Woolworths Group

We're partnering with Professor Michelle Tuckey to deliver Healthy Workplaces by Design - a program that's reducing workplace bullying complaints by 46%, absenteeism by 16% and proactively mitigating psychosocial hazards.

Delivered in sectors as diverse as health, retail and government, here's one of this program's many success stories.


Like many organisations, a lot of the work that Woolworths had done previously around psychosocial hazards in the workplace included creating policies, conducting compliance checks and carrying out training.

But in 2019, they decided it was time to try something different.

There was a real appetite to look externally for an evidence-based approach and to tackle psychosocial hazards in a proactive, rather than reactive way. However, any program to help identify, understand and respond to the root causes of this problem, had to do so within a highly complex, matrixed organisation with a big operational arm.

Healthy Workplaces by Design was chosen as that program.


In 2020, Professor Michelle Tuckey and her team from the University of South Australia and University of Queensland partnered with a broad working group at Woolworths, and 10 stores in Queensland were chosen as a proof of concept for the program.

With COVID putting a strain on customer-facing staff and their teams everywhere, there’d never been a more challenging time to try and reduce psychosocial hazards in the workplace.

But with the support of Michelle and her team, the stores were able to proactively raise areas of risk, and then co-design and own the resulting mitigation strategies.

The value of Healthy Workplaces by Design soon became clear, with the proof of concept stores showing improvements on all measurements, compared to before the program was run including:

  • Less exposure to bullying behaviours
  • Higher work engagement and job satisfaction
  • Lower job demands
  • Lower volume of employee relation cases
  • Increased customer experience in store

In addition, the evaluation data demonstrated that the program fosters a healthy workplace dynamic by supporting united and collaborative team efforts to improve work design.

In 2021 and 2022, a further 60 stores across Australia went through the same proactive process of identifying and mitigating workplace psychosocial hazards with equally impressive results.


Working with Michelle and Healthy Workplaces by Design really has been a journey. I remember those first conversations where my instinct was to think about individual bullies, rather than about how the environment people operate in can massively influence their behaviour.

So, I love how the focus for this program is on improving how work is designed to reduce psychosocial hazards and bullying, rather than just focusing on individuals. For example, that might be reducing the pressures that team leaders face, that could instigate those bullying behaviours.

And that’s a mindshift change and a completely different way of thinking about it.

I really believe that Healthy Workplaces by Design drives positive results. Even through the challenges of COVID, stores that took part in the program dramatically improved their internal advocacy while also reducing cases of employee relations and their exposure to bullying. That simply wasn’t the case in our control group of stores that initially didn’t participate.

The challenge for us now is to maintain our momentum!

Jason Fowler
Product Owner - Team Respect & Care, People Team, Woolworths Group

Find out more

Discover more about how Healthy Workplaces by Design can help you to comply with new workplace legislation and proactively tackle psychosocial hazards.

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