This is one of several short essays that were prepared as a set of resources during the original ADVANCE grant period. The essay, written by Thomas LaGrone
, introduces the concept of a psychologically healthy workplace.
The phrase ‘Psychologically Healthy Workplace’ (PHW) has been utilized in several contexts to express the alignment of employees’ emotional, cognitive, and social needs with company policy and programs (Grawitz, Gottschalk, & Munz, 2006). According to the American Psychological Association, a PHW consists of five distinct, yet interconnected practices: Employee Involvement, Employee Growth and Development, Employee Recognition, Work-Life Balance, and Health & Safety.
Employee Growth and Development
Employee development programs tend to occur over two time spans: the short-term which is geared toward training for the current position and the long-term for career-related skills development. These can include specific training programs for legal compliance, technological and analytical skill-building and executive education programs. The end result is increased knowledge for the employee to reinvest in the company, as well as the perception that the company is invested in the employees’ future.
Health and Safety
Many families are reliant upon the medical benefits that are available through places of employment. Traditionally assessment and treatment of afflictions have been covered, but preventative measures like health screenings and wellness programs are growing in popularity along with substance abuse support and stress management programs.
Employee involvement is comprised of two elements: autonomy and input. Autonomy is characterized as the degree of freedom that an employee has to perform tasks and accomplish goals in a manner that is most efficient. One way organizations can extend autonomy to their employees is through a flextime arrangement which can accommodate the scheduling needs of the employee. Input refers to the degree to which an employee can shape decision making processes. This can be done a variety of ways. For example, via a suggestion box or direct interaction with decision-makers. As a whole, Employee Involvement has been shown to be the most robust practice to contribute to overall job satisfaction (Grawitch, Ballard, Barber, & Ledford, 2009). This necessarily entails encouraging a two-way channel of communication between decision-makers and employees.
Recognition/rewards for employees can be divided into monetary and non-monetary rewards. In terms of common practice, monetary rewards are much more prevalent than non-monetary. However, monetary rewards have been shown to correlate more with short-term endurance of behaviors. Non-monetary rewards such as public recognition and empowerment on the other hand correlate with more long term preservation and increased organizational commitment.
Recognizing constraints acting upon the employees can lead to greater flexibility and support from the organization. Work-Life Balance recognizes that work accounts for a significant portion of the individual’s life span and often is interconnected. Overlapping with Employee Involvement practices, flextime illustrates accommodation for stressors on employees’ schedules, allowing for maximized efficacy. Further support groups such as substance abuse groups may be offered which overlaps with Health & Safety concerns.
For more information, see the American Psychological Association's Center for Organizational Excellence
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