January 2016   Workplace Well-Being: a practical guide

The stats are grim:

  • 70% of working Americans cited work as a significant source of stress (American Psychological Association, 2012a)
  • 41% of employees reported that they typically feel tense or stressed during the workday (American Psychological Association, 2012b)

The contributing factors are many but those most often cited include:

Low salaries, lack of opportunities for growth or advancement, heavy workloads, lengthy hours, and unclear job expectations have all been cited as contributors to employee stress (American Psychological Association, 2012)

Recognizing the problem is often the first step, but where do managers and company leaders turn for practical advice on creating psychologically healthy workplaces. From the latest edition of The Psychologist Manager (TIP) are four good starting points:

#1 The Society for Human Resource Management Foundation has published a set of effective practice guidelines and strategies for promoting employee health and well-being (Chenoweth, 2011),

http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/ benefits/articles/pages/wellness-re- source-page.aspxs

#2 The Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces at Berkeley has integrate a broad spectrum of research findings across disciplines to generate a holistic picture of the healthy workplaces based on science. In addition to a repository of scientific articles spanning literature in public health, occupational health, nutrition, computer science, business, psychology, environmental design, engineering, medicine, industrial hygiene, architecture, human factors, and health psychology


#3 American Psychological Association has multiple resources aimed at addressing employee and workplace health and wellness. Including a Center of Excellence for Workplace Health in the 1990s aimed at helping promote the application of psychology to workplace issues.


#4 Finally, positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship activities provding insights and avenues for pursuing research and practice into employee health and well-being. The Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan is a great resource for information related to management practices through work relating to positive leadership, meaning and purpose, ethics and virtues, and relationships and culture in organizations,


July 2014    Performance Reviews; trials and tribulations Almost everyone involved with employee performance ratings is dissatisfied.  That includes employees who are fixated on the actual numbers as well as the HR developers who spend perhaps too much time developing the behavioural descriptors of what is being measured. The academics pursuing validation studies are also dissatisfied since there tends to be little variance about the mid-point of the scale in any validation study.   Dr Joel Moses, a renowed assessment center pioneer recently published an article in The Industrial Psychologist, (April 2014 Volume 51 Issue 4) that called attention to a neglected area – the behavioral anchors of the scale. Moses developed a rating scale with a midpoint of: “What would be expected of an experienced X” (where X could be a minister, executive director, or school director). This enabled the raters to have a specific reference point rather than using the arbitrary terms such as “average, meets expectations, or meets objectives. A five-point scale would be anchored as follows: 5: You have “wowed” us with your exceptional performance. 4: We are very pleased with what you have done. 3: This is what we expect of an experienced property manager. 2: Consider this as an early warning signal that this aspect of your performance needs to be improved. 1: Unless significantly improved soon,we may need to take some performance actions. This author’s suggestions might bring more clarity to the performance review process.

December 2013      Employee Turnover People often stay in jobs violating two classic predictors of longevity – job satisfaction and perceived organizational support.  These people don’t like their work nor do they feel that their organizational necessarily cares about their contribution or welfare, yet they stay.  This recent study of the intentional of retail pharmacists to leave their job might explain why. Read about the importance of so-called job embeddness and how it relates to a decision to remain put.  Links to people, a compatible working culture and the cost of leaving combine to produce a powerful new predictor of job turnover. Read more at: Job Embeddedness and Retail Pharmacists’ Intention to Leave Christopher R. Leupold The Psychologist-Manager Journal 2013, Vol. 16, No. 4, 197–216

November 2013 The Problem with Performance Ratings The Industrial Organizational Psychologist Vol 51 Issue 2 October 2013 http://www.siop.org/tip/default.aspx There are two interesting articles related to Performance Management. The first by Alan Colquitt, Reflections on the State of I-O Research and Practice: Lessons learned from Performance Management, makes the point that those ratings linked to bonuses have much more rater than ratee variance. To quote Colquitt:

“Performance ratings have far more to do with the person doing the rating than the person being rated. Worst case, it feels like a lottery; employees pull a ping-pong ball out of a machine that reveals their rating.”

The second article, an interview with Professor Daniel Simons of the inattention to gorilla fame points out a possible reason:

“If you’re a manager, and you’re evaluating someone’s performance, all you have are the little snippets in front of you from when you evaluated their performance. You don’t have the broader context,you don’t have the comparison to what happens when you weren’t observing them. What’s striking is how often we don’t notice or think about the evidence we’re missing.”