Victorian Group Training Company Ltd employs hundreds of young workers (apprentices and trainees) across Victoria aged 15-24. As a Group Training Organisation it is a compliance requirement to conduct regular field visits with our employees and their Host Employers. Throughout these visits (conducted in person and via telephone), we identified that there was a continuing trend that showed there was an issue with these young workers often not being comfortable to communicate any Workplace Health and Safety and/or mental health and well-being issues to us or their Host Employers – despite constant encouragement. Due to this lack of communication, through the field visits conducted, we found that accidents/incidents could have been prevented, hazards identified in the workplace quicker, apprenticeship and traineeship cancellations reduced should they have felt comfortable in raising these issues or concerns with us at the time. This was also applicable in relation to the general health and well-being of our employees, we found we could have been in a better position to identify and address any concerns earlier if only they had felt comfortable in speaking up and communicating with us.
As a large employer of young workers, we identified that young workers prefer to communicate primarily via technology with over 95% of our employees using a smart phone/device. Considering this, it was identified that we needed a technological mechanism for our employees to communicate with us and their Host Employers about all workplace health and safety issues and topics including their mental health and general wellbeing. We engaged with local industry, an independent psychologist, a focus group of 12 young workers and an independent facilitator about this idea and the result was that the most suitable form of technology for this purpose was a smart device application. An application that could be used on a mobile phone or tablet anywhere and anytime and simple enough to use for both young workers, and also their employers.
An application, named “Speak Up” was designed in collaboration with local industry, an independent psychologist, a focus group of 12 young workers and an independent facilitator. Approximately $100,000 and 1000 man-hours collectively have been invested in realising this project. Speak Up is a platform for young and vulnerable workers to ‘Speak up’ in the workplace. The aim of Speak Up is to encourage and enable young and vulnerable workers to communicate with their employers in a safe, judgement free space about workplace health and safety, mental health and general well-being. Speak Up promotes a safe work environment and positive work culture. Speak Up is comprised of 4 components, an employee survey, a Speak Up function, Articles (all within the app itself), and the Dashboard, in which the Employer/Management monitors and controls the data. The Speak Up function is a valuable feature of the App. It enables the employee to ‘Speak Up’ about anything they wish that is relevant to the workplace. They can identify themselves or remain anonymous and have the post displayed to their whole team (other employees within their workplace) or management only. (See Speak Up App Brochure attached for further explanation on all components). We see the ‘Speak Up’ app as an administration control that could potentially lead to eliminating risks/hazards in the workplace as well as becoming a valuable health and well-being tool for employees.