The Seven Workplace Strategies

Workplace strategy 4 – Smarter work design

Workplace strategy 4 – Smarter work design

It doesn’t matter if you are a small business, larger company, or a team, good work design practices make for a more mentally healthy workplace. Involving employees in designing workplaces and practices also helps them to feel heard and valued.

Smarter Work Design is number four of the Seven Workplace Strategies in the Roadmap Planner which has been designed to help businesses understand psychological safety and offer guidance about building your own Workplace Wellbeing Plan. Having a Workplace Wellbeing Plan means you will be taking steps to meet your Work, Health, and Safety duty of care by managing psychosocial hazards at work.
So, what does work design include? Work design includes the physical environment that people work in. Things like having appropriate lighting, break spaces where people can relax and recharge properly, workplaces where people feel safe from injury when doing their jobs, these are all examples of the physical environment.

But work design is also about practices in the workplace too. Role clarity and expectations, job demands like shift length for example, or workload. These are also work design factors. It is important to identify, eliminate, reduce or manage excessive and unnecessary demands on people in the workplace. In short, job demands must be tolerable and reasonable, and this includes time demands, physical demands, emotional demands, and cognitive demands.

Role clarity provides all employees with a clear understanding of their own tasks, responsibilities, and processes at work. When roles are clear and well understood, role confusion and stress are minimised. Communication between leaders and employees regarding work aspects such as the flow of work or specific tasks and expected timelines, can provide clarity regarding performance expectations and how tasks should be completed.

Importantly, employees should have regular opportunities to discuss their roles and responsibilities with team leaders, supervisors, or managers. Encouraging them to be involved in making decisions about their work provides an element of control, autonomy, and value.

So where do you start?  

Try these as your first steps: 

  • Read story 4 ‘Benita – Smarter work design’ in the Healthy Heads Planner
  • Read the Healthy Heads:
  • Review staff job descriptions and check if information around work schedules, shift work and role clarity and expectations are included
  • Meet with your teams to explore how to create a smarter work design in your workplace
    • Record any challenges raised and ideas put forward
    • Map out a plan to respond to some of the issues raised – remember its ok to start with small changes or adjustments
  • Look to create a system for regular discussions with individuals or teams regarding roles, responsibilities and work design.

By completing these first steps you are well on the way to applying some of the elements within the Seven Workplace Strategies.  
If you would like further information on our Roadmap Planner please reach out to our Director, Industry Relations and Program Management, Melissa Weller on [email protected]