by | Mar 29, 2024

The Importance of ISO 45003 in the Workplace 

The Importance of ISO 45003 in the Workplace

ISO 45003 in the Workplace

The workplace is no longer all about productivity, results and performance – of course, those components still play a big part in defining the working world, but in recent years, it has become more of a dynamic environment where the mental and physical health of employees have come into focus.  

With more emphasis being placed on psychological wellbeing, standards like ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 have emerged as essential tools for organisations striving to create safer, more resilient and supportive work environments. In this episode of our Re Engaged @ Work podcast, we had the pleasure of speaking with Jennie Clark, the auditor goddess of ISO 45003. Jennie provided invaluable insights into the transformative power of these standards on employee wellbeing. 

Understanding the need for ISO 45003 

Jennie brings her vast expertise to the table, illuminating the pressing need for managing psychosocial risks in the workplace. She highlights a significant shift in workplace dynamics, especially the unique pressures of the modern work environment, such as the perpetual connectivity of the always-on culture. She explains that ISO 45003 was developed as a natural extension of ISO 45001, specifically addressing the psychological aspects of health and safety, which have become increasingly critical in today’s high-stress professional world. The British Psychological Society (BPS) indicates that well-implemented psychosocial risk management can reduce absenteeism by 25%. (BPS Wellbeing Report), highlighting the strategic advantage for businesses to pay more attention to psychological health and safety in the workplace. 

Key benefits of ISO 45003: 

Enhances employee wellbeing:

  • Provides guidelines for managing psychosocial risks. 
  • Promotes a healthier and more supportive work environment.

Improves organisational performance:

  • Leads to higher employee satisfaction and retention. 
  • Boosts productivity and innovation. 

Adopting ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 standards 

ISO 45001 has quickly become a cornerstone for businesses seeking a robust health and safety management system, potentially even surpassing ISO 9001 in popularity. ISO 45003 complements this by focusing on managing psychosocial risks. While some businesses may hesitate to adopt these standards, Jennie illustrates through a compelling case study how prioritising psychological health and safety can improve hiring cycles and attract better talent, ultimately delivering an impressive return on investment. In a 2022 survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), it was reported that companies implementing comprehensive health and wellbeing programmes saw a 67% increase in employee satisfaction and productivity, (CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work Report), which highlights the need for business leaders to take the initiative and prioritise their workplace wellbeing strategy 

The importance of leadership in an organisational context 

Our discussion with Jennie delves deeper into the pivotal role that leadership plays in shaping an organisation’s health and safety culture, especially post-COVID-19. Understanding the context of an organisation is crucial for implementing effective workplace wellbeing strategies.  

While the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) reported that empathetic leadership significantly boosts employee engagement and morale. (ILM Leadership Report). Jennie draws our attention to the various emotional responses of employees during times of change and highlights the apparent disconnect between management perceptions and staff experiences, which suggests that empathetic leadership has not taken hold like it needs to.  

Key responsibilities of leadership: 

Building a supportive culture

  • To encourage open communication about mental health. 
  • To implement policies that support work-life integration.

Regular monitoring and adaptation

  • To continuously review and update health and safety plans. 
  • To ensure alignment with the latest standards and practices. 

Managing psychosocial risks in the workplace 

Recognising and managing psychosocial risks is a complex task requiring consistent language and understanding across the organisation. Jennie stresses the importance of leadership commitment and the regular review and adaptation of plans to meet targets. Definitions of psychosocial risk and wellbeing at work, as outlined in ISO 45003 and ISO 45001, are essential, noting the interplay between work and personal life.  

Workplace health and safety standards 

The episode touches on the intricacies of workplace standards, focusing on work organisation, social factors and the work environment itself. Jennie discusses the importance of clarity in roles, expectations, job control and the impact of organisational change, including the new challenges introduced by remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Workplace wellbeing interventions and strategies 

The episode concludes with a discussion on a multi-tiered approach to managing stress and mental health in the workplace. Jennie emphasises the importance of primary, secondary and tertiary interventions, and the need for a supportive culture. Real-world issues such as the effects of reorganisation, procurement practices and outsourcing on employee wellbeing are examined, highlighting the critical nature of understanding ‘workers’ versus ’employees’ within the context of workplace standards.  

Jennie’s insights are a clarion call for organisations to recognise the value of employee mental health and wellbeing. By combining ISO 45001 with ISO 45003, businesses can create a culture that values and protects their workforce, leading to a healthier, more productive and more resilient organisation. The wisdom shared by Jennie is invaluable for any business leader or HR professional looking to make a meaningful impact on their company’s culture and the wellbeing of their employees.  

Tune in wherever you get your podcasts: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and many more… 

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