The working from home (WFH) phenomenon seems established for white-collar and administration workers but the anger, protests and disappointment from businesses and landlords continues.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) has released an important survey of their members about health and wellbeing at work. Amongst many of the findings is that “Stress continues to be one of the main causes of absence” and that “Heavy workloads remain by far the most common cause of stress-related absence…” So how are CIPD members reducing the heavy workloads? They’re not. 78% of respondents are using Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to “identify and reduce stress”. Options like hiring additional staff or reducing the workload do not even chart. OMG!
The Australian Industry Group (AIGroup) has published an article intended to rebuild trust between workers and employers and is based on a “Tight Loose Tight” concept. It seems to make sense and maybe moreso to its intended audience but it is missing essential integration.
Coincidentally, as Europe burns and a little blog in Australia writes about the occupational context of excessive heat, a new book called Heat – Life and Death on a scorched planet was in the bookstores. Jeff Goodell, like so many North American authors, writes for his local readers even though his publishers sell books globally.
However, he does address the occupational health and safety (OHS) impacts of heat and offers some adaptations.
In 2022 a young employee of EY died by suicide after a work function. EY announced an independent review of EY Oceania’s workplace culture and that the report would be publicly available. That report was released on 27 July 2023. EY’s response was good crisis management, but the public release is beyond what many companies would do, so EY’s transparency in this case should be acknowledged.
The report written by Elizabeth Broderick‘s company offers good news for EY. There is a high level of satisfaction, but results in the 80 percentages or some 90 percentages still allow for a significant number of personnel who are dissatisfied, harassed, bullied, and/or mentally stressed. It is not unreasonable to accept the EY report as being indicative of the workplace cultures of hundreds or thousands of similar businesses.
This report needs to be read widely and thoroughly by any Human Resources (HR), Executive and occupational health and safety (OHS) professional. The following article scratches the surface of this significant investigation.
Excessive working hours are a known occupational health and safety (OHS) hazard, both physically and psychologically. But when the excessive, excessive? When do these excessive hours start to create harm?
Work-related harm is often generated by exploitation, but exploitation is a term rarely used by the occupational health and safety (OHS) profession. If it was, the OHS approach to harm prevention may be very different, especially now that a safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental right.
Perhaps the omission of exploitation is not that surprising. It is often seen through the lens of industrial relations, and a flexible demarcation often exists between IR and OHS. It is important to note that the International Labour Organisation’s Glossary of OSH terms also fails to include exploitation though it is from 1993.
However, a recent report from the Grattan Institute, Short-changed: How to stop the exploitation of migrant workers in Australia, does discuss workplace health and safety as an element of worker exploitation.