APA Center for Organizational Excellence: Good Company

Resources for Employers

Good Company Blog

February 2011 Archives


I first became aware of the extra-ordinary culture of the Paul Mitchell schools through my visit to North Haven Academy, a partner school of Paul Mitchell, in Connecticut. Acting as co-chair of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award committee in CT, I had the opportunity to interview owners Laura and Mario Landino and receive an in-depth tour of their academy. It was during this tour, and through my conversations with staff and their student ‘professionals in training,’ that I learned of the unique and visionary workplace philosophy, culture and values of the Paul Mitchell training academies.

A fundamental mission of the Paul Mitchell schools is to provide their professionals in training with the knowledge and skills to be successful both at work and in life. They do this with intentionality, by creating positive, professional, respectful and appreciative work environments and through leading by example.

The Paul Mitchell Schools’ psychologically healthy philosophy, principles and practices are strongly influenced by the leadership of Winn Claybaugh, who is the Dean of Education for Paul Mitchell Schools. He shares his principles and work/life philosophy in his book Be Nice or Else which is required reading for all future professionals. An example of these principles are the Golden Rules, two of which are: Gossip is Not Allowed and Hold Each Other Accountable. These rules, along with the Paul Mitchell mission, values, professional and life success strategies are clearly communicated throughout each Academy. The Paul Mitchell schools impressively use diverse mediums and techniques of communication, such as numerous visual aids, classes, Master’s monthly motivational CD’s; and spot coaching to educate and reinforce these fundamental principles.

The American Psychological Association has identified employee recognition as one of the five types of psychologically healthy workplace practices in promoting employee well-being and organizational performance. A hallmark practice of the Paul Mitchell Schools that I found unique and impressive in this area is their practice known as “Facing.” This refers to: find what’s working; acknowledge; celebrate; and enjoy. Staff and professionals in training recognize one another for such professional considerations as a job well done, a positive attitude that made a difference and customer/personal support when needed. They also recognize their employees and students through Learning Leader, Day Maker and Student of the Month awards.

Also noteworthy is the Paul Mitchell schools’ simple yet very effective approach to cultivating employee involvement (another healthy workplace practice) and clear, open communication. This is accomplished through each school’s practice of morning meetings, in which daily goals are set, expectations communicated and teamwork fostered. Weekly management and monthly town hall meetings provide additional opportunities for employees and students to provide feedback, collaborate on decision-making and publicly recognize individual, team, management and the Academy’s achievements and successes.

What psychologically healthy workplace practices do you find particularly valuable and enjoyable?

Photo Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/12635485@N07 / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Recently, the Gallup organization studied 168 workers to discover the impact of employee engagement on work behavior. This study is detailed in Well Being: The Five Essential Elements, by Tom Rath & Jim Harter.  As part of the study, the participants were provided with handheld devices to alert them at random times during the workday. At that point, they provided information about what they were doing, who they were with, and answered several mood related questions. They also wore heart rate monitors and provided saliva samples to test for physical parameters of well-being.

There was a distinct difference between employees who were engaged and happy with their work and those who were disengaged. The employees who were engaged had less stress and reported higher levels of interest throughout the day. Disengaged employees showed an increase in happiness and lessening stress toward the end of the day. It appeared that they were just waiting for work to be over to be able to enjoy their life.

This difference resulted in marked differences in health outcomes. Those individuals who were disengaged from their work were twice as likely to be diagnosed as depressed as those who enjoyed their work. In addition, increased engagement at work was associated with improvements in cholesterol and blood pressure readings.

The cost of illness for the workplace is multidimensional. In addition to the cost of medical treatment, workers who are ill are absent from work more frequently are not as productive. The psychologically healthy workplaces that increase worker engagement reap benefits on many levels.


It never ceases to amaze me how the first thing some people say when trying to apply for a professional job is that they are good at multitasking. I’m not talking about walking and chewing gum at the same time, I’m talking about those folks who insist they can do two or more things that require effort at the same time.

When someone attempts to sell me on their multitasking skills, I simply respond by asking them, “Do you know how much your performance suffers when you do that?” I usually get the ‘you have no idea what you’re talking about’ look. And that’s where the conversation ends.

But, don’t take my word for it. The scholarly research is on my side on this one. For example, Paul Atchey, a Cognitive Psychologist, reports that performance can drop by as much as 40%.

Most of the published research uses a laboratory design with undergraduates performing tasks that have very little real-world application. However, my colleagues and I recently completed a study simulating the task of responding to emails while listening to voicemail messages.

People engage in this type of behavior all the time, and it seems simple enough. However, our results indicated that performance accuracy on email tasks decreases when you try to do that task and listen to your voicemail messages at the same time. You don’t slow down, but you make more mistakes. Furthermore, when trying to do two tasks at the same time, you experience greater stress from the tasks than if you do them sequentially, and then, not surprisingly you end up in a worse mood afterward.

The funny thing is that most people don’t even know they aren’t good at multitasking. They may report that they did just fine on a task but their performance says otherwise.

What does all this mean?

On the employee side, if your job requires you to multitask constantly, you might consider whether this has implications for your overall well-being, both mentally and physically. You also might consider whether there are ways to exercise some control over your work environment to minimize the need to multitask.

On the employer side, be cautious about hiring people who claim to enjoy multitasking. They may not be performing at optimal levels, and there may be corresponding costs to their health and well-being over the long term. Furthermore, most managers believe in the multitasking myth, so if you are one of them, you are likely creating an environment that requires or promotes multitasking. This may have unintended negative performance consequences for your employees and your department’s overall performance.

Employees, employers, I want to hear your take on multitasking. If you think multitasking is a good idea, tell me why. I want to hear the other side.

Photo Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryantron / CC BY-ND 2.0


Join worksite wellness expert Larry S. Chapman, MPH, for the pre-conference training session at our upcoming Psychologically Healthy Workplace Conference.

Friday, April 8, 2011
8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The Westin O'Hare
Chicago, IL


  • What characteristics define a wellness-oriented work culture
  • Eight domains that need to be addressed to promote employee wellness
  • Specific interventions that promote and support a wellness-oriented work culture
  • How to plan an approach that will work in your own organization or in client companies you consult with

Employers are learning about the importance worksite wellness and many have begun significant initiatives to create wellness-supporting work cultures. In this four (4) hour pre-conference workshop, participants will have an opportunity to explore, discuss and apply a multi-pronged pragmatic approach to creating a wellness-oriented work culture.

Based on his consulting work with more than 1,000 employers, Larry will present a pragmatic, multi-pronged approach to creating wellness-oriented work cultures. After reviewing some foundational concepts and the business case rationale for the need to create wellness-oriented work cultures, participants will help formulate a vision for the desired organizational outcomes of such an effort. Next, Larry will present an eight-part approach to the creation of wellness-oriented work cultures. The approach includes the following domains:

  1. Communications
  2. Incentives
  3. Policy
  4. Leadership
  5. Virtual support
  6. Environment
  7. Revising norms
  8. Evaluation

Recommended interventions will be identified for each of these domains. Finally, a case study organization will be used to provide an opportunity for participants to apply the approach in small groups and then discuss with other participants.

For more information about the conference, or to register online, click here.

About the Presenter

Larry S. Chapman, MPH, currently serves as President and CEO of Chapman Institute. Throughout his career, Larry has provided thought leadership and consulting services on integrating health cost management, plan design, incentive systems and organized prevention programming for worksite, managed care and community-based populations. He has spent more than 30 years improving the health of employees and their family members and managing employee health costs. Formally educated in environmental health, medical technology and medical care organization at UCLA and the University of Michigan, he has developed more than 1,000 employee wellness programs including more than 200 wellness financial incentive programs. An internationally recognized expert and speaker on innovative health management interventions, he has published 13 books and more than 190 professional articles and columns. A consultant and advisor to the United States Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a variety of private organizations, he is also the editor of the Art of Health Promotion published in the American Journal of Health Promotion. Until recently he has served as Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board for Summex Health Management, which was acquired by WebMD in 2006. Larry served as a Senior Vice President at WebMD until January, 2010 and he continues to assist WebMD to strengthen its role as a market leader in the wellness field. His current area of specialization includes innovative approaches to worksite wellness. 



  • Bookmark and Share

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2011 is the previous archive.

March 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.