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The Secret Ingredient is...Psychology


The Hawaii Psychological Association (HPA) recently celebrated its 14th annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards. We were honored to have the opportunity to formally recognize the excellence of the award candidates and the exemplary workplaces they represent.

As psychologists, consultants, students of psychology and educators—HPA’s commitment to wellness in the community is firmly anchored in the efforts of the Psychology in the Workplace Network, under the guidance of the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence.

Each of us is influenced by our respective workplaces and by those around us who are, in their turn, influenced by their workplaces. Workplace wellness has ripple effects and systemic impact across many domains touched by the science of our field. Our efforts to support growth, resilience and humanity in the successful workplace stand to feed back into the betterment of our community, ourselves and in the individual lives of our clients, patients, students, mentors and loved ones.

For example, on the cover of Tuesday’s Star Advertiser was the headline, “Job’s wellness program pays off for whole family.” The article focuses on a family, the mother of which committed to her employer’s wellness program, a program that permits her to exercise on company time, provides a company gymnasium for employee use, and classes, mentoring and a company trainer, enabling her to lose 70 pounds. That company? A former winner in HPA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards program, ALTRES Staffing.

One important thing to note, though, is that what separates Hawaii’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards program from other “healthy workplace awards programs” is psychology. Therefore, we look at things like employee recognition, growth and involvement, work-life balance, community engagement and communication. Corporate wellness initiatives are very important, but not sufficient to have the desired, bottom-line impact that organizations are seeking. The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards program is a holistic program of psychological well-being, not just a “best places to work” award.

This year, members of our committee conducted a program evaluation to examine the ways in which our Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards program has affected participating organizations and their employees since 2003. Responses from participating organizations have led us to conclude that Hawaii’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards program has had lasting effects on companies, employees and their families, with more than half of participating organizations adding or enhancing wellness initiatives across all areas of psychological health and wellness.

Over the past 13 years, we’ve had the privilege of recognizing more than 70 organizations that have demonstrated some remarkable practices. The organizations honored have included everything from active duty military ships, moving companies, banks and high-tech organizations to insurance and construction companies.

Despite the range of fields and industries and the different challenges each organization faces in surviving and creating a healthy workplace, you’ll find a number of characteristics common to all of them:

  • A strong sense of community- People are engaged and involved.
  • Trust- Management and staff trust and respect each other.
  • Communication- employees know what’s going on, have a say in what and how things are done, and know they will be heard.

The organizations that have been recognized by the American Psychological Association and its affiliated state, provincial and territorial psychological associations across the U.S. and Canada are on the leading edge of a growing trend. They recognize that healthy workplaces make good sense in every manner: financially, ethically and morally.

These organizations don’t just survive, they thrive, and are leaders in their industries. They are great places to work, not in spite of the workplace practices, but BECAUSE of them. People are their greatest asset, and they know it and act on it!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Jeffrey Stern published on June 3, 2015 8:55 AM.

Applications of Psychology to the Workplace: Developing Healthy Aggression (Part 1) was the previous entry in this blog.

Applications of Psychology to the Workplace: Developing Healthy Aggression (Part 2) is the next entry in this blog.

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