Workplace wellbeing is on everyone’s lips and most organisations are concentrating their response on the symptoms by providing tertiary care, awareness courses, providing Yoga, Meditation and one to one help. All commendable, but that’s a bit like bailing water out of an overflowing bath and not turning the taps off.
There is however an alternative view gaining ground. ‘What you can’t measure you can’t change’
To successfully reduce the negative outcomes associated with the interaction of working practices and humans. We should look at the reasons for the pressures and the perceptions that these pressures have on employees.
By collecting and analyzing the data organisations can implement efficient remedial programs. Repeated test cases demonstrate that there are huge financial and societal benefits to be gained.
Psychosocial risks are present in working environments, where a poor social values, communication channels, poor work design and management skills exist. Where combinations of these factors exist, they may result in negative psychological, physical and social outcomes such as work-related stress, burnout or depression.
The Health and Safety Executive identified the pressure points that are inherent in every organisation, at some level, that accounts for conditions leading to psychosocial risks they are:
Demands: Excessive workloads when Employees indicate that they are able to cope with the demands of their working environment; and there are no processes are in place to react to concerns. However it is important not to confuse psychosocial risks such as excessive workload with conditions where, although stimulating and sometimes challenging, there is a supportive work environment in which workers are well trained and motivated to perform to the best of their ability.
- Control: When employees feel a lack of involvement in making decisions that affect them and lack any influence over the working practices
- Change:, The organization should engage with employees frequently when undergoing an organisational change; and processes should be in place locally to respond to any individual concerns. Lack of communication leading to job insecurity
- Support:, lack of support from management or colleagues. Lack of training or recourses to complete a task and processes are not in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.
- Role: Where Employees understand their role and responsibilities and reporting processes are not in place locally, when asked to perform tasks outside their expertise.
- Relationships: Employees should not be subjected to unacceptable behaviors, e.g. bullying at work; and processes should be in place locally to respond to any individual concerns
- Culture: Most organizations grow organically and are so focused on growth that suitable working practices are not embedded in the cultural environment. This allows the above pressures to exist
The outcome of poor psychosocial risk management affects the wellbeing of all.
A good psychosocial environment enhances good performance and personal development, as well as employees’ mental and physical well-being. People experience stress when the unremitting pressures of their working environment are excessive and greater than their capacity to cope with them.
In addition to mental health problems, workers suffering from prolonged stress can go on to develop serious physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease or musculoskeletal problems.
For the organisation, that ignore managing psychosocial risk the negative effects include poor productivity, increased absenteeism and presenteeism, staff turnover.
Estimates of the cost to businesses and society are significant at £104 billion per year.
To compare how your organisation is performing against the national UK average visit www.workingforwellbeing.co.uk and use their free calculator.
Author Francis McGinty Bsc (hons) Psyc. .23rd June 2017