A very good read from IAPA
Studies have shown that for every dollar spent on controlling psychosocial hazards, you can save between three to six dollars on your bottom line!
We can learn many things about stress management and how stress management can benefit workplaces. For example, dairy farmers are drastically changing the way in which cows are raised. Dairy farmers have found that creating a relaxing, non-stressful environment for the cows turns into better profits. Cows no longer are cooped up in small stalls, or separated from their young; instead they roam freely in pastures. Come milking time, the cows go in a modern, high-tech barn that is designed for maximum comfort. The floors are made of stainless steel, that’s so that the robotic squeegee can scrape all waste matter away to prevent disease. The cows also have access to large “car-wash type” brushes that automatically spin when a cow is present, this is to help the cow get at those irritating itches. Milking the cow is accomplished by a laser guided machine that finds each nipple, all without any person touching the cow. Once hooked up, the machine monitors the milk for any temperature changes or disease. To further reduce stress the cow is always with their young, even when it’s time for milking.
Dairy farmers say that a happy cow gives more milk, and that the milk is better quality. They are witnessing positive results from their investment in stress management.
How can we apply stress management to everyday workers? We need to first realize that stressed workers are less productive, more prone to accidents, have more sick days, and cost the company many thousands of dollars on the bottom line.
The solution to these problems can come through a good stress management program where employees feel good about coming to work and doing the best job they can. Creating this friendly, non-confrontational atmosphere can be attained through: commitment, desire, and proper leadership. The monetary cost of stress management can be minimal when you understand your psychosocial hazards that exist in your workplace, and you control them.
Over the past twenty years of health and safety management, there has been much study on the term Psychosocial hazard, and, if it really exists in our workplaces. The Ministry of Labor, W.S.I.B., Health and Safety Professionals, C.S.A and Union Leaders all recognize that psychosocial hazards are real, and that they can be controlled just as much as physical hazards.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are excellent resources for minimising harm from workplace issues, particularly psychosocial hazards. However this usually occurs after an event or an incident. This reality was emphasised recently by a media release from AccessEAP that revealed “the top five causes of workplace stress” (not available online but an article based closely on the release is available HERE) . The top 5 seems reasonable but the advice in the media release doesn’t seem to address the causes of the top 2 – Job Insecurity and Work Overload. These are difficult hazards to address particularly as the causes may originate outside the workplace but the media release indicates that to be effective safety managers it is necessary to look beyond the company’s fenceline and accept that the prevention of harm is now just as much social and political as it is occupational.
The top 5 triggers of workplace…
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One of the best things that managers can do is get out of the office and get some face time going with the workers on the front line. Get out and interact with them. Not in an event way like “ride the big bike” for charity event once a year. I mean get out there as individuals and create friendships with the employees. Too many times there is a distinct separation between management and hourly employees, which causes a distancing effect from your workforce that can undermine your corporate goals as a whole.
When a regular hourly employee knows your name and you give genuine recognition, then you have an employee who feels like you care about them and they will stop at nothing to do the best job they can to aid and assist in the success of the corporate goals.
Keeping your employees happy is a key component to getting the most out of your bottom line. With a business being ran by a bunch of unhappy campers who don’t want to be there, you can bet that your production rates will decrease as well. Not every job is glamorous. As a matter of fact, most jobs are the complete opposite. However, that does not warrant the assumption that every day has to be a living hell. Understanding the connection between employee wellness, morale, and the bottom line will help any frustrated supervisor transform their workforce.
Tracking Employee Wellness
Your employees are simply human beings who are trying to make a living. They do not need or wish to be treated as slaves – machines that can take a beating without uttering a complaint. Even machines break down; and your employees will as well if you don’t take some time…
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I have hired or been a part of hiring several employees. Some have turned out to be great employees while others were not. Over the years, I hope that I have become better at identifying those employees who will be great through continued education and learning from my successes and failures.
I have learned that great employees are capable, hard-working team players you can trust. Before I place an offer on the table to a prospective employee, I try to have four questions on trust answered. Here are four questions to ask yourself before hiring an employee:
1. Can I trust them to do the job well?
Some employees are able to jump into a new position and immediately excel. Others need some ramp up time to learn the nuances of the role. I am fine with either. Like Jim Collins, I believe that it is simply important to get…
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So it’s my birthday today and I got thinking about my driver training I received when I turned 16.
- Look ahead
- Look where you want to go
- Shoulder check and mirror check
- Drive, according to the weather conditions
- Anticipate problems and have room to react
Still no accidents and I can attribute this to my excellent driver training.
We can apply this same train of thought to successful businesses and how to avoid pitfalls or failure. Look ahead, anticipate problems and deal with them before they become problems.
Evaluate your business, look ahead, where do you want to go?
Morale, also known as esprit de corps when discussing the morale of a group, is an intangible term used to describe the capacity of people to maintain belief in an institution or a goal.
Right from the start of every military career, esprit de corps is taught to young recruits as an essential part of being in the military. It is the “Glue” that keeps a unit together, ready for whatever challenge may arise.
Being posted to a warship I know how true this really is, for example, when a ship has a high morale thing are good; the food is great, everybody is rested and feeling energized.. smiles.. jokes and high fives all around. Nothing can stop us!
On the flip side, when the morale is low it can be like a jail with no escape. People are upset, frustrated and even emotionally damaged. You just don’t want to be there anymore, but you don’t really have a choice because you can’t just get off a ship in the middle of the ocean.
Interestingly enough, the Captain of the ship and how he treats the crew, is the sole reason for good or bad morale.
“One With The Strength Of Many“
When we think of at work, we generally think of physical hazards like: pinch points, nip points, trip hazards and guarding issues.
Psychosocial hazards are just as real as physical hazards at work, and in some cases, if not recognized and controlled they can have a very negative impact on your bottom line.
Many studies have been done on hazards, and the impact on the workplace. Dr. Martin Shain and have put out a recent study called Best Advice on in the . It simply states that workers with a high demand for production and little or no control, and, or, high effort/low reward are at risk of being frustrated, angry, and stressed, which can contribute to , sabotage, poor physical and mental health and a general lack of safety. These negative feelings can be multiplied two to three times if the employee perceives the as being unfair.
We can come up with many situations that exemplify this research, such as the example of a good marriage. When you ask two people who have been married for a long time “what helped them stay together”; they always say the same thing… “it is a relationship of give and take” which means the effort/reward system is good. On the other hand, ask a divorced couple to highlight the reasons why they got divorced and the answer is mostly…”I gave so much and got nothing in return”, Which means the effort/reward system has failed and so has their relationship.
Oddly enough, the marriage scenario is most like our workplaces. The relationship between employer/employee both have basic needs that have to be met to feel good about the working relationship.
Recognizing that psychosocial hazards exist is the first step in a process set up to control them, and controlling them can put you in list where the effort/reward system is working; and it is the main reason why they are considered Top Employers!
We here in Canada have some great laws that protect the worker’s safety, however, they’re widely unknown and unused.
The most unused law is the right to refuse unsafe work. It’s probably the most powerful and important “right” workers have, yet it goes unused. Just think of all the deaths and accidents that could have been prevented if they had used that right.
Every person I hire starts their fist day with me. We go through training videos, have a safety tour of the plant at which time I show them all the does and don’t s and what to watch for. I also explain in detail the right to refuse unsafe work and I encourage them to use it. By doing this I give them the knowledge and tools to stay safe and go home at the end of each shift.
We’ve all worked in places where we had stress from high demands, low reward, unreasonable expectations, gossip and even political games that can get pretty nasty!
Some of us have had the privilege of working in an almost utopia of positive reinforcement by senior staff combined with a genuine caring for your over all well-being. Everyone is made to feel welcome and part of a team. It’s relaxed, stress free and you may even get excited about going to work to do the best job you can!
I am a fan of the T.V. series Undercover Boss, mostly because it’s shed a light on the subject of psychosocial aspects in the workplace. I like how the “boss” connects with the regular workers and listens to their concerns. The “boss” always addresses the concerns and even finds a way to reward peoples loyalty and dedication with great gifts.
So is it possible to achieve a happy, stress free workplace? YES, only if the boss is behind it 100%. Without that clear support from the top it wont have legs and eventually it will fade away.
If you build it, they will come!