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InPsych 2016 | Vol 38

February | Issue 1

Psychology in current issues

How psychology is solving workplace problems

Queensland’s largest electricity generator has reduced workplace incidents among younger workers by 75 per cent following a successful safety intervention that focussed on educating young adults about the psychological principles underpinning human development.

The YOLO (You Only Live Once) program was developed by Stanwell Corporation after a review of injuries suffered by apprentices and trainees which found that younger workers were significantly less likely to effectively identify and control hazards.

The highly interactive 2.5 hour multimedia presentation was rolled out around Stanwell’s 10 sites in Queensland for workers under 25 and their mentors. It resulted in a dramatic reduction in injuries – as well as commendations from Safe Work Australia – by highlighting strategies that young workers could adopt to compensate for the way they receive and process information.

AJ Glazebrook, a Health and Safety Cultural Specialist at Stanwell, said “With that knowledge we have created a program that allows us to connect and capture the attention of our young workers in a way that is age appropriate and personal and fit for purpose.”

Stanwell Corporation won the 2015 APS Workplace Excellence Award for Workplace Health and Wellbeing for the highly popular program, which demonstrated the fascination that individuals have for understanding the science of psychology and the insights it provides into how and why they act as they do.

Ms Glazebrook said: “Winning the APS Workplace Excellence Award for Health and Safety in 2015 has raised the profile of the Stanwell Health and Safety Team and individual members.

She said: “The win boosted our professional reputations and strengthened stakeholder confidence in our abilities to produce nationally-recognised, leading edge health and safety solutions. We are able to leverage off this platform of stakeholder confidence to support our future initiatives.”

The entry in the awards from Stanwell was among initiatives from organisations such as banks, health services, consultancies, manufacturers, and local and federal government. Winners in the nine categories of the Workplace Excellence Awards included Medibank, People Measures and the Attorney-General’s Department of South Australia.

Mandala Foundation, a Melbourne-based non-for-profit organisation, won the recruitment and selection category for its work in the selection and support of aid workers. Mandala was able to improve the retention rate for employees of a health care charity in Timor Leste from 50 to 100 per cent by designing a process that involved psychosocial risk assessment and consultation with families of recruits.

Synchro Marketing won the performance management category for an online people management portal which was deployed in the media sales sector and improved employee engagement in a challenging and competitive sector.

The APS Workplace Excellence Awards are now in their second year and APS members are urged not to miss their opportunity to enter the important program. Entries for the 2016 awards, which are open to all organisations operating in Australia, close just weeks away on March 11.

The Awards celebrate exceptional achievement and best practice in the application of psychology in the workplace. They were established by the APS College of Organisational Psychologists to provide professional and public recognition for the transformational change that can occur when psychological principles are applied effectively.

Dr Timothy Bednall MAPS, Chair of the APS College of Organisational Psychologists, said: “Psychology has become indispensible for organisations in many sectors wishing to make a real difference to the way they work or the outcomes they achieve. Many face difficult conditions, but psychology can provide evidence-based, measurable and highly cost effective solutions to a range of challenges.

Dr Bednall said: “As psychologists, we know that the application of psychology is almost limitless but we sometimes forget to celebrate this. This is an important opportunity to educate the public about the role that psychology can play in improving efficiency, effectiveness and productivity, as well as addressing worker satisfaction and loyalty. We are hoping more great examples will emerge this year that show business leaders, government and the public the important role that psychological expertise can play.”

Entrants do not need to be psychologists, but they do need to demonstrate the critical role that psychological expertise and evidence played in the planning, delivery and evaluation of their initiative.

Entry to the Workplace Excellence awards is free – which is rare for such professional awards – and the process is designed to be simple. Entrants are asked to address four simple criteria in a written entry of up to 2,000 words. The winners of this year’s awards will be announced at an awards ceremony later this year.

More information on the Workplace Excellence Awards, details on how to enter and video presentations on the 2015 winners are available at www.workplaceexcellenceawards.com.au


Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on February 2016. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.