A new initiative by the Fair Work Ombudsman will train company executives on how to handle the suicide of employees that have lost their jobs.
Workplace stress in Oz has become so severe that the emotional stress that executives suffer after laying off staff and then having workers commit suicide is being addressed by the Ombudsman to deal with the feelings of stress and guilt.
Some workers take their retrenchments and dismissals so badly that they resort to suicide, employers and management often have to deal with feelings of guilt because of these events.
The developments have been brought on by the suicide of a recently dismissed employee, whose suicide was found to have impacted on the emotional state of his co-workers. The incident highlights the need for greater attention to mental health in the workplace, not only for management but also for co-workers and retrenched staff as well.
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The approach by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) will include self-employed bosses who often are left out of official help programs.
The FWO is compiling general information and contact numbers for help groups which it believes will aid “employers and employees in better managing these often complex issues”.
That care would be in addition to looking after the emotional condition of people who have just lost their jobs.
The move follows an inquiry into the apparent suicide of a man who had just lost his job. Details of the case are being kept confidential.
News.com.au has been told that the coroner raised the need to look after the mental health of the dead man’s former colleagues.
A spokesman for the FWO told news.com.au the efforts were part of “recognising the importance of mental health issues in the workplace”.
The spokesman said “the Fair Work Ombudsman is currently developing some general information to refer workplace participants to various services that may assist employers and employees in better managing these often complex issues”.
Middle aged workers who find themselves unemployed after decades of gainful employment are hit particularly hard by retrenchments and the difficulty of obtaining new work.
Also when a worker is fired, his/her co-workers also suffer from fear of job loss and job insecurity because they wonder whether they will be the next to go. This impacts negatively on their mental wellbeing and this stress then impacts their physical state.
A decline in the workers mental and physical health then affects the worker’s productivity and ability to perform at their best this could result in the worker being placed under review, resulting in more stress, anxiety and possibly job loss. Even giving staff annual performance reviews is stressful for management even though they are just doing their job.
Hopefully this initiative will help executives and staff deal with difficult and tragic incidents in the workplace in order to ensure their mental health and wellbeing.