Category Archives: psychology

The 3 types of workplaces

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I’ve been writing this blog since 2007 and I have noticed a big difference in managers attitudes towards employee wellness initiatives.

Over the years I’ve noticed 3 distinct types of workplaces and I want to share them with you.

1. The first type is happy and full of ambition.  Workers show up early for work to socialize and have coffee before work starts.  They can’t wait to get up and go to work.  Workers feel like they are an important part of the business and their ideas are welcome. Low turnover, low injury rates and savings on the bottom line.

2. The neutral low energy workplace is full of rules and they are heavily enforced.  Everyone shuts up and does what they are told without question…even unsafe acts rise dramatically with this type of management system. Workers feel oppressed and get discouraged have no loyalty to the business vision and that can lead to loses on the bottom line.

3. The third type is fully dysfunctional.  Workers at this stage are usually late all the time, don’t show up or get fired for a serious offences that results in high turnover.  They are many times more likely to fake injuries or get hurt for real; sabotage and thefts rise as well.  Usually this type of workplace exists in a union environment. Many losses on the bottom line with the dysfunctional workplace.  Enough to close it down!

I am sure that those who read this can agree that most workplaces fit into one of these three  general categories.  I just hope yours is the happy one!

 

Stress In The Workplace

 

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.

Holy Cow!

Employee Recognition – Guiding Principles

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Guiding Principles

A Simple ‘Thank You’
It only takes a moment (less than 60 seconds) to recognize the efforts of a co-worker. You could call it “fly-by appreciation”. Example: “Thanks for getting that study out to the staff so quickly. Now they will have time to read it before the meeting…”(15 sec.)
Pay Attention
Noticing when people are doing the right thing increases the probability they will repeat it. Example: “I saw how smoothly you let that student know what they could do to avoid a delay. Thanks for doing that level of customer service…”
Inspire Effort
People who feel appreciated give more to the job than what is merely required. They are ready to give the “discretionary effort” necessary to a healthy organization.
Reward the right things
You get what you pay attention to. If you positively comment on how an effort helps maintain our core values, or facilitates customer service, or helps new staff orient, or cross-trains staff, or builds teamwork, etc. staff will know what is important around here.
Personalized Approach
One size does not fit all. Staff are individuals and respond differently to the same strategy. Ask staff how they want to be recognized.
Equal Opportunity
There should be opportunity for all staff to receive recognition–whether for improving performance, for extra effort, for creativity, or for reliably doing their job each day.
Keep it Positive
To have the greatest impact, the recognition message needs to be completely positive (coach later!), specific, sincere, and given soon after the effort.
Enjoy!
“Fun, joy and sharing go hand-in glove with world class quality.”- Tom Peters. Celebrate individual and unit accomplishments- planned or spontaneously!
Recognize Leadership
Give recognition to staff that support a “recognition culture” with their actions and words by publicly noting their contribution, including it in their performance appraisal, inviting them to recognition celebrations, etc.
Recognize Teamwork
When the relationship among co-workers is good, recognition enhances work performance. When the relationship is troubled, it usually doesn’t matter how you reward or recognize people.

Source: Adapted from University of Iowa

Service Recognition Topics

http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/roles/mgr/ee-recognition/guiding-principles.html


Harm prevention needs to look beyond the individual into the corporate and the systemic

Young Drivers Of Canada

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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


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

Psychosocial Hazard?

 

  When we think of hazards 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 psychosocial hazards, and the impact on the workplace. Dr. Martin Shain and Health Canada have put out a recent study called Best Advice on Risk Management in the Workplace. 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 aggressive behavior, 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 employer 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 Canada’s top 100 employers list where the effort/reward system is working; and it is the main reason why they are considered Top Employers!