Mental wellbeing: an essential leadership issue for every principal and director

By April 22, 2024 No Comments

Recent updates to state and federal legislation mean the mental health of your team is no longer an optional ‘extra’ for real estate employers. 

Fair Work legislation in every state now obliges employers to protect their employees from not just physical risk in the workplace, but psycho-social hazards. 

In addition, new Federal legislation gives employees the right to disconnect from work. Under this legislation an employee may refuse to monitor, read or respond to contact, or attempted contact) from their employer or a third party outside of their working hours, unless the refusal is unreasonable.

This means every real estate leader needs to understand the risks associated with their business and take steps to mitigate and train their teams on how to reduce their impact, avoid them if possible and monitor the health of their employees. Stiff penalties – including criminal prosecution in some instances – exist for breaches. The legislation also extends to hold the directors of franchise groups accountable. 

Safe Work Australia defines psychosocial hazards as anything that can harm someone’s mental health. Common hazards include:

  • Demands of the job
  • Low job control
  • Poor support
  • Lack of job clarity
  • Traumatic events
  • Inadequate reward and recognition
  • Violence and aggression
  • Bullying
  • Harassment, including sexual or gender-based harrassment. 
  • Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions. 

However, it’s not just about governance. The good news is that creating psychologically safe workplaces has significant business benefits. These include:

  • Productivity: The cost of lost productivity due to poor mental health related illnesses is $39b annually in Australia. But when your team feels psychologically safe, there is a positive impact on performance. Teams who are encouraged to take calculated risks, share ideas, and experiment without fear of punishment are more likely to explore innovative approaches to problem-solving. This can lead to improved processes, better outcomes, and a competitive edge for your agency. 
  • Reduced Stress: When open communication and feedback are valued, team members are less likely to feel overwhelmed or anxious about voicing concerns or seeking help. This sense of support and understanding translates to lower stress levels, allowing your team to focus their energy on the job. 
  • Higher Engagement: When your team feels psychologically safe, they are more likely to be engaged in their work. They feel comfortable voicing their opinions and suggesting new ideas, leading to a greater sense of ownership and investment in their roles and responsibilities.
  • Job Satisfaction: When teams feel safe to be their authentic selves and express their thoughts, they experience a higher level of satisfaction with their work environment.
  • Staff retention: 85% of people look for psychological safety when considering a new job. Your reputation in the market will help them decide how your workplace compares to the one they are leaving. 

Safe Work Australia: Psychosocial definitions

Safe Work Australia: Code of Practice for Managing Psychosocial Risks at Work 

HerbertSmithFreehills: Right to Disconnect Overview

Safe Work NSW: Designing Work to Manage Psychosocial Risks