New psychosocial hazard laws in workplace demand different approach to new employees


Onboarding experience falls short for 90% of employees – with significant consequences for mental health and wellbeing

Employers are being urged to review and revise onboarding processes for new employees to identify and mitigate psychosocial hazards as Australian states and territories face Safework Australia’s new Model Code of Practice.

A survey of Australian managers and employees shows 65% have experienced feelings of stress or being overwhelmed and 50% reported feelings of isolation. Under the new Model Code being introduced psychosocial hazards that are not alleviated or removed can become a risk that carries potential criminal action.

Market research conducted by NewFocus was commissioned by service management software provider TOPdesk, and points to a lack of resources and guidance for new employees. It also revealed that 76 percent of the 1000 respondents would fix their own issues if they had the right tools.

Organisational Psychologist Hayden Fricke admits he is staggered by the survey’s results which he believes reflect the different work arrangements and environments post COVID. “The introduction of the new psychosocial hazards Model Code of Practice is likely to create huge change in the workplace and the survey could serve as a timely warning to organisations and leaders to adapt their onboarding processes to include tangible and measured support for employee mental health and well-being.

Mr Fricke says whilst not all stress is bad, the right induction process and support will set an employee up for success. “A combination of positive stress (known as eustress) and distress on the first day of a new job is normal; there should be more eustress and less distress at the end of a 90-day onboarding period if the onboarding process is managed well.”

The survey findings were also a surprise to TOPdesk General Manager Robert van der Gulik who says employers need to do better or face serious consequences. “Mentally unhealthy workplaces already cost Australia up to $39 billion a year in lost participation*. When organisations provide a strong introduction to the workplace this makes employees’ lives easier and less stressful Mr Van der Gulik said.

Changes to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation have already been passed in NSW and became operative from 1 October 2022, QLD will commence in April 2023, other states are on track to introduce amendments, in VIC proposed changes have been developed and are expected to be passed early next year.

The report is available at

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