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April 2011 Archives

PHWC Reflection

I recently attended the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Conference. It was the third year of the conference, and the third year of learning so many new things and networking with terrific people. This year, I decided to summarize just a few of the things I learned while I was at the conference.

  1. Inclusivity is not just about recognizing what types of diversity exist, but what diversity is missing. Joe Gerstandt did a terrific job of highlighting this point during his presentation. It was the very first time I walked out of a presentation related to diversity and didn’t feel as though only superficial concepts of diversity were discussed.
  2. Strategic benefits communication is a critical function in contemporary organizations. Jennifer Benz discussed this issue within her session at the conference. Human resource professionals are usually experts at doing human resources work – which should not come as a surprise. However, creating awareness and increasing utilization of company benefits requires solid marketing communication skills, which many human resource professionals lack.
  3. Teledyne Brown Engineering is a terrific place to work. Teledyne received APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2009. Jennifer Geist provided an overview of some of the fantastic programs the company offers. Her talk should serve as a reminder that creating a psychologically healthy workplace requires dedication and the development of unique programs tailored to an organization’s culture, structure, and workforce.
  4. A psychologically healthy workplace is not just of interest to psychologists. Conference attendees included psychologists, wellness experts, human resource professionals, training and development professionals, and senior leaders. Creating a psychologically healthy workplace should not just be the job of psychologists, but should be the job of all key stakeholders in an organization.
  5. There are some terrific students doing some terrific research. I was most drawn to the students from Texas A&M who participated in a research team that used the psychologically healthy workplace model as the foundation for institutional improvements at their university.

I learned so much more than that, but I figured I didn’t want to monopolize the conversation. It may have been the best conference experience I’ve ever had.

If you attended the conference, what did you take away from it?


The last few years have been difficult for employers and the U.S. workforce has borne much of the pain. In a 2011 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, almost two-thirds of employed Americans reported that their employers had taken steps such as putting a freeze on wages, laying off staff or reducing benefits as a result of the recession.

As we head tentatively into the economic recovery, employer confidence remains shaky. Although the economy has improved and many organizations have returned to profitability, a majority of those surveyed indicated that the cuts made at their place of employment had not yet been reversed. Many organizations continue to squeeze increasing levels of productivity from a smaller workforce that feels disengaged and unappreciated, but sees no alternative but to trudge onward. The recession, combined with the changing nature of work, may have forever altered the employee-employer relationship, but as a nation we can do better.

Some employers have faced these challenging times head on and seized the opportunity to create a healthy culture, where both employees and the organization can thrive. To highlight those organizations committed to promoting employee well-being and organizational performance, the American Psychological Association’s recently presented its 2011 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards (PHWA) and Best Practices Honors.

The eight PHWA winners have implemented a comprehensive set of workplace practices designed to optimize employee and organizational outcomes. These employers reported an average turnover rate of just 11 percent in 2010 – significantly less than the national average of 38 percent as estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor. Surveys completed by the winning organizations show that only 18 percent of employees reported experiencing chronic work stress compared to 36 percent nationally, and 87 percent of employees reported being satisfied with their job vs. 69 percent in the general population. Additionally, 86 percent of employees said they would recommend their organization to others as a good place to work compared to 53 percent, and only 6 percent said they intend to seek employment elsewhere within the next year, compared to 32 percent nationally.

We congratulate our winners and hope that their examples demonstrate how a positive organizational culture and a healthy, high-performing workforce can promote business success and a prosperous future.



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

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