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Use PERMAH for your positive duty

by | Jan 20, 2024 | Change, Coaching, Employee Engagement, Leadership, PERMAH, Psychological safety, Wellbeing


The wonderful team at the Michelle McQuaid Group has done an update for the PERMAH workplace wellbeing survey adding a suite of questions specifically addressing the 14 psychosocial hazards in Safe Work Australia’s “Model code for the management of psychosocial hazards at work”. That means that you can address your positive duties to assess risks and consult your people while giving your business and your people a great platform for improving wellbeing at individual, team and organisational levels.


In his celebrated book “Flourish”, Professor Martin Seligman, a world leader in the field of positive psychology and wellbeing theory, set out the PERMA model for wellbeing as “a practical guide to using positive psychology to make you happier and healthier”. Other positive psychologists subsequently added an “H” for “Health” to his model with his endorsement.

The 6 pillars of wellbeing in PERMAH (as described by Dr Michelle McQuaid in the context of  workplace wellbeing) are:

POSITIVE EMOTIONS: such as joy and hope have been found to have a significant effect on our wellbeing. Researchers suggest that experiencing positive emotions broadens your outlook, helps you to build creativity and resourcefulness and to be more resilient and successful.

ENGAGEMENT: being able to use and develop your strengths at work – those things you are good at and enjoy doing – has been found to boost your confidence, engagement and energy at work.

RELATIONSHIPS: creating genuine connection with others at work can give you satisfaction and enrichment. Researchers suggest that it can also lower your levels of stress, improve your concentration and help advance your career.

MEANING: understanding how what you do at work makes a positive difference to others has been found to increase your wellbeing motivation, commitment and sense of satisfaction at work.

ACCOMPLISHMENT: cultivating grit has been found to give you the determination to pursue your goals and having a “growth mindset” can help you learn and grow from setbacks and challenges to achieve your true potential.

HEALTH: staying healthy by eating well, moving regularly and sleeping deeply has been found to build a solid foundation for your wellbeing.


PERMAH and psychosocial hazards

One of the central tenets of Professor Seligman’s work is the recognition that we all have our struggles in life but that doesn’t mean that we cannot flourish. If we work on our wellbeing with a positive mindset, we can equip ourselves to deal with our struggles more proactively and productively.

The positive duty that is being imposed through State and Territory legislation on Australian workplaces is also requiring “Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking” to be proactive in conducting risk assessments and putting in place appropriate measures to eliminate or mitigate/control any risks arising from psychosocial hazards. 

As noted in the preamble, part of the positive duty is also to consult your people about psychosocial hazards.

There are  clear links between the psychology underpinning PERMAH and the positive duty as well as between  the content of the PERMAH pillars and the prescribed psychosocial hazards.

The addition of the suite of survey questions on the psychosocial hazards just adds to the relevance and effectiveness of the PERMAH survey as a tool for measuring wellbeing and workplace risk and building cost effective risk controls based on real data provided by your own workforce.

The other bonus with the PERMAH workplace wellbeing survey is that every employee who does the survey gets their own personal report on where they sit against the 6 PERMAH pillars, a template for putting together their own personal wellbeing plan and access to a stack of resources that they can use to explore and improve their personal wellbeing. 

So there are lots of reasons why we use and recommend the PERMAH workplace wellbeing survey with the psychosocial panel add-on as a great place to start the process of meeting your positive duty to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards in your workplace.

PosWork Practice leader Peter Maguire is accredited to debrief on the PERMAH Workplace Wellbeing Survey with the Psychosocial Panel add-on. If you would like to learn more about how we might be able to assist you in the areas of workplace wellbeing and management of psychosocial hazards, please call us on 1300 108 488 or email



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1300 108 488