Case Study: How Does Optus Manage Psychological H&S?

The financial and social implications of untreated mental health clear, many organisations are now turning to their HR and Work Health & Safety teams to identify and implement relevant strategies that can help to address the risks and opportunities associated with Workplace Psychological Health & Safety. We spoke to the team at Optus to find out what they are doing in this space.o.

There is no point raising awareness of mental health issues and then expecting people to work in mentally unhealthy workplaces.

Heading 02 What issues was Optus facing in terms of workplace mental health

After securing the critical senior leader sponsorship for the strategy, Optus began implementing the CommuniCorp  Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplaces Framework . The framework encourages organisations to not only focus on the key psychological safety factors that are part of an organisations’ legal and compliance responsibilities, but builds on these as foundations to implement policies, practices, systems and initiatives that maximise the potential.

Developing a Psychosocial risk register that sits within the WHS risk registers across the business,including a thorough list of psychosocial hazards known to potentially cause psychological harm or injury and how they might present in the workplace specific to Optus.WHS representatives then customised this register to each specific business unit, recognising the different impacts that the psychosocial hazards might have on the particular work areas and the nature of the work undertaken across the different units. These new risk registers then allowed consistent reporting and data collection across different business units;

• Developing a Psychosocial risk register that sits within the WHS risk registers across the business,including a thorough list of psychosocial hazards known to potentially cause psychological harm or injury and how they might present in the workplace specific to Optus.WHS representatives then customised this register to each specific business unit, recognising the different impacts that the psychosocial hazards might have on the particular work areas and the nature of the work undertaken across the different units. These new risk registers then allowed consistent reporting and data collection across different business units;

• HR and WHS personnel were identified as a priority for training given that they are considered internal experts on managing psychological concerns/injury/illness and felt that presently there was a gap in this knowledge base. Full day training sessions with all Optus HR and WHS personnel were undertaken, with a focus on increasing their knowledge, confidence and capabilities for identifying, intervening, managing and preventing psychological health concerns at Optus.

Optus WHS are assisting all business units to undertake training for all people leaders, which takes the form of a full day training session focusing on the identification, intervention, management and prevention of psychological injury and illness for individual team members as well as the psychosocial safety of broader teams. Training is customised to business units, to reflect the day-to-day work scenarios faced by leaders across the different work areas. A big focus is on practical training elements, ensuring that Optus people leaders genuinely develop greater confidence and capability in relation to psychological health in the workplace.o.

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