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The award ceremony may have been a formal affair, but the tone of this year’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards reception was set by the guy in a giant blue stress ball costume who bounced his way into the party and kept the crowd entertained with free hugs and photo ops. Everyone wanted to know, “Who is this guy?”

As you can see in the video “Putting the Squeeze on Work Stress” which features the stress ball interviewing people on the street about their work experiences, for him, job security is not an issue. “There’s always going to be stress, so I’m always going to be employed,” he says.

The stress ball dispenser was also center stage at the reception and a big hit with the kiddos and the young at heart. Check out photos from the reception by clicking the image, below.

View photos from the 2013 awards reception
View photos from APA's 2013 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards

Values matter. When a team shares values, it generally performs better, with employees who are engaged and committed to the organization’s success and leaders who strive to create a positive work environment where employees can thrive.

The uncertainty of health care reform and its implications for the future of employer-sponsored health insurance, as well as provisions in the Affordable Care Act that allow for increased use of incentives and premium differentials to drive health behavior change, have amplified the volume of employers who are beating the drum of “personal responsibility” when it comes to workplace health and productivity.

While the value of employees who are invested in their own well-being cannot be overstated, expecting them to make significant and sustainable behavior changes without the necessary resources and support is unrealistic and serves as nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at cost shifting. Just as shared values can help foster performance and success, shared responsibility for creating a psychologically healthy workplace promotes an organizational culture in which employer and employee look out for each other’s best interests. With this approach, individual health improvement efforts get better results, because they are supported by the larger system and organizational-level practices are more effective, because they are consistent with, and driven by, individual behaviors.

To showcase employers who value employee well-being and understand its link to organizational performance, APA recently presented its 2013 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards (PHWAs) and Best Practices Honors. The four PHWA winners described here reported an average turnover rate of just 6 percent in 2012—significantly less than the national average of 38 percent, as estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor.

In surveys completed by the winning organizations, on average, fewer than one in five employees (19 percent) reported experiencing chronic work stress, compared to 35 percent nationally, and 84 percent of employees said they were satisfied with their job, versus 67 percent in the general population. Additionally, 77 percent of employees said they would recommend their organization to others as a good place to work compared to 57 percent, and only 11 percent said they intend to seek employment elsewhere within the next year, compared to almost three times as many (31 percent) nationally.

It will come as no surprise that in our award-winning organizations, an average of 80 percent of employees say their values and those of their employer are very similar, compared to just 50 percent nationally. We congratulate our winners and hope that sharing their stories inspires others to work together for a healthy and prosperous future.

View photos from the 2013 awards event.

Photo Credit: Larry Canner Photography


With our Chicago conference just six weeks away, we’re putting the final touches in place for an outstanding learning experience.

Organizations are looking for ways to position themselves for success in the changing world of work and we want to make sure that attendees come away with practical, concrete tips for helping their employees and organizations thrive.

We’ve assembled a collection of top experts to discuss timely, relevant topics that are designed to help you enhance performance and well-being in the workplace. Check out the program descriptions, below.

Work & Well-Being 2013: Chicago
April 25-26

Eventbrite - Work & Well-Being 2013: Chicago

Presented by the American Psychological Association's
Center for Organizational Excellence

The conference is designed especially for human resource professionals, benefits managers, health and wellness professionals, business consultants, occupational health professionals, health plan executives, corporate medical directors, business owners, managers and psychologists who work with organizations.

Pre-Conference Training Session:

Best Practices in Critical Incident Response for the Workplace
Bob VandePol, Crisis Care Network

When tragedy strikes the workplace, behavioral health professionals play an important role in onsite consultation aimed to facilitate individual and organizational resilience and return-to-productivity. Business leaders increasingly value strategic application of Psychological First Aid principles for their employee groups as a means of mitigating both the human and financial costs associated with critical incidents. This session will address practical strategies for applying evidence-based practices to the delivery of services in a way that empowers leaders, work groups and individual employees. Learn more.

Main Conference:

Growth and Impact of Financial Incentives in Worksite Wellness
David R. Anderson, PhD, LP, StayWell Health Management

Encouraged by health care reform, employers are increasingly integrating wellness incentives into their health plans. While they have potential benefits, incentives can have unintended consequences. They may increase participation but reduce success by attracting participants not ready to change, and incentives intended as “carrots” may be viewed as manipulative “sticks.” However, well-designed incentives may be a useful tactic in a culture-based wellness strategy. This session reviews incentive use in worksite wellness and discusses evidence-based strategies for optimizing their impact on health. Based on worksite experience and research, the session encourages tying rewards to achieving progress-based steps in “outcomes-based” incentive programs.

Blending Technology and Customization for Successful Well-Being Outcomes
Briana Boehmer, Salus Corporate Wellness

In both the corporate and athletic world, success comes through hours of individualized attention to detail. This session will explore successful well-being outcomes seen through individualized and highly interactive programming made possible via blending technology with hands-on and on-site services. The program will include results from programs implemented for both small and mid-sized employers and offer suggestions on how to implement similar programs. Special attention will be given to identifying technologies that can facilitate individualized measures and programming, utilizing real time data to better understand the needs of employees and customizing programming that has the potential to reach each employees on an individual basis.

Love of the Job
E. Kevin Kelloway, PhD, Saint Mary’s University

This presentation will introduce new research that defines "love of the job" and identifies the predictors and health-related outcomes of loving one’s job. The session will include a review of organizational attitude research, present a three-component model of love of the job, describe the four main predictors of loving one's job and discuss the consequences for both employees and organizations.

Healthy Employees, Profitable Bottom Lines: Delivering on the Value of Health Promotion and Worksite Wellness
Rebecca Kelly, PhD, RD, CDE, University of Alabama

Organizations are searching for innovative strategies to control rising health care costs while also providing programs to engage their workforce and members. Employers must identify and adopt strategies that include health improvement and wellness programs to address rising health care costs and productivity losses. As an expert in the field of health promotion and wellness with over 20 years of experience as a practitioner and leader of multiple nationally recognized programs, the presenter will outline a practical and innovative approach to engaging employees in wellness programs that improve health and also yield favorable bottom line results.

Commitment: The Core of Safety, Health and Wellness
D.J. Moran, PhD, BCBA-D, Quality Safety Edge

Commitment is defined as “acting in the direction of what you care about even in the presence of obstacles.” This experiential workshop aims to sharpen your understanding of how you should be actingin order to improve safety and wellness in your organization, as well as helping you clarify what you care about in order to accelerate your motivation to work toward important goals. In addition, you will increase your skills of situational awareness and mindfulness to help you deal with the presence of obstacles that often impede leadership and dedication.

Healthy Habits, Healthy Employees: Strategies for Health Behavior Change
Cindy Wang Morris, PsyD, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Creating a culture of health begins with the practice of healthy habits. Although many employees have the desire to change their health practices, taking steps towards changing these behaviors can feel daunting. Health behavior change happens through a process of mindfulness, skills building and inspired action. Through this practice, employees can develop healthy habits in the workplace that translate into other areas of their lives. In this session, participants will learn about the process of health behavior change and ways employers can support positive change across multiple levels, including individual, organizational and environmental. Special attention will be given to the impact of obesity and tobacco use on employee health and the use of evidence-based health behavior change strategies.

Current Practices in Talent Management
Amy Owen Nieberding, PhD, S and C Electric Company
Robert Bloom, PhD, Performance Management Associates-Human Resources

The goal of integrated talent management is to build human capital capability that will enable the organization to achieve overall business objectives. Helping the organization achieve its goals must begin with the recognition that the most important challenge faced by virtually all organizations is the need to respond quickly to change in a competitive environment. This session will outline the building blocks of a talent management strategy and infrastructure. Some companies get caught in a cycle of implementing a patchwork of "best practices" without good appreciation or understanding of how to link these efforts to organization impact. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the link between a dynamic organization strategy and shifting human capital priorities.

Work-Life Fit Skills for Employee Success On and Off the Job
Cali Williams Yost, MBA, Work+Life Fit, Inc.

Knowing how to take the lead, reach out, and use work-life resources and flexibility to manage the fit between work and life is a modern skill set we all need, but few of us have. This interactive workshop will cover the trends that have converged over the last two decades that radically transformed work and life and why individuals need to partner with their employer and learn to actively manage their work+life fit. Participants will also explore the tools individuals need to manage their fit, how to deliver those tools and skills to employees, and metrics to measure success.

Employer Experiences: Lessons from Award-Winning Organizations
Helen F. Graham Cancer Center

Any type of organization, large or small, for-profit or not-for-profit, can create a workplace that fosters employee well-being while enhancing organizational performance. This session will use a case example from the Cancer Care Management Department at Christiana Care Health System's Helen F. Graham Cancer Center to demonstrate the application of psychologically healthy workplace principles in a real-world setting. Special attention will be given to the importance of custom tailoring workplace practices to meet the unique needs of an organization and its workforce, employee and organizational outcomes, practical considerations for employers and practitioners and lessons learned.

Register Early and Save

Pre-Conference Training - $150
Main Conference - $399

Eventbrite - Work & Well-Being 2013: Chicago


Pre-Conference Training
Thursday, April 25, 2013, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm

Main Conference
Thursday, April 25, 2013, 1:30 pm - Friday, April 26, 2013, 5:30 pm

Hotel Information and Reservations

The Westin O'Hare
6100 North River Road
Rosemont, IL 60018
Phone: (847) 698-6000

Group rate of $169 + tax (for single, double, triple or quad occupancy) available until April 3, 2013

Click here to make your hotel reservations

Can't make it to our Chicago event?

Join us in San Francisco in September for our fall conference, with a different line-up of speakers and sessions.

Special thanks to the following organizations for their support:

Health Enhancement Research Organization
Illinois Psychological Association
International Association for Worksite Health Promotion
Midwest Business Group on Health


For questions about the Work & Well-Being 2013 conferences, including sponsorship opportunities, please email us or call (202) 336-5900.

With 65 percent of U.S. employees citing work as a significant source of stress and more than one-third reporting that they typically feel tense or stressed out during the work day, work stress can affect both individual well-being and organizational performance. To hear more about people's experiences at work and how they cope with the stressors they face on the job, we hit the streets for a continuation of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program's interview series. This time, we took a friend with us.

To learn more about work stress, visit www.apaexcellence.org/workstress.


The Washington Business Journal recently ran an article titled Bruised and battered: Five business lessons of sequestration. Since I'm stuck at home due to Winter Storm Saturn and taking a beating from deadlines, school closings and technology challenges, I thought I'd offer a few of my own business tips from the sequester.

Before I do, if you'll indulge me, I have a little rant I need to get out of my system. "Winter Storm Saturn"? When exactly did we start naming snowstorms? Take a look at the 2012-2013 list. Euclid? I was battered by the elements back in geometry class, so don't need any more proof of his destructiveness (look it up, non-math geeks). Khan? Well, I guess Ricardo Montalbán was in Neptune's Daughter, and that planet is only separated from Saturn by the source of this whole storm-naming idea. I know...sophomoric humor, but that brings us full circle to 10th grade geometry and sources of unnecessary pain.

So, what have we learned from the latest political stalemate, other than there is no royal road to bipartisanship? Here are my "Three Leadership Lessons of Sequestration."

  1. Negotiation is about compromise. That's Business 101. While you obviously want to achieve a favorable outcome for yourself, you shouldn't expect to dig in your heels and demand that the other side bend over backwards while you refuse to give an inch. Negotiation is built on a foundation of trust. If you enter into it in bad faith, you're derailing the process before it even has a chance.
  2. It's okay to disagree, but you still have to get the job done. Productive conflict can improve your results, but if you don't look for common ground, you'll leave everyone adrift. Just because another person or organization doesn't agree with every one of your positions, don't make the mistake of assuming that there are no common interests you could pursue more effectively through collaboration.
  3. Small changes at the top disproportionately affect the rest of the organization. Have pay and benefits been frozen or slashed for your workforce over the past few years? How many employees could have gotten that cost of living increase if you hadn't fought so hard to retain those bonuses for your senior management team? Shaving a little bit off for top earners may be just a few percentage points, but for employees at a lower pay grade, many of whom say they aren't adequately compensated to begin with, that money can make a big difference.

As Jill Aitoro points out in the WBJ article that inspired this post, "Lessons typically come in retrospect." So, in closing, here's a bonus one for you. Don't chase the latest fad or buzzword. "Snowquester"? I'm a big fan of word play and even I think that's trying too hard.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/matka_Wariatka

Join Crisis Care Network President Bob VandePol for the pre-conference training session at our 2013 Work & Well-Being Conference in Chicago.

Thursday, April 25, 2013
8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The Westin O'Hare
Chicago, IL

When tragedy strikes the workplace, behavioral health professionals play an important role in onsite consultation aimed to facilitate individual and organizational resilience and return-to-productivity. Business leaders increasingly value strategic application of Psychological First Aid principles for their employee groups as a means of mitigating both the human and financial costs associated with critical incidents. This session will address practical strategies for applying evidence-based practices to the delivery of services in a way that empowers leaders, work groups and individual employees.

This session will cover:

  • The prevalence of critical incidents
  • Individual and organizational impacts
  • The history of Critical Incident Response
  • Introduction to Psychological First Aid principles
  • Small- and large-group training and exercises
  • Mass disaster response
  • Promoting personal resilience
  • Providing consultation to organizations that request critical incident response services 
  • Delivering services that are consistent with corporate culture and business objectives

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

About the Presenter

Bob VandePol, MSW serves as President of Crisis Care Network, the largest provider of Critical Incident Response Services to the workplace. Crisis Care Network responds 1,000 times per month following workplace tragedies to facilitate employee/organizational return to productivity. He consults with corporations, insurers, EAPs and behavioral health professionals regarding how to manage the behavioral risks inherent in workplace tragedies. Active as a keynote speaker, Mr. VandePol has published and been quoted in business and clinical journals, co-authored book chapters addressing workplace response to tragedy and has been featured in video training series. He managed CCN’s Command Center in Manhattan after the 2001 terrorist attacks and has led numerous leadership summits/consultations following Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech tragedy and other large-scale events regarding how employers could lead organizational recovery during crises. Mr. VandePol is a board member for the National Behavioral Consortium and co-chairs the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Taskforce.


It’s still cold and rainy here in DC, but there’s a buzz in the air. It’s a caffeinated buzz of excitement about an updated lunch pantry at the American Psychological Association.

Unveiled just last week, the pantry and eating area where employees congregate for lunch and breaks were given a facelift. Complete with new coffee machines from the eco-friendly, local Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company, a shiny new fridge, high-tech filtered water and ice dispenser, as well as a vending machine stocked with natural, healthy, organic treats. Rumor is that fresh fruits and yogurt will be added to the vending options soon! Oh, and did I mention a flat-screen TV?

The availability of healthy food, a cozy atmosphere and an occasional glance at CNBC during downtime at work are just some of the benefits of this update for employees. Focusing on what employees value is just one aspect of a healthy workplace, but one with a positive impact and high returns. Plus, helping employees make healthier decisions when it comes to food can have a larger impact on their overall health.

Although it may seem counterintuitive to the current trend of budget restrictions to offer employees perks, when employees feel valued, they perform better and creative ideas percolate. And with an office building full of psychologists and employees who work with psychologists, the sense of feeling valued by your employer is important.

Healthy options that appeal to all, what’s not to like? At the unveiling of the updated pantry, one colleague (who shall remain nameless!) inquired where to find soda among all the healthy offerings. The answer? Soda pops are now located on the next floor up, the stairs are right around the corner. This particular space was designed with health and wellness in mind with the goal of helping to make it easier for employees to make healthier decisions and shape their behavior. So it’s not that employees won’t be able to find soda if they want it, it’s that they’ll need to take an extra step to get to it, thus hopefully getting some exercise in the process, or opting for water instead.

And with a coffee maker so high tech that it grinds the beans to make a true espresso shot for each delicious cup and has a button for a super frothy cappuccino, I may never leave the office for a coffee run again.

Photo Credit: Jessica Peterson



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