Monday, March 19, 2012

Feeling Valued at Work Linked to Well-Being and Performance

Half of all employees who say that they do not feel valued at work report that they intend to look for a new job in the next year according to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA). Conducted online among 1,714 adults between January 12 and 19, 2012 on behalf of the APA by Harris Interactive, the survey found that employees who feel valued are more likely to report better physical and mental health, as well as higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and motivation, compared to those who do not feel valued by their employers.

Almost all employees (93 percent) who reported feeling valued said that they are motivated to do their best at work and 88 percent reported feeling engaged. This compares to just 33 percent and 38 percent, respectively, of those who said they do not feel valued. Among employees who feel valued, just one in five (21 percent) said they intend to look for a new job in the next year (vs. 50 percent of those who said that they do not feel valued).

A variety of factors were linked to feeling undervalued at work, including having fewer opportunities for involvement in decision making (24 percent vs. 84 percent), being less satisfied with the potential for growth and advancement (9 percent vs. 70 percent), having fewer opportunities to use flexible work arrangements (20 percent vs. 59 percent) and being less likely to say they are receiving adequate monetary compensation (18 percent vs. 69 percent) and non-monetary rewards (16 percent vs. 65 percent).

Overall, more than one in five (21 percent) working Americans said they do not feel valued by their employers.

Stress at Work

Many Americans continue to report chronic work stress, with two out of five (41 percent) employees reporting that they typically feel tense or stressed out during the workday. Commonly cited causes of work stress include low salaries (46 percent), lack of opportunities for growth or advancement (41 percent), too heavy a workload (41 percent), long hours (37 percent) and unclear job expectations (35 percent).

Psychologically Healthy Workplaces

Despite ongoing business challenges and employment issues that are clearly ripe for improvement, according to the American Psychological Association some employers have seized the opportunity to create a healthy culture where employees and the organization can thrive. In recognition of those employers who understand the link between employee well-being and organizational performance, the American Psychological Association will recognize 11 organizations at its seventh annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards in Washington, DC, on Saturday March 10.

The employers who will receive the American Psychological Association’s 2012 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award are Noble-Davis Consulting (Ohio), ReMed Recovery Care Centers (Pennsylvania), Certified Angus Beef (Ohio), College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia and Coconino County (Arizona).

These employers reported an average turnover rate of just 11 percent in 2011 – significantly less than the national average of 36 percent as estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor. Surveys completed by the winning organizations show that only 24 percent of employees reported experiencing chronic work stress compared to 41 percent nationally, and 80 percent of employees reported being satisfied with their job vs. 70 percent in the general population. Additionally, 78 percent of employees said they would recommend their organization to others as a good place to work compared to 63 percent, and only 14 percent said they intend to seek employment elsewhere within the next year, compared to 28 percent nationally.

“The business world is in the midst of a sea change,” says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “Successful organizations have learned that high performance and sustainable results require attention to the relationships among employee, organization, customer and community. Forward-thinking employers such as our 2012 award winners are taking steps to create a positive organizational culture where employees feel valued and, in turn, help drive bottom-line results.”

The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards are designed to recognize organizations for their efforts to foster employee well-being while enhancing organizational performance. The program has both local- and national-level components. APA’s PHWA spans North America and is designed to showcase the very best from among the winners recognized by APA’s affiliated state, provincial and territorial psychological associations. Nominees are selected from a pool of previous local winners and evaluated on their workplace practices in the areas of employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, work-life balance and employee recognition. Additional factors that are considered include employee attitudes and opinions; the role of communication in the organization; and the benefits realized in terms of both employee health and organizational performance. Awards are given to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations as well as government, military and educational institutions.

In addition to the PHWA winners, nine organizations will receive Best Practices Honors for a single program or policy that contributes to a psychologically healthy work environment and meets the unique needs of the organization and its employees. The honorees are Chimes Delaware, Newark Vocational Facility (Delaware), Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus (Arkansas), Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Northwest (Oregon), Koinonia Homes (Ohio), Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, LSS Financial Counseling Service (Minnesota) and Orion Associates (Minnesota). PHWA winners Certified Angus Beef, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia and ReMed Recovery Care Centers will also receive Best Practices Honors.

“The 2012 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award winners have implemented programs and policies that enhance functioning for both employee and employer,” says Norman B. Anderson, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association. “Their efforts demonstrate the power of a healthy work environment and prove that any type of organization can create a psychologically healthy workplace.”

Read the original article and learn more about the survey at the American Psychological Association's website.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bullying Training Videos

Blog readers,

I received the following email from Dr. Deborah Schneider from the US Dept of State. She was kind enough to share some videos with me that could be used as conversation starters during a training about workplace bullying. She says I can share them you - so here you are!

Hello, I ran across your website today and was so pleased to find it! Last year I was part of an interagency group of federal employees who took up the problem of bullying in the workplace, as part of developmental leadership training. One of our results was a set of video "conversation starters" about what bullying in the workplace might look like. They are an open source resource for anyone who would like to use them.
Dr. Deborah Schneider 
Special Advisor
U.S. Department of State

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Creating Healthy Workplaces: When Good Intentions Go Awry

Many successful and high-functioning organizations are committed to developing healthy workplaces and demonstrate the positive outcomes these initiatives have on employees and the organization. At the same time, there are organizations that strive to create a healthy workplace and fall short. Many of these organizations are led by very enthusiastic and effective leaders, but they seem to have missed something along the way.

How do these well-meaning leaders inadvertently create unhealthy workplaces? Why do some self-acclaimed “healthy” workplaces go astray? There are several pitfalls that can occur when trying to create and sustain psychologically healthy workplaces.

Pitfalls in Developing Healthy Workplaces

Allowing enthusiasm to go awry

One key aspect of transformational leadership is “inspirational motivation” (Bass, 1990; Bass & Riggio, 2006), which involves motivating people by displaying enthusiasm, “providing meaning and challenge to their followers’ work,” arousing individual and team spirit and “envision[ing] attractive future states” (Bass et al., 2003, p. 208). That is, enthusiasm is key to effective transformational leadership. Moreover, when we are passionate about our work, this enthusiasm can be contagious. However, ironically, we sometimes compromise employees’ autonomy and health while on the journey to a healthy workplace. In our enthusiasm to do our jobs, there is always the tendency to push too much, ignoring the perspectives of others. Sometimes we need to step back and look at the situation from the viewpoint of employees and colleagues, in order to put our actions and motivations into perspective. Enthusiasm isn’t bad… we just need to use it wisely to help engage and motivate others to create a healthy work environment, without overwhelming them.

Having a “we are already healthy” attitude

Organizational leaders who believe they have attained the status of a healthy workplace and stop thinking about it really don’t have a healthy workplace at all. We need to view workplace health in the same manner that we view personal health: We can’t stop exercising and start eating junk food once we’ve attained “health.” Like personal health, organizational health is an on-going process. Not only do leaders who take on this attitude risk being complacent, but they have missed a central tenet in the healthy workplace literature – a healthy workplace is as much an attitude and process as it is an outcome.

Forcing healthy practices on employees

Many leaders focus their healthy workplace initiatives around encouraging and maintaining health and fitness goals. This focus is important within the larger psychologically healthy workplace, but what about when “encouraging” becomes “enforcing”? At one organization, employees confided that their health-conscious boss would police employees’ lunches and throw out any junk food brought to work. How healthy is a workplace that has such a dictator-like (albeit well-meaning) boss?

Read the rest of this article by Arla Day, PhD, on the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program website.