
“It shifts the emphasis from responding to interpersonal bullying behaviour, to proactively identifying and mitigating the root causes of bullying embedded within work environments.”
Trialled across 85 sites, Healthy Workplaces by Design has proven results, including:
- 34 per cent reduction in exposure to bullying behaviour
- 46 per cent reduction in workplace bullying complaints
- 73 per cent reduction in sexual harassment complaints.