Article Date: 9/1/2009

A Psychologically Healthy Workplace
staffing solutions

A Psychologically Healthy Workplace

Multiple benefits result from creating a practice that stresses well-being.

BY BOB LEVOY, O.D.

“Many employers now recognize that the key to success lies in their own workplace and understand that employee health and well-being and organizational performance are inextricably linked,” says Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., executive director of the American Psychological Association (APA).

The APA presented its 2009 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award to WR Systems, Ltd., Replacements, Ltd., Teledyne Brown Engineering, WorldatWork and Sandia Preparatory School.

These organizations report an average turnover rate of 11% — significantly less than the 39% national average, as reported by the U. S. Department of Labor. Also, a total of 25% of the winning organization's employees report experiencing chronic work stress, compared with 39% nationally, and 85% of these employees report being satisfied with their jobs, compared with 61% nationally. Further, 87% of these employees say they would recommend their organizations to others as a good place to work, compared with 44% nationally.

The APA cites five categories of healthy workplace psychological practices, and all apply to optometric practices as much as they do to the award-winning organizations.

1. Employee involvement. Involving your staff in decisions that affect their work can increase job satisfaction, employee morale and commitment to the practice.

2. Employee growth and development. On-the-job training and continuing education help expand employees' knowledge, skills and abilities. These, in turn, increase motivation, job satisfaction and ultimately, improve the quality of patient care.

3. Work-life balance. Work-life balance policies acknowledge that employees have responsibilities and lives outside of work. These policies help individuals manage these multiple demands. Benefits of these policies include increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and the ability to attract and retain top-quality employees.

Consider policies that can facilitate this balance, such as flextime (variation in the start and end of the standard workday); reduced work schedules (employees work fewer days per week or fewer hours per day); compressed workweeks (four 10-hour days for example); job sharing (two people share one full-time position); and telecommuting (performing a job from a site other than the office, usually home).

4. Health and safety. Health and safety efforts include a wide variety of workplace practices that can help employees improve their physical and mental health, reduce health risks and manage stress effectively. Examples: adequate health insurance; training and safeguards regarding the work environment; and efforts to help employees develop a healthy lifestyle, such as stress-management, weight-loss and smoking-cessation programs.

5. Employee recognition. Recognition can take various forms: formal and informal; monetary and non-monetary. By acknowledging employee efforts and making them feel valued and appreciated, you can increase employee satisfaction, morale and self-esteem.

Reality check: “It's important to note there is ‘no one size fits all' approach to creating a psychologically healthy workplace,’ ” says Dr. Newman. “Success is based on addressing the challenges unique to a particular organization and tailoring policies to meet employee needs.” OM


BOB LEVOY'S NEWEST BOOK “222 SECRETS OF HIRING, MANAGING AND RETAINING GREAT EMPLOYEES IN HEALTHCARE PRACTICES” WAS PUBLISHED BY JONES & BARTLETT PUBLISHERS. YOU CAN REACH HIM BY E-MAIL AT B.LEVOY@ATT.NET.

Optometric Management, Issue: September 2009