Editor's Note: Working in a healthy place

January 26, 2002
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Stress doesn’t hide from the workplace. The uncertainties and rapid changes of today can seriously impact the effectiveness and productivity of organizations—and employees individually. In addition to the normal pressure for growth and success, other factors come into play such as mergers, competition, relocations, information overload—and in today’s world—downsizing and terrorism. All of these factors can create stress in the workplace. However, working in a psychologically healthy workplace is achievable.

I learned recently about the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award. An interesting concept, I thought: psychologically healthy workplaces, something that, perhaps, could be more of a buzz in any industry.

Even if you’re not interested in winning such an award, the American Psychological Association notes that there are other bottom-line benefits to the mentally healthy workplace. How about increasing productivity, resourcefulness and creativity? Improving morale, performance and outlook? Reducing stress, absenteeism and inefficiency? How about transforming employees, your business and your bottom line? Sound good? I thought so.

Constantly hiring and training employees is a very expensive process. A psychologically healthy workplace is one of the best ways to reduce turnover and keep valuable employees healthy, happy and productive. A company need not implement espresso machines, masseuses or Bring Your Dog To Work Day. Simple (but good) business qualities can lend to a healthier workplace, including a quality company vision, employee involvement in decision making, flexible hours, and workshops or classes available for employee growth and development.

How about a company mission statement? If you don’t have one, get one. And make sure your employees understand it. When employees and managers know what they are working toward, it helps their drive, the profit of the company and the health of everyone.

Evaluate Your Company

Does your company:

  • Institute flexible policies that consider personal and family needs?
  • Provide quality and flexible benefits plans?
  • Maintain ongoing programs to monitor and evaluate job satisfaction?
  • Develop clear, candid communications?
  • Provide training programs that teach job skills and prepare employees for career advancement and leadership?
  • Treat employees fairly and honestly?
  • Reward and recognize both individual and team performance?
  • Foster an attitude of concern for quality, service and ethical behavior?
  • Give employees a voice in decisions?
  • Make health and safety a top priority?
  • Provide a fair employee performance evaluation system that gives feedback and enhances performance?
  • Provide programs to deal with the prevention and consequences of workplace stress and conflict?

We all want to be happy at work, and we all want our companies to be healthy and profitable. If you find your company lacking in any of the above areas, sit down with your manager or employees. And have a healthy talk.

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