January 2010 Archives
I'm thrilled to announce that we've confirmed the keynote speaker for APA's 2010 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award Ceremony [drum roll, please...]The Honorable Alexis M. Herman
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor
We were fortunate enough to have Secretary Herman deliver the address at our inaugural event back in 2006 and given what's been going on in the economy since then, we thought it was a great time to bring her back.
As secretary, she focused on a prepared workforce, a secure workforce, and quality workplaces. With that mandate in mind, she consolidated the Department’s wide array of skills development programs into a simpler, more efficient system. She led the effort to institute a global child labor standard; moved people from welfare to work with dignity and launched the most aggressive unemployed youth initiative since the 1970’s. Under her tenure unemployment in the country reached a thirty-year low and the nation witnessed the safest workplace record in the history of the Department of Labor. Herman’s actions as secretary were a reflection of her understanding of the needs of America’s workers and the challenges they faced as this nation approached the 21st Century.
A successful businesswoman and authority on the evolving workforce, Secretary Herman will speak to today's issues, including competition, work-life issues and the importance of creating a healthy workplace as we head into the economic recovery.
After reading Adam Werbach’s book Strategy for Sustainability I was impressed with his writing style, use of examples, and how easy it would be for any manager to take something away from it. I actually used the book in a recent e-newsletter article, Sustainability: Achieving the Competitive Advantage. Here’s a video of Adam, CEO for Saatchi & Saatchi S, explaining how strategy for sustainability must be driving the organization’s bottom line and how imperative it is to get employees engaged. He also touches on whole-systems thinking and the examples he uses are very relevant.
Check it out – it will only take four minutes of your day and have you thinking about it long after.
I came across a couple of interesting articles this week. One was on gainsharing, and the other was on creating a flexible workplace. On the surface, there appears to be no real similarity between the two topics. However, when you start to drill down a little deeper, there is one key theme that ties the two articles together.
In the gainsharing article, the author discusses gainsharing as a practice that, for all intents and purposes, ties employee involvement practices to employee recognition practices. In the flexible workplace article, the author ties work-life balance practices to health and safety practices. There are likely numerous other examples in which practices from the five psychologically healthy workplace practice categories (which also include employee growth and development) are integrated to create more comprehensive organizational programs.
All too often, it seems that organizations want to emphasize what they have accomplished in one area, rather than looking to see how the five areas overlap and influence each other. For example, many organizations hold up their wellness programs, with an emphasis on health risk assessments, weight loss and smoking cessation, as a sign that they care about the health and well-being of their employees, but they then do little to give employees more autonomy in the workplace, input into decision making, opportunities for career development, recognition for their accomplishments or opportunities for workplace flexibility.
Each of the five workplace practice categories can have a positive contribution to employee health and well-being and organizational effectiveness. However, each also meets a specific set of needs that employees have. Employee involvement practices meet employee needs for autonomy and input, and work-life balance practices meet employee needs for personal resource allocation (especially in allocating resources to work and non-work life). Recognition practices meet employee needs to feel accomplished and valued, while health and safety practices meet physical and mental health needs. Employee growth and development practices meet employee needs to expand one’s professional repertoire and advancement options.
The five categories of practices all meet different types of employee needs, so excelling in one type of practice is insufficient in creating a comprehensive psychologically healthy workplace. As we move into a new year, I hope that more organizations will take a systemic approach to creating a psychologically healthy workplace. This approach requires combining individual practices from each of the five categories and aligns them with them organization’s vision, structure and culture. There is no better way for an organization to create sustainable competitive advantage than by creating practices, processes and programs that leverage the uniqueness of that organization.