What Is Understood About “Psychologically Healthy Workplaces”

After much deliberation, I have decided to take the plunge and write “my blog” on the state of employee mental health services in today’s workplace as well as looking at those conditions which lead to negative employee behavioural issues in the workplace!

It has been a torturous journey to come to this decision, full of ‘Yes I should write it”, to “No I don’t want to because it’s just going to be too much work!” For us the tipping point came after seeing more and more apparently competent employees in my office and those offices of my business partners; being stressed out, depressed and otherwise unhappy. The employee was often accompanied by a family member who was worried sick about their partner. The severity & chronicity of the employee issues were exacerbated by the generalized view that their employers really weren’t interested in them personally and any of their concerns. So really for me; it came down to “somebody has to write about it”.

Clearly from our experience, employees felt that in this recent recession; they were the ones who got squeezed to be more productive by their employers, with staff reductions, leading to employees having to do more work with fewer resources.  Employees felt that they were required to work longer hours for no more pay – or else were forced to take actual unpaid days off. Employees saw many of their organizations as callous often telling staff they should be happy just to have a job. Lastly, most employees felt civility & respect in the workplace had declined markedly during this recession. * See American Psychological Association workplace survey.  www.apa.org or better yet the Conference Board of Canada’s research report on “Building Mentally Healthy Workplaces”. We have this paper which we can share with you on request.  It truly is an amazing report!

Meantime all those negative employee responses to the APA survey are not good news for organizations who will soon try to take advantage of the developing economic recovery with seriously frustrated & upset workers.

As the economies of the world fitfully emerge from this brutal recession many business pundits talk about the need for organizations to be more nimble; ready to move in any direction their business takes them. In order to meet these lofty goals organizations will need engaged, motivated, creative & healthy (in both mind & body) employees. I don’t see very often these organizational values on exhibition in today’s work world. Most organizations will talk the talk – as just about every mission statement talks about employees as crucial to organizational success – but they do not walk the walk – they don’t believe it, live it, enforce it or project it!

On the hopeful side of this equation reside a small but growing number of advanced organizations who have already instituted or begun the process of turning their organization into the “Psychologically Healthy Workplaces” of the 21’st century. Many of these organizations have already begun to skim the best and most talented employees from their competitors.

These enlightened organizations have done the reviews of the literature, often setup and measured their own internal metrics, looked at the various ROI studies and finally really integrated those human employee values they espoused into their corporate culture.

Employees always know whether these corporate culture values are believed and lived in the organization or just meant to be feel good window dressing.

So proceeding forward I hope that this blog can be interactive as I try in my way to explore all the pros & cons of this seismic shift in how mental health and employee behavioural issues are thought about, planned for and addressed in the advancing modern workplace.

Ron Sparrow, MSW, RSW

Principal, Source Line Inc.

Direct # 416-923-0868 ext.227 / Cell 416-738-7392




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