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People at Work frequently asked questions

The People at Work survey is designed to be independently administered by organisations. As such, organisations may choose to administer the survey at a time that best suits them. For those organisations that choose to evaluate the effectiveness of chosen interventions in light of their results, we recommend that organisations repeat the survey process no more than 18 months later to obtain data against which to assess positive changes and progress.

The survey is designed for organisations of all sizes. However, small organisations may find it difficult to provide anonymity in a situation where demographic questions would result in the identification of respondents. This can be resolved by excluding demographic items that may result in an individual being identified. The People at Work survey paper form does not include demographic questions.

Ideally, everyone in the organisation should be invited and encouraged to participate to ensure that your psychosocial risk assessment is representative of your organisation. However, for very large organisations, it is possible to select a random sample of workers or target a specific group of workers to participate.

In order to provide meaningful results, an overall organisational response rate of at least 30 per cent should be achieved and a minimum of 10 responses. In reporting on the results of your survey, it is recommended that there be at least 10 responses for each group that will be reported on (e.g. if you want to compare departments or branches). This will also help to ensure anonymity and confidentiality.

It is possible for very small organisations to undertake the People at Work survey. Because workers may have concerns about how confidentiality and anonymity will be preserved, it will help to consult with the staff prior to undertaking the survey, and plan how results will be reported on. If workers are comfortable with completing the survey given small numbers of respondents, it is appropriate to proceed. If staff are not comfortable with the survey, you might consider alternative processes, such as using focus groups or interviewing staff to find out about potential health and safety issues in the workplace.

The questions in the survey have been arranged into three major sections:

  • your job and workplace (e.g. job demands and job resources)
  • relationships at work (e.g. workplace bullying)
  • your general well-being (e.g. psychological well-being).

For further information about the survey, please refer to the information sheet on What is the People at Work survey (PDF, 0.46 MB)?

The survey cannot be altered because doing so would alter your psychosocial risk profile and affect your ability to compare your organisation's results to our established benchmarks. If you wish, there is the opportunity to include additional questions, should there be a specific issue that your organisation would like to have addressed.

Completing the survey takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the individual.

There are different ways you can distribute surveys to your workers. You could distribute the paper based surveys in person, (allowing an additional opportunity to talk to workers about the purpose of the survey), you could place in an envelope and mail to staff, or you could email the survey to managers who could print and distribute these to staff.

You need to allow enough time to prepare your organisation to undertake the People at Work survey. As a guide six weeks may be required for medium to large workplaces. This timeframe allows you to conduct internal communication and to establish internal systems to support the survey process, ensuring strong workforce engagement and good response rates. For a guide on the steps to follow, please refer to the People at Work implementation guide (PDF, 0.58 MB) .

It is important that workers in your organisation feel comfortable about providing information and feedback about psychosocial hazards and factors in the workplace. This can be supported by ensuring workers are aware the survey will be anonymous (that is, they won't be required to record their name on their survey response) and that the results of the survey will be stored securely. It may help to inform survey respondents that the data from the survey will only be viewed by those who are preparing the results/reports, and that other individuals in the organisation will not have access to individual responses, only aggregated data.

Yes, you can obtain results based on organisational groupings that suit your organisation. To do this, we recommend you complete a separate data analysis spreadsheet for each identified group to easily distinguish data.

You will be able to report on the following information:

  • the percentage of workers experiencing high job demands and low job resources
  • comparisons of psychosocial hazards and factors with Australian benchmarks
  • the psychosocial hazards and factors that should be targeted for intervention
  • the prevalence (i.e. how common the issues is within the workforce) of bullying (both experienced and witnessed), as well as the most common problem behaviours and sources
  • the prevalence of frequent experience of musculoskeletal symptoms and high levels of job burnout, stress-related absenteeism, turnover intentions based on stress-related issues, and job dissatisfaction.

The People at Work research project was conducted between 2008 and 2015, accumulating comparison benchmarks for approximately 11,000 Australian workers across the public and private sectors, most industries, and occupations. For further details on the types of organisations and roles that contributed to this benchmark, please read the final paper (PDF, 2.53 MB).