The benchmarks for a psychologically healthy workplace

The capital was the meeting place as the American Psychological Association honored companies which have risen to the occasion, making the workplace a bit more manageable in a time of tumult. It’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards were handed out to five organizations for their efforts to “promote employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance.”

I look forward to the awards and the fresh statistics from the APA every year on this topic because I think it’s a needed reminder that we are human beings at work, and not just cogs in the wheel of the corporate machine. Since I started blogging on programs, people and companies three years ago that are making “the work life merge a more positive journey of exploration,” the APA has been one of the more consistent streams of information connecting the human experience to the working experience.

With cash-strapped companies looking for a helping hand rather then generally lending one to employees, work life initiatives and wellness programs have a hard time carrying much weight. But as the business imperative is revealed more and more in the spreadsheets, and in employee retention, engagement and productivity, perhaps we have reason to be more optimistic that companies will take notice.

The five organizations honored this year reported a turnover rate of just 9%, in contrast to the national average of 41 % as estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s cash in the bank for those companies which can concentrate more on growth and productivity rather than just struggling in the arena of recovery.

The proof was often in the bottom-line and/or positive employee productivity for the companies that scored high on the APA benchmark scale for A Psychologically Healthy Workplace. Here’s a sampling of some of the outcomes in companies that implemented a variety of work life initiatives:

  • American Cast Iron Pipe Company:  Positive health outcomes. Hundred of employees have quit smoking, more than a thousand began an exercise program and hundreds more lowered their blood pressure to within normal limits.
  • Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare: Employees have made significant strides in morale, job satisfaction and work efficiency and the company has seen major improvements in its customer relations, operating margin, turnover and productivity.
  • Leaders Bank: Since the roll-out of its wellness program, sick day utilization has decreased with employees now using an average of only 1.4 sick days per year.
  • Advanced Solutions: Voluntary turnover dropped from 7.9 percent in 2008 to 4.1 percent in 2009 and measures of employee engagement have steadily increased.
  • The Toronto Police Service: Improvements in equipment and training provided to uniformed employees have led to a decline in the average number of days lost to workplace injury, keeping officers on the job and contributing to their families and communities.

Read more about the topic at the Good Company Blog.

In this weeks WorkLife Nation Webisode, you’ll hear about the inner workings of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace.

  • Marly

    Wow, a national turnover rate of 41%? What does that say about working in this country? It does seem like so many people I talk to today are unhappy in their jobs – and most of it is related to culture issues, not the work itself.