Graph – Thriving score for policy over time

Workplace policies are documented guidance or instructions for processes and decision making. Clear policies around mental health, seen in action by employees, bring significant benefits both for worker wellbeing and business outcomes.

Graph – Policy score over time

The policy domain index score continued to rise (up 1.3 points to 62.8), following strong gains in 2020. More workers reported that workplace bullying and harassment is being handled effectively (up 1.0 percentage points (pp) to 22.0%) and they have easy access to confidential support services (up 1.5pp to 21.0%). The Wholesale Trade and Retail Trade industries improved dramatically from relatively low scores last year, while the Public Administration and Safety industry fulfilled its potential in this domain. In previous years this industry’s policy score was fairly average, although far better than the other domains. However, this year the policy index score improved by 2.6 points to 64.6, taking the industry from 9th to 3rd place in the policy domain. This is the first time the Public Administration and Safety industry has ranked in the top three for any domain, and a particularly impressive achievement during a pandemic!

Australia’s casual workforce reported strong improvements in policy (up 3.7 points to 60.5). It’s a positive sign for this important and growing workforce, who have historically been well behind their part-time and full-time colleagues. In the last year, casual workers have closed the gap with full-time workers from 6.2 points to 2.6 points, but more commitment is needed to make sure workplace policies are mentally healthy for all workers regardless of their employment basis.

Recent efforts by Comcare, Safe Work Australia and the workplace regulators in every state and territory not only provided more clarity and guidance relating to health and safety during the pandemic, but drove further discussions about bullying, sexual harassment and other unlawful workplace practices. While we still have a long way to go before this domain is thriving (80 or above out of 100), the regulatory focus is potentially contributing to the positive change in the policy domain over the last year.

What can you do to improve policy?

Having an effective strategy and policy in place that focuses on the mental health and wellbeing of your people is one of the first steps in creating a mentally healthy workplace. Here are some things to consider when implementing policies in your workplace:

  • Make sure documents are easy to digest and accessible to staff.
  • Give clear guidance on how to identify, eliminate or reduce and manage both psychosocial and physical safety risks. Safe Work Australia has resources for this here.
  • Take actions to protect and promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Check out some ideas here.
  • Take proactive steps to increase all staff and leaders’ knowledge and awareness of workplace mental health and wellbeing. SuperFriend’s workplace solutions can help with this.
  • Give workers with a mental health condition ongoing support to stay at home or return to work. Read Heads Up’s tips here.

Not sure where to start? SuperFriend can complete a review of your existing strategy and policies for you with a Workplace Wellbeing Audit.

Workplace Wellbing Audit
Learn how SuperFriend can help

Where policy improved:

Public Administration and Safety

Up 2.6 points to 64.6

Wholesale Trade

+5.3 points to 62.8

Retail Trade

+4.4 points to 64.3

Workplaces with 200-999 workers

+3.7 points to 60.5

Casual workers

+2.3 points to 65.7

Workers aged 65+ years 

+3.3 points to 66.8

Where policy declined:

Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services

Down 1.6 points to 64.5

Financial and Insurance Services

-1.1 points to 65.9

Short-term contractors

-0.8 points to 62.3

Workplaces with 1,000-4,999 workers

-0.9 points to 64.0

Workers aged 55-64 years

-0.2 points to 60.5