Office for the Public Sector


Workforce Wellbeing

The SA Public Sector Workplace Wellbeing Framework aims to promote practices that support workplace health and wellbeing and achieve improved workforce and business outcomes. It is intended to be a practical framework that will enable public sector agencies to determine their specific areas of focus and possible interventions within the context of their strategic human resource and operational frameworks.

Implementation guide

The following steps will help you implement the Workforce Wellbeing Framework in your agency.

Prepare the organisation

Preparing the organisation requires:

  • robust governance arrangements that incorporate senior management commitment; and
  • a steering group to direct and monitor the activities of the project.

When establishing the steering group, agreement should be reached to:

  • agree on the steering group terms of reference; and
  • assign roles and responsibilities.

The steering group membership should include:

  • executive representation (project champion)
    • The role of the project champion is to:
      • represent the project at executive level
      • update the executive on progress
    • ensure the project is adequately resourced
  • day-to-day project manager
    • The day-to-day role of the project manager is to:
      • manage the project
      • organise and facilitate meetings
      • document decisions and provide an audit trail
      • keep the project on schedule and on budget
    • The project management elements for which the steering group has responsibility include:
      • project name
      • project plan
      • resources
      • marketing/communications
      • monitoring progress
      • approval of action plans
      • generation and approval of management reports
    • Methods of communication should include:
      • briefing groups
      • intranet
      • newsletters
      • notice boards
      • email
      • individual memos and letters
    • health and safety manager
    • line manager
    • other

In summary, project success is increased with:

  • senior management commitment
  • employee involvement/partnership approach
  • a project plan that includes effective communications activities

Understand health and wellbeing risk factors

Create awareness of the Workplace Wellbeing Framework which supports the:

  • Building Safety Excellence in the Public Sector strategy
  • State Strategic Plan – Target 21: Greater Safety at Work and Target 86: Psychological wellbeing

The Workplace Wellbeing Framework is based on:

  • research evidence
  • legislative requirements
  • SA public sector data
  • Government strategy and policy

The key objectives of the Workplace Wellbeing Framework are to:

  • improve business outcomes through enhanced motivation and performance
  • improve workplace health and wellbeing

Further information on health and wellbeing topics can be found at SafeWork Australia’s website

Identify who is affected and how

Identification of health and wellbeing risks can be identified at the primary, secondary or tertiary level.

Primary (strategic) level risks can be made through:

Secondary (ameliorative) level risks can be identified through:

  • employee turnover
  • exit interviews
  • employee assistance program data
  • grievance reports
  • informal talks with employees

Tertiary (reactive) level risks can be identified through:

  • workers compensation claims
  • sickness absence data

What are we looking for in the data?

  • areas of good performance
  • existing knowledge of problems
  • correlations between data sources
  • ‘hot spots’

Wellbeing risk factors

The following risk factors associated with workplace wellbeing have been identified through systematic reviews.

  • High demands, low control, combination of high demands and low control (job strain), low decision latitude, low social support, high psychological demands, high job insecurity and effort reward imbalance (ie perceived unfair balance between the job requirements and gains received from the employment arrangements) predicted common mental disorders (common mental disorders include mild to moderate depressive and anxiety disorders). The strongest effects were found for job strain and effort-reward imbalance. (LaMontagne, A., et al. 2010)
  • The relationship between job stress and common mental disorders appears to be causally dominant. (LaMontagne, A., et al. 2010)
  • There appears to be consistent findings that perceptions of adverse psychological factors in the workplace are associated with increased risk for subsequent depressive symptoms or major depressive episode. (Bonde, J.P.E. 2008)
  • Long working hours, heavy workloads, and low social support has been found to be causal to depression. (LaMontagne, A., et al. 2010)

Evaluate the risk, explore the options and develop solutions

When considering intervention approaches (refer to the table below), selecting the most effective intervention will assist in optimising project outcomes.

Source: Systems approach to job stress, LaMontagne et al 2007

Source: Systems approach to job stress, LaMontagne et al 2007

Examples of interventions may include:

Primary (strategic) level

  • work organisation/job design
  • demand management
  • work conditions
  • line management training
  • communication initiatives
  • new targeted policies or review of existing policies

Secondary (ameliorative) level 

  • individual/team mentoring
  • specific interventions eg building resilience

Tertiary (reactive) level

  • return to work programs
  • therapeutic interventions

Develop and implement plans

Things to consider when developing implementation plans:

  • results need to be captured in a prioritised action plan
  • employees need to be kept informed of progress at regular intervals
  • communication activities need to be formulated in a communications plan
  • quick wins can demonstrate that action is being taken, whilst other interventions are delivered in the medium to long term
  • is the level of the intervention aimed at a team (micro), a department (macro) or the whole organisation (strategic)?
  • named individuals to take responsibility for each action within specified timeframes and to report progress

Monitor and review action plans and assess effectiveness

How can wellbeing be part of continuing practice?

  • evaluating effectiveness of interventions on organisation performance
  • reviewing existing interventions
  • reviewing policies and procedures
  • continuous improvement
Back to top