Press Release Launching New Protect Guide

A new guide launched today helps business leaders identify work-related factors that can harm workers’ mental wellbeing and encourages them to redesign the work environment to protect people’s mental wellbeing. 

The guide, Protecting Mental Wellbeing at Work, will be launched at an event in Auckland, where the Sky Tower will be lit up orange to mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work and International Workers’ Memorial Day.

“Poor work design can make people sick and cost businesses money,” says Francois Barton, Executive Director of the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum, which created the guide.

“For example, a NZ Wellness in the Workplace survey found absenteeism due to work-related stress increased to 22% in 2018 from 6% in 2016. UK research shows mental health is responsible for more sickness absence than any other condition, and the situation is likely to be similar here.”

Many businesses have initiatives to support workers’ mental wellbeing, Francois says.

“But free fruit on Friday and yoga on Tuesday won’t solve the problem if people continue to work in environments that are harming them. Businesses need to deal with work-related factors that can cause mental harm, like stress due to understaffing, difficult work relationships or unfair contract conditions.”

“This can require changing the way the work is organised or done, which can have financial or operational implications. That’s why the guide says that CEOs, directors and other senior leaders need to be involved in this process. It requires a mandate from the top.”

However, the good news is that redesigning work to support mental wellbeing brings benefits for both workers and organisations, he says.

“The payback for businesses comes from higher productivity due to lower work-related illness, better decision-making, positive worker engagement and attitudes, and more collaborative working relationships.”

The guide includes a process that businesses can use to identify things in their workplace that are harming or supporting mental wellbeing. They can then use this information to develop different ways of working that promote ‘good work’ and eliminate ‘toxic work’.

The guide was developed for the Forum by organisational psychologist Dr Hillary Bennett of Leading Safety and the process was extensively tested on Forum member businesses. 

The Forum is a not-for-profit supported by its members and the guide is freely available for anyone to download and use from 


Rob Campbell's Speech from Launch Event

Rob Campbell Speech 2021 PDF • 72 KB

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