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Employing people who have “been there, experienced that” to inform innovative HRM responses to workforce mental health issues: practice insights from industry

Ying Wang (School of Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Melissa Chapman (School of Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia) (Future of Work Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Australia)
Louise Byrne (School of Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia) (Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
James Hill (Energy Queensland, Townsville, Australia)
Timothy Bartram (School of Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 20 March 2024

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Abstract

Purpose

This case documents an innovative human resource management (HRM) practice adopted by an Australian organization in the energy sector, purposefully introducing lived experience informed “mental health advocate” (MHA) roles into the organization, to address pressing mental health workforce issues. MHA roles provide experiential, first-hand knowledge of experiencing mental health issues, offering a novel, common-sense and impactful perspective on supporting employees with mental health challenges.

Approach

Data that informed this case came from desktop research using publicly available resources, as well as a series of conversations with four key stakeholders in the organization. This approach allowed insights into Energy Queensland’s journey towards establishing novel MHA roles to delineate the day-to-day work practice of these roles.

Contribution to Practice

This is a novel HRM practice that has only recently emerged outside of the mental health sector. We discuss key considerations that enabled the success of the roles, including taking an evolutionary perspective, obtaining support from senior executives and relevant stakeholders, making a long-term financial commitment, and providing autonomy and flexibility in role design. This is the first article that documents this innovative practice to offer new insights to HRM scholars, as well as practical guidelines to other organizations in addressing workforce mental health issues.

Keywords

Citation

Wang, Y., Chapman, M., Byrne, L., Hill, J. and Bartram, T. (2024), "Employing people who have “been there, experienced that” to inform innovative HRM responses to workforce mental health issues: practice insights from industry", Personnel Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-03-2023-0174

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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