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Aligning psychological standards across borders: Bupa 

Read how Bupa, a diverse and complex organisation, is aligning its psychological and health safety standards with international standards to establish a global benchmark.   

  • Bupa, a global healthcare provider, increased its focus on worker's wellbeing, health and safety.   
  • The organisation implemented a psychological standard and set a benchmark for its global sectors.   
  • In Australia, Bupa is in the process of undertaking psychological risk assessments for its workforce, specific to each different business unit.   
  • Bupa uses this data to identify risks and priority areas, inform preventative measures to address these, and monitor the effect of interventions over time.   

Bupa – an international healthcare organisation with more than 80,000 workers globally – must navigate work health and safety legislation and regulation across multiple jurisdictions (in Australia and internationally). Given the diversity of Bupa’s operations, across multiple countries, all with different health and safety requirements, Bupa developed its own psychological health and safety standard, that aligns with international standards and provides high-level guidance on managing psychosocial risk for each jurisdiction.   

Reflecting society’s increasing focus on mental health in the workplace, Bupa expanded its Australian psychological health and wellbeing team – from 2 people, 3 years ago, to 7 people today. The team sees the new psychological health and safety standard as an opportunity to set a high-level approach to promoting and protecting workers' health.   

“We saw it as an opportunity to prepare ourselves for the coming regulatory requirements, and Bupa has been working to improve our systems and ways of working to reduce the presence of risks within our working environments.” Nathan McLeod, APAC Psychological Health & Wellbeing Lead  

A challenge for Bupa was developing an approach that would uniformly support its multi-faceted workforce spread across multiple divisions and diverse areas of retail, health and aged care. The standard provides a common high-level framework to evaluate workplace psychosocial hazards, address the risks through preventative initiatives, and monitor these outcomes over time. Under this common framework, teams have developed and implemented tailored approaches that meet specific needs of different areas of the organisation globally.   

Within the Australian workforce, Bupa is in the process of conducting psychosocial risk assessments for each area of their business. Within their Health Insurance division, Bupa partnered with People Diagnostix, and implemented the Flourish DX psychological health and safety tool. The tool enabled Bupa Health Insurance to understand that their priority psychosocial risk area having the greatest impact on their people was work demands. Strong co-worker and supervisor support were identified as the some of the lowest risk areas, especially for customer facing roles. Using this knowledge, Bupa was able to better understand and address the hazards and risks impacting Bupa people, as well as their most valuable protective factors.   

“We’re now working to understand what’s driving the risks that are impacting our people. Why are people feeling overloaded? Is this risk interacting with a lack of job clarity for example? Or is change driving the need for re-work, or the need to learn new processes, which is then increasing workload?” Mr McLeod said.  

Mr McLeod explained that while the concepts around psychological health and safety are not new, the current changes in regulations have been a welcome push for organisations to prioritise psychological health and safety. Reflecting this focus, the team continue to embed psychological health and safety in its people policies, safety practices and integrated initiatives, which support systemic change to organisational and work design.  

To meet the unique needs of Bupa’s other business areas, tools and assessment methods have been designed to enable greatest participation and representation, especially within more complex operational areas, such as aged care.   

  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • All locations
  • Published 25 Jul 2023
  • Updated 25 Jul 2023