Is our work OK?
The use of RUOK day at workplaces fills me with despair.
Setting aside the problems inherent in people not being trained, not being comfortable, and misinterpreting the nature of relationships, nobody is actually talking about the contribution of work to not being OK.
Sadly, this makes an otherwise really important public health intervention as hollow as the yellow balloons and coffee cups that happily decorate many Australian workplaces today.
Don’t get me wrong, encouraging staff to talk to one another and normalise mental health issues is a good first step, but it is a first step that organisations have been taking for many years now.
Organisations have duties that go way beyond health promotion. They’re meant to control sources of harm to people’s health. That includes the way work is carried out.
That is really the challenge for any employer participating in RUOK day.
A list of 12 things HR professionals can do to better manage mental health at work, published today, listed only one thing that was related to changing how work is done. All the others focused on individuals with existing mental health conditions. That’s important, but it’s not where the organisation’s efforts should be concentrated. And HR should be leading this, along with workplace health and safety professionals.
So if you’re doing RUOK day today at work, maybe encourage those who signed off on the yellow balloons to flip the question.
Is our work OK?
Safe Work Australia's guide on work-related psychological health and safety;
requirements in the new Standard on Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems AS/NZS ISO45001:2018, particularly Section 6.
This material first appeared as an article on Carlo's LinkedIn page