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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, August 15, 2022
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How to Create Stress-Free Working Environments

“Sixty-nine percent of employees report that work is a significant source of stress and 41% say they typically feel tense or stressed out during the workday” — American Psychological Association, 2009
The Bumper Sticker reads “The floggings will continue until morale improves.” Funny at first glance, primarily because it is relatable to many. But those organizations that are really in the know, know that creating a happy and psychologically healthy workplace benefits not only their employees, but their own bottom lines. Besides not having employees moping around with sad and beaten looks upon their faces, creating psychologically healthy workplaces has been shown to result in improvements in customer service and satisfaction, fewer accidents and injuries, and reduced absenteeism and lower healthcare costs, resulting in improvements in productivity, increased on the job performance and improved quality of product. Which employer would not claim to want such benefits?
Still, we see that while the best companies to work for — and in some cases, the most lucrative — are able to hold onto their employees and maximize their bottom lines – not by flogging (figuratively of course), berating and punishing employees — but by creating environments that meet employee needs. In almost complete contrast to employer/employee relationship models that emphasize punitive means to “force” employees do their jobs, these successful businesses offer benefits such as paying 100% of health care costs, on-site child care options, and paid sabbaticals, and they encourage work/life balance amongst their employees. And despite these benefits, in fact because of these benefits and the focus on supporting psychological health, the businesses themselves are more profitable and the employees are happier and more productive. Understandably, most organizations are not able to offer benefits such as child care, paid sabbaticals and 100% of health care costs, yet there are other environmental and systemic practices that are within the ability of many to most that should have beneficial effects on environment, productivity and employee health.
In relationships where there are power hierarchies, the concept of domination or needing to force subservient s into doing something has been subconsciously and consciously passed on. Although this paradigm, which encourages rigidity in the employer/employee relationship and restriction of all benefits other than those contractually agreed upon, persists, it is clearly not the most beneficial for employers or employees; and by virtue of the fact that most people fall into one category or the other, it is not the most beneficial for society at large.
In employer/employee relationships, the focus on simple exchange of work for pay can become unhealthy if employees are treated solely as commodities and their human/psychological needs are neglected.
Job stress can be created by an imbalance between effort and reward, disparity between high workload and low control over long term reward, organizational injustice (unfair rewards, unfair decision making and unfair relational practices), and can include hostile work environments, and threats of layoffs, along with the usual stressors of deadlines and typical expectations. Job stress can lead to negative attitudes toward self and others, emotional exhaustion and depression, and stress has been linked to poorer immune functioning, muscle tension and other medical problems, such as high blood pressure, weight problems and cardiovascular disease, which can lead to increased absenteeism and lower productivity. In fact, in 2001 Rosch reported job stress results in a loss of about $300 billion dollars a year in costs related to absenteeism, lower productivity, legal and insurance costs and turnover. While most employers are unable to offer the benefits that Fortune 500 companies offer their employees, the psychological health of the work environment can be enhanced by other more manageable means.
As an affiliate of the American Psychological Association, the Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists is dedicated to supporting psychologically healthy workplaces in the Virgin Islands. Organizations are recommended to create environments that include: employee empowerment through encouraging involvement in decision making, that support work/life balance, that encourage employee growth and development, that address health and safety issues, that emphasize employee recognition and that support healthy communication in the workplace.
The Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists would like to encourage employers to visit the APA website at: http://www.apaexcellence.org/ for more information on creating psychologically healthy workplaces, to view webcasts, listen to podcasts and to read research articles on the benefits of psychologically healthy workplaces. The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (sponsored by APA), includes community education regarding the benefits of creating psychologically healthy workplaces and culminates in awards each year for companies who have made the effort to create such environments for their employees. The Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists would be delighted to have local organizations represented at the national conference honoring those companies who are dedicated to their employees’ health and well-being.
If you are interested in participating in the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program through the Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists, please contact us at vipsychologists@gmail.com. We would be happy to schedule a complimentary mini-training with your management staff (as demand and availability allows) and encourage you to apply to be considered for a Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award.
As employees (and employers affected by job stress) making use of stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, exercise, good rest and nutrition, good time management, assertiveness training and therapy or counseling if needed, may help to reduce the effects of stress on physical and psychological health. Working together as individuals and systems is the best way to create a psychologically healthy and happy community.
Rosch, P. J. (Ed.). (2001, March). The quandary of job stress compensation. Health and Stress, 3, 1-4.
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/best_benefits/
http://www.apa.org/practice/programs/workplace/phwp-fact-sheet.pdf
http://unhealthywork.org/workplace-stressors/
http://www.apaexcellence.org/resources/creatingahealthyworkplace/

Editor’s note: Dara Hamilton, Ph.D., is the president of the Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists.

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“Sixty-nine percent of employees report that work is a significant source of stress and 41% say they typically feel tense or stressed out during the workday” -- American Psychological Association, 2009
The Bumper Sticker reads “The floggings will continue until morale improves.” Funny at first glance, primarily because it is relatable to many. But those organizations that are really in the know, know that creating a happy and psychologically healthy workplace benefits not only their employees, but their own bottom lines. Besides not having employees moping around with sad and beaten looks upon their faces, creating psychologically healthy workplaces has been shown to result in improvements in customer service and satisfaction, fewer accidents and injuries, and reduced absenteeism and lower healthcare costs, resulting in improvements in productivity, increased on the job performance and improved quality of product. Which employer would not claim to want such benefits?
Still, we see that while the best companies to work for -- and in some cases, the most lucrative -- are able to hold onto their employees and maximize their bottom lines – not by flogging (figuratively of course), berating and punishing employees -- but by creating environments that meet employee needs. In almost complete contrast to employer/employee relationship models that emphasize punitive means to “force” employees do their jobs, these successful businesses offer benefits such as paying 100% of health care costs, on-site child care options, and paid sabbaticals, and they encourage work/life balance amongst their employees. And despite these benefits, in fact because of these benefits and the focus on supporting psychological health, the businesses themselves are more profitable and the employees are happier and more productive. Understandably, most organizations are not able to offer benefits such as child care, paid sabbaticals and 100% of health care costs, yet there are other environmental and systemic practices that are within the ability of many to most that should have beneficial effects on environment, productivity and employee health.
In relationships where there are power hierarchies, the concept of domination or needing to force subservient s into doing something has been subconsciously and consciously passed on. Although this paradigm, which encourages rigidity in the employer/employee relationship and restriction of all benefits other than those contractually agreed upon, persists, it is clearly not the most beneficial for employers or employees; and by virtue of the fact that most people fall into one category or the other, it is not the most beneficial for society at large.
In employer/employee relationships, the focus on simple exchange of work for pay can become unhealthy if employees are treated solely as commodities and their human/psychological needs are neglected.
Job stress can be created by an imbalance between effort and reward, disparity between high workload and low control over long term reward, organizational injustice (unfair rewards, unfair decision making and unfair relational practices), and can include hostile work environments, and threats of layoffs, along with the usual stressors of deadlines and typical expectations. Job stress can lead to negative attitudes toward self and others, emotional exhaustion and depression, and stress has been linked to poorer immune functioning, muscle tension and other medical problems, such as high blood pressure, weight problems and cardiovascular disease, which can lead to increased absenteeism and lower productivity. In fact, in 2001 Rosch reported job stress results in a loss of about $300 billion dollars a year in costs related to absenteeism, lower productivity, legal and insurance costs and turnover. While most employers are unable to offer the benefits that Fortune 500 companies offer their employees, the psychological health of the work environment can be enhanced by other more manageable means.
As an affiliate of the American Psychological Association, the Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists is dedicated to supporting psychologically healthy workplaces in the Virgin Islands. Organizations are recommended to create environments that include: employee empowerment through encouraging involvement in decision making, that support work/life balance, that encourage employee growth and development, that address health and safety issues, that emphasize employee recognition and that support healthy communication in the workplace.
The Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists would like to encourage employers to visit the APA website at: http://www.apaexcellence.org/ for more information on creating psychologically healthy workplaces, to view webcasts, listen to podcasts and to read research articles on the benefits of psychologically healthy workplaces. The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (sponsored by APA), includes community education regarding the benefits of creating psychologically healthy workplaces and culminates in awards each year for companies who have made the effort to create such environments for their employees. The Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists would be delighted to have local organizations represented at the national conference honoring those companies who are dedicated to their employees’ health and well-being.
If you are interested in participating in the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program through the Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists, please contact us at vipsychologists@gmail.com. We would be happy to schedule a complimentary mini-training with your management staff (as demand and availability allows) and encourage you to apply to be considered for a Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award.
As employees (and employers affected by job stress) making use of stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, exercise, good rest and nutrition, good time management, assertiveness training and therapy or counseling if needed, may help to reduce the effects of stress on physical and psychological health. Working together as individuals and systems is the best way to create a psychologically healthy and happy community.
Rosch, P. J. (Ed.). (2001, March). The quandary of job stress compensation. Health and Stress, 3, 1-4.
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/best_benefits/
http://www.apa.org/practice/programs/workplace/phwp-fact-sheet.pdf
http://unhealthywork.org/workplace-stressors/
http://www.apaexcellence.org/resources/creatingahealthyworkplace/

Editor’s note: Dara Hamilton, Ph.D., is the president of the Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists.