Working to improve productivity

A RECENT report by Workcover Western Australia indicates stress in the workplace contributes to a significant proportion of workers’ compensation claim costs in WA. In an effort to reduce these costs, a workplace counselling initiative called Working Relationships has been organised by Anglicare WA. The service aims to save businesses some of the significant costs that can accrue by resolving personal and professional issues that affect employees’ ability to perform optimally in the workplace. According to program coordinator Bruce Byfield, the introduction of an employee assistance program in a workplace has been shown to yield significant reductions in lost work time, sickness and workers’ compensation claims. Mr Byfield describes the service as: “A work-based, early intervention program designed to identify and address difficulties which could interfere with work performance and lead to decreased productivity”. An organisation can offer the Working Relationships workshops and counselling services to its employees, who are not forced to participate, according to Mr Byfield. A report is then given to management to outline broader issues in the workplace without compromising employee confidentiality. The service, which goes towards subsidising other services provided by Anglicare WA, is charged as it is used by staff. Anglicare WA has been operating the workshops since 1997 under various names and has had clients that include the WA Police Service and a number of private schools. The charity also struck a partnership with Central TAFE in 1999 that covers a range of occupational health and safety issues as well as including the standard workshops.

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