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Guarding Minds @ Work
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
135 Hunter Street East
Hamilton ON Canada L8N 1M5
Phone: 1-800-668-4284, 905-570-8094
Fax: 905-572-4500

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The 13 Psychosocial Factors in GM@W

What are Psychosocial Factors?

Psychosocial factors are elements that impact employees’ psychological responses to work and work conditions, potentially causing psychological health problems. Psychosocial factors include the way work is carried out (deadlines, workload, work methods) and the context in which work occurs (including relationships and interactions with managers and supervisors, colleagues and coworkers, and clients or customers).

What Psychosocial Factors does GM@W address?

There are 13 Psychosocial Factors assessed by GM@W. The 13 Psychosocial Factors are consistent with domains identified by a large body of research as areas of fundamental psychosocial risk; the definitions and language used here are unique to GM@W. For each of the factors, lower scores indicate greater risk to employee psychological health and organizational psychological safety; higher scores indicate greater employee and organizational resilience and sustainability. The factors are interrelated and therefore influence one another; positive or negative changes in one factor are likely to change other factors in a similar manner. The 13 Psychosocial Factors are relevant to Canadian organizations and employees, whether those organizations are large or small, in the public or private sector.

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About PF1: Psychological Support

What is PF1: Psychological Support?

GM@W defines PF1: Psychological Support as present in a work environment where coworkers and supervisors are supportive of employees’ psychological and mental health concerns, and respond appropriately as needed. Equally important are the employees’ perceptions and awareness of organizational support. When employees perceive organizational support, it means they believe their organization values their contributions, is committed to ensuring their psychological well-being and provides meaningful supports if this well-being is compromised.

Why is Psychological Support important?

The more employees feel they have psychological support, the greater their job attachment, job commitment, job satisfaction, job involvement, work mood positivity, desire to remain with the organization, organizational citizenship behaviours (discretionary behaviours that are beneficial to the organization and are a matter of personal choice), and job performance. For some organizations, the most important aspect of psychological support may be that it is especially helpful in protecting against traumatic stressors at work. When adequate psychological support is present, employees experiencing psychological distress in the workplace will be more likely to seek, and receive, appropriate help. They will be better equipped to stay safe and productive at work while they recover, and, if work absence is required, will be more likely to have a quicker and more sustainable work return.

What happens when employees lack psychological support?

Employee perceptions of a lack of psychological support from their organization can lead to increases in absenteeism, withdrawal behaviours, strain, conflict and turnover. Strain can then lead to greater issues such as fatigue, headaches, burnout and anxiety. Lack of psychological support can also result in loss of productivity, increased costs and greater risk of accidents, incidents and injuries.

How can Psychological Support be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Psychological Support is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Psychological Support. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Psychological Support can be enhanced.

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Further information about Psychological Support:

About PF2: Organizational Culture

What is PF2: Organizational Culture?

GM@W defines PF2: Organizational Culture as the degree to which a work environment is characterized by trust, honesty, and fairness. In general, organizational culture has been described as “a pattern of basic assumptions invented, discovered, or developed by a given group.” These assumptions are a mix of values, beliefs, meanings and expectations that group members hold in common and that they use as behavioural and problem-solving cues. The critical task is to determine which of these assumptions enhance the psychological health and safety of the workplace and the workforce.

Why is Organizational Culture important?

Organizational trust is imperative for any positive and productive social processes within any workplace. Trust is a predictor of cooperative behaviour, organizational citizenship behaviours, organizational commitment, and employee loyalty, all of which in turn help retain and attract employees. When an organization has a health-focused culture, employee well-being, job satisfaction and organizational commitment are all enhanced. A work culture with social support also enhances employee well-being and can provide a positive environment for employees who may be experiencing psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety.

What happens when a workplace does not have good organizational culture?

Culture ‘sets the tone’ for an organization; if that culture is negative it can undermine the effectiveness of the best programs, policies and services intended to support the workforce. An unhealthy culture creates more stress in the workplace, which lowers employee well-being. If an organization has a culture of ‘profit at all costs’ and constant chaotic urgency, it can create an environment in which burnout is the norm.

How can Organizational Culture be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Organizational Culture is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Organizational Culture. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Organizational Culture can be enhanced.

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Further information about Organizational Culture:

  • Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation. (2007). When Something's Wrong: Strategies for the Workplace. In Education & Awareness. Retrieved from http://cprf.ca/education/workplace.html
  • Findler, L., Wind, L., & Mor Barak, M. E. (2007). The challenge of workforce management in a global society: Modeling the relationship between diversity, inclusion, organizational culture, and employee well-being, job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Administration in Social Work, 31(3), 63-94. doi: 10.1300/J147v31n03_05
  • Gilbert, M. & Bilsker, D. (2012). Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/Workforce/Workforce_Employers_Guide_ENG.pdf
  • Härtel, C. (2008). How to build a healthy emotional culture and avoid a toxic culture. In N. M. Ashkanasy & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Research companion to emotion in organizations (pp. 575-588). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Hodge, B.J., & Anthony, W. P. (1988). Organizational theory. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Lansisalmi, H., Peiro, J., & Kivimaki, M. (2000). Collective stress and coping in the context of organizational culture. European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology, 9(4), 527-559. doi: 10.1080/13594320050203120
  • Schein, E. (1990). Organizational culture. American Psychologist, 45(2), 109-119. Retrieved from http://www.machon-adler.co.il/readers/reader56.pdf
  • The Great-West Life Assurance Company. (2012). PF2: Organizational Culture. In Centre Resources by GM@W Factor and On the Agenda. Retrieved from http://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com
  • The Health Communication Unit. (2009). Organizational culture: From assessment to action. Retrieved from http://www.thcu.ca/Workplace/pdf/2009_03_10_Organizational_Culture.pdf
  • Zhang, A., Tsui, A., Song, L., Li, C., & Jia, L. (2008). How do I trust thee? The employee-organization relationship, supervisor support, and middle manager trust in the organization. Human Resource Management, 47(1), 111-132. doi: 10.1002/hrm.20200
About PF3: Clear Leadership & Expectations

What is PF3: Clear Leadership & Expectations?

GM@W defines PF3: Clear Leadership & Expectations as present in a work environment where there is effective leadership and support that helps employees know what they need to do, how their work contributes to the organization, and whether there are impending changes. There are many types of leadership, each of which impacts psychosocial health and safety in different ways. The most widely accepted categorizations of leadership are instrumental, transactional and transformational. Of these, transformational leadership is considered the most powerful. Instrumental leadership focuses primarily on producing outcomes, with little attention paid to the ‘big picture,’ the psychosocial dynamics within the organization, and, unfortunately, the individual employees. Transformational leaders are seen as change agents who motivate their followers to do more than what is expected. They are concerned with long-term objectives and transmit a sense of mission, vision and purpose. They have charisma, give individualized consideration to their employees, stimulate intellectual capabilities in others, and inspire employees.

Why is Clear Leadership & Expectations important?

Leadership is the foundation of a health pyramid (see below)1.

The health pyramid illustrates the importance of leadership.

Effective leadership increases employee morale, resiliency and trust, and decreases employee frustration and conflict. Good leadership leads to individuals being 40% more likely to be in the highest category of job well-being, a 27% reduction of sick leave, and a 46% reduction in early retirements with disability pensions. A leader who demonstrates a commitment to maintaining his or her own physical and psychological health can influence the health of employees (sickness, presenteeism, absenteeism), as well as the health of the organization as a whole (vigour, vitality, productivity).

1 The term "job well-being" used in the pyramid refers to health aspects that are related to work, such as burnout (Kuoppala et al., 2008).

What happens when clear leadership and expectations are lacking in the workplace?

Leaders who are more instrumental in their approach (rather than transformational) are more likely to find staff health complaints including general feelings of malaise, irritability and nervousness. Similarly, leaders who do not demonstrate visible concern for their own physical and psychological health set a negative example for their staff and can undermine the legitimacy of any organizational program, policy and/or service intended to support employees. Middle managers are at greater risk due to the fact that they must be leaders and be led simultaneously. This role conflict can lead to feelings of powerlessness and stress.

How can Clear Leadership & Expectations be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Clear Leadership & Expectations is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Clear Leadership & Expectations. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Clear Leadership & Expectations can be enhanced.

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Further information about Clear Leadership & Expectations:

  • Boumans, N. P. G., & Landeweerd, J. A. (1993). Leadership in the nursing unit: relationships with nurses’ well-being. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 18, 767-775. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1993.18050767.x
  • Gilbert, M. & Bilsker, D. (2012). Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/Workforce/Workforce_Employers_Guide_ENG.pdf
  • Health and Safety Executive. (2012). Work related stress–together we can tackle it. In Guidance. Retrieved from http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/index.htm
  • Howell, J., & Avolio, B. (1993). Transformational leadership, transactional leadership, locus of control, and support for innovation: Key predictors of consolidated-business-unit performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(6), 891-902. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.78.6.891
  • Kuoppala, J., Lamminpää, A., Liira, J., & Vainio, H. (2008). Leadership, job well-being, and health effects: A systematic review and a meta-analysis. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 50(8), 904-915. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31817e918d
  • McConville, T., & Holden, L. (1999). The filling in the sandwich: HRM and middle managers in the health sector. Personnel Review, 28(5/6), 406-424. doi: 10.1108/00483489910286738
  • Quick, J., Macik-Frey, M., & Cooper, C. (2007). Managerial dimensions of organizational health: The healthy leader at work. Journal of Management Studies, 44(2), 189-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2007.00684.x
  • Stordeur, S., Vandenberghe, C., & D’hoore, W. (2001). On examining the moderators of leader behaviors in nursing: An investigation of substitutes for, and neutralizers and enhancers of, leadership. In J. de Jonge, P. Vlerick, A. Bussing & W. B. Schaufeli (Eds.), Organizational psychology and health care at the start of a new millennium (pp. 85-104). Munich, Germany: Rainer Hampp Verlag.
  • The Great-West Life Assurance Company. (2012). PF3: Clear Leadership and Expectations. In Centre Resources by GM@W Factor and On the Agenda. Retrieved from http://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com
About PF4: Civility & Respect

What is PF4: Civility & Respect?

GM@W defines PF4: Civility & Respect as present in a work environment where employees are respectful and considerate in their interactions with one another, as well as with customers, clients and the public. Civility and respect are based on showing esteem, care and consideration for others, and acknowledging their dignity.

Why is Civility & Respect important?

A civil and respectful workplace is related to greater job satisfaction, greater perceptions of fairness, a more positive attitude, improved morale, better teamwork, greater interest in personal development, engagement in problem resolution, enhanced supervisor-staff relationships, and reduction in sick leave and turnover. Organizations characterized by civility and respect create a positive atmosphere marked by high spirits and work satisfaction. This allows people to enjoy the environment, whether they are staff, clients or customers.

What happens when civility and respect are missing from the workplace?

When a workplace lacks civility and respect, this can lead to emotional exhaustion amongst staff. In addition to health problems, an incivil and disrespectful workplace is associated with greater conflict and job withdrawal. A work environment that is incivil and disrespectful also exposes organizations to the threat of more grievances and legal risks.

Probably the most extreme example of disrespectful behaviour is bullying. Exposure to workplace bullying is associated with psychological complaints, depression, burnout, anxiety, aggression, psychosomatic complaints and musculoskeletal health complaints. Bullying not only affects those directly involved, but also affects bystanders, as they too experience higher levels of stress. A number of provinces currently have, or are considering, legislation to address such behaviours.

How can Civility & Respect be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Civility & Respect is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Civility & Respect. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Civility & Respect can be enhanced.

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Further information about Civility & Respect:

About PF5: Psychological Competencies & Requirements

What is PF5: Psychological Competencies & Requirements?

GM@W defines PF5: Psychological Competencies & Requirements as present in a work environment where there is a good fit between employees’ interpersonal and emotional competencies and the requirements of the position they hold. This means that employees not only possess the technical skills and knowledge for a particular position, but they also have the psychological skills and emotional intelligence to do the job. Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, self-motivation, empathy and social deftness. Of note is the fact that a subjective job fit has been found to be more important than an objective job fit, meaning it is more important for employees to feel they fit their job, rather than being assessed and matched to the job.

Why is Psychological Competencies & Requirements important?

A fit between employees’ psychological competencies and the requirements of the position they hold is associated with fewer somatic health complaints, lower levels of depression, greater self-esteem and a more positive self-concept. It is also associated with enhanced performance, job satisfaction and employee retention.

What happens when there is a misfit between employees’ psychological competencies and the requirements of the position they hold?

A misfit between employees’ psychological competencies and the requirements of the position they hold may result in job strain. This strain can be expressed as emotional distress and arousal, excessive cognitive rumination, defensiveness, energy depletion and lower mood levels. Organizationally, competencies and requirements misfit is linked to a reduction of applicants in the recruitment and training process, lack of enjoyment and engagement, poor productivity, conflict, and greater voluntary turnover.

How can Psychological Competencies & Requirements be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Psychological Competencies & Requirements is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Psychological Competencies & Requirements. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Psychological Competencies & Requirements can be enhanced.

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Further information about Psychological Competencies & Requirements:

  • Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario. (2012). Mental health works. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthworks.ca
  • Carless, S. (2005). Person-job fit versus person-organization fit as predictors of organizational attraction and job acceptance intentions: A longitudinal study. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 78(3), 411-429. doi: 10.1348/096317905X25995
  • Gilbert, M. & Bilsker, D. (2012). Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/Workforce/Workforce_Employers_Guide_ENG.pdf
  • Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.
  • Scroggins, W. (2008). The relationship between employee fit perceptions, job performance, and retention: Implications of perceived fit. Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 20(1), 57-71. doi: 10.1007/s10672-007-9060-0
  • Shaw, J., & Gupta, N. (2004). Job complexity, performance and well-being: When does supplies-values fit matter? Personnel Psychology, 57(4), 847-879. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2004.00008.x
  • The Great-West Life Assurance Company. (2012). PF5: Psychological Competencies and Requirements. In Centre Resources by GM@W Factor and On the Agenda. Retrieved from http://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com
About PF6: Growth & Development

What is PF6: Growth & Development?

GM@W defines PF6: Growth & Development as present in a work environment where employees receive encouragement and support in the development of their interpersonal, emotional and job skills. Such workplaces provide a range of internal and external opportunities for employees to build their repertoire of competencies, which will not only help with their current jobs, but will also prepare them for possible future positions.

Why is Growth & Development important?

Employee development increases goal commitment, organizational commitment and job satisfaction. Employees feel that organizations care when they support growth and development, and skill acquisition and career development directly enhance employee well-being. It is important to ensure that growth opportunities extend beyond learning specific technical skills necessary for job performance, also including opportunities to learn personal and interpersonal skills that are critical to successfully caring for oneself and relating to others.

What happens when employees don’t have opportunities for growth and development?

Employees who are not challenged by their work will grow bored, their well-being will suffer, and their performance will drop. When staff do not have opportunities to learn and improve their interpersonal and psychological skills, the result can be conflict, disengagement and distress.

How can Growth & Development be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Growth & Development is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Growth & Development. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Growth & Development can be enhanced.
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About PF7: Recognition & Reward

What is PF7: Recognition & Reward?

GM@W defines PF7: Recognition & Reward as present in a work environment where there is appropriate acknowledgement and appreciation of employees’ efforts in a fair and timely manner. This includes appropriate and regular financial compensation, as well as employee or team celebrations, recognition of years served, and/or milestones reached.

Why is Recognition & Reward important?

Recognizing and rewarding employees motivates them, fuels their desire to excel, builds their self-esteem, encourages employees to exceed expectations, and enhances team success. This, in turn, provides staff with more energy and enthusiasm and a greater sense of pride and participation in their work. In addition, employees who receive recognition are more likely to treat colleagues and customers with courtesy, respect and understanding.

What happens when employees don’t receive appropriate recognition and reward?

When employees believe that their efforts are not appreciated it can undermine their confidence in their work and trust in the organization. At the least, employees are likely to feel demoralized; alternatively, they may quit. An imbalance between effort and reward is a significant contributor to burnout and emotional distress leading to a range of psychological and physical disorders.

How can Recognition & Reward be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Recognition & Reward is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Recognition & Reward. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Recognition & Reward can be enhanced.

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Further information about Recognition & Reward:

  • Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario. (2012). Mental health works. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthworks.ca
  • de Jonge, J, & Bosma, H. (2000). Job strain, effort-reward imbalance and employee well-being: A large-scale cross-sectional study. Social Science & Medicine, 50(9), 1317-1327. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.196.1790&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  • Gilbert, M. & Bilsker, D. (2012). Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/Workforce/Workforce_Employers_Guide_ENG.pdf
  • Harrell, R. (2001). Employee recognition brings excellence to the forefront. Health Care Registration: The Newsletter for Health Care Registration Professionals, 11(1), 10-11.
  • Harrell, R. & Bruno, A. (2001). Genuine recognition is never trite. Health Care Registration: The Newsletter for Health Care Registration Professionals, 11(2), 7-9.
  • Nelson, B. (2002). The rewards of recognition. Leader to Leader,23, 16-19.
  • Nelson, B. (2002). Tips to make employee recognition a habit. Health Care Registration: The Newsletter for Health Care Registration Professionals, 11(12), 11-13.
  • The Great-West Life Assurance Company. (2012). PF7: Recognition and Reward. In Centre Resources by GM@W Factor and On the Agenda. Retrieved from http://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com
About PF8: Involvement & Influence

What is PF8: Involvement & Influence?

GM@W defines PF8: Involvement & Influence as present in a work environment where employees are included in discussions about how their work is done and how important decisions are made. Opportunities for involvement can relate to an employee’s specific job, the activities of a team or department, or issues involving the organization as a whole.

Why is Involvement & Influence important?

When employees feel they have meaningful input into their work they are more likely to be engaged, to have higher morale, and to take pride in their organization. This, in turn, increases their willingness to make extra effort when required. Job involvement is, thus, associated with increased psychological well-being, enhanced innovation, and organizational commitment.

What happens when employees lack involvement or influence?

If employees do not believe they have a voice in the affairs of the organization, they are likely to feel a sense of indifference or helplessness. Job alienation, or non-involvement, is associated with cynicism and distress, greater turnover, and burnout.

How can Involvement & Influence be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Involvement & Influence is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Involvement & Influence. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Involvement & Influence can be enhanced.

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Further information about Involvement & Influence:

  • Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario. (2012). Mental health works. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthworks.ca
  • Elloy, D., Everett, J., & Flynn, W. (1991). An examination of the correlates of job involvement. Group & Organization Studies, 16(2), 160-177. doi: 10.1177/105960119101600204
  • Gilbert, M. & Bilsker, D. (2012). Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/Workforce/Workforce_Employers_Guide_ENG.pdf
  • Misra, S., Kanungo, R., von Rosenstiel, L., & Stuhler, E. (1985). The motivational formulation of job and work involvement: A cross-national study. Human Relations, 38(6), 501-518. doi: 10.1177/001872678503800601
  • The Great-West Life Assurance Company. (2012). PF8: Involvement and Influence. In Centre Resources by GM@W Factor and On the Agenda. Retrieved from http://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com
About PF9: Workload Management

What is PF9: Workload Management?

GM@W defines PF9: Workload Management as present in a work environment where tasks and responsibilities can be accomplished successfully within the time available. This is the psychosocial factor that many working Canadians describe as being the biggest workplace stressor (i.e., having too much to do and not enough time to do it). Research has demonstrated that it is not just the amount of work that makes a difference, but also the extent to which employees have the resources (time, equipment, support) to do the work well.

Why is Workload Management important?

Most employees are not only willing to work hard, but experience a ‘good day’s work’ as fulfilling and rewarding. Workload management is important because there is a unique relationship between job demands, intellectual demands and job satisfaction. Job demands reduce job satisfaction, whereas intellectual demands, or decision-making latitude, increase job satisfaction. Even when there are high demands, if employees also have high decision-making ability, they will be able to thrive. Having high decision-making latitude also allows for positive coping behaviours to be learned and experienced.

What happens when employees can’t manage their workload?

If any system is subject to excess load without respite it will break. This is as true for people as it is for equipment. Increased demands, without opportunities for control, result in physical, psychological and emotional fatigue, and increase stress and strain. This has a negative influence on performance. Emotionally fatigued individuals also have a diminished sense of personal accomplishment and an increased sense of inadequacy. One of the main reasons employees feel negatively about their jobs and their employers is excessive workload.

How can Workload Management be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Workload Management is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Workload Management. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Workload Management can be enhanced.

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About PF10: Engagement

What is PF10: Engagement?

GM@W defines PF10: Engagement as present in a work environment where employees feel connected to their work and are motivated to do their job well. Employee engagement can be physical, emotional and/or cognitive.

Physical engagement is based on the amount of exertion an employee puts into his or her job. Physically engaged employees view work as a source of energy. Emotionally engaged employees have a positive job outlook and are passionate about their work. Cognitively engaged employees devote more attention to their work and are absorbed in their job. Whatever the source, engaged employees feel connected to their work because they can relate to, and are committed to, the overall success and mission of their company.

Engagement is similar to, but should not be mistaken for: job satisfaction, job involvement, organizational commitment, psychological empowerment, and intrinsic motivation.

Why is Engagement important?

Not only is employee engagement important for individual satisfaction and psychological health, but it also leads to positive outcomes for the organization. The three-year Total Return to Shareholders (TRS) for companies with engaged workforces can be double that of the average company. In addition to profitability, employee engagement is related to greater customer satisfaction, enhanced task performance, greater morale, greater motivation, and increased organizational citizenship behaviours (discretionary behaviours that are beneficial to the organization and are a matter of personal choice).

What happens when employees aren’t engaged?

A recent poll in the U.S. found that the economic impact of disengaged workers is an estimated $300 billion annually in productivity losses. Furthermore, disengaged workers can lead to greater economic impact from psychological and medical consequences. In addition to financial hardships, a workforce that is not engaged is more likely to demonstrate greater employee turnover, workplace deviance (in the form of withholding effort), counterproductive behaviour, and withdrawal behaviours.

How can Engagement be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Engagement is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Engagement. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Engagement can be enhanced.

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About PF11: Balance

What is PF11: Balance?

GM@W defines PF11: Balance as present in a work environment where there is recognition of the need for balance between the demands of work, family and personal life. This psychosocial factor reflects the reality that everyone has multiple roles: as professors, parents, partners, etc. This complexity is enriching and allows fulfillment of individual strengths and responsibilities, but conflicting responsibilities can lead to role conflict or overload.

Why is Balance important?

A work environment where employers recognize the need for work-life balance makes employees feel valued and happier both at work and at home. When employers recognize that work-life balance is important, they realize the need for greater workplace flexibility. This flexibility helps minimize conflict by allowing employees to accomplish the tasks necessary in their daily lives. Balance reduces stress and the possibility that home issues will spill over into work, or vice versa. Balance allows staff to maintain their concentration, confidence, responsibility, and sense of control at work. Organizationally, this translates into enhanced employee commitment, job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behaviours (discretionary behaviours that are beneficial to the organization and are a matter of personal choice) and job performance. In turn, balance is associated with enhanced well-being and reduced stress. These effects have been demonstrated over time, showing a direct causal relationship to physical and psychological health.

What happens when balance is compromised?

Job stress is on the rise, surging from 20 percent in 1990 to 33 percent in 2000. Employees with higher job stress are more likely to be dissatisfied with work and be absent either physically or mentally. One source of stress is conflict between work and family roles. When work-family conflict occurs, health and well-being are undermined. This imbalance can lead to constant tiredness, bad temper, and inability to progress. These can, in turn, lead to additional stress-related illness, as well as higher cholesterol, depressive symptoms, and overall decreased health. The impact on the organization is increased costs due to benefit payouts, absenteeism, disability, and turnover.

How can Balance be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Balance is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Balance. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Balance can be enhanced.

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About PF12: Psychological Protection

What is PF12: Psychological Protection?

GM@W defines PF12: Psychological Protection as present in a work environment where employees’ psychological safety is ensured. Workplace psychological safety is demonstrated when workers feel able to put themselves on the line, ask questions, seek feedback, report mistakes and problems, or propose a new idea without fearing negative consequences to themselves, their job or their career. A psychologically healthy and safe workplace is one that promotes employees’ psychological well-being and actively works to prevent harm to employee psychological health due to negligent, reckless or intentional acts.

Why is Psychological Protection important?

When employees are psychologically protected they demonstrate greater job satisfaction, enhanced team learning behaviour and improved performance. Employees are more likely to speak up and become involved. They show increased morale and engagement and are less likely to experience stress-related illness. Psychologically protected workplaces also experience fewer grievances, conflicts and liability risks.

What happens when employees’ psychological safety is not protected?

When employees are not psychologically safe they experience demoralization, a sense of threat, disengagement and strain. They perceive workplace conditions as ambiguous and unpredictable. The organization is at a much greater threat from costly, and potentially crippling, legal and regulatory risk. This can, in turn, undermine shareholder, consumer, and public confidence in the organization.

How can Psychological Protection be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Psychological Protection is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Psychological Protection. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Psychological Protection can be enhanced.

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About PF 13: Protection of Physical Safety

What is PF13: Protection of Physical Safety?

GM@W defines PF13: Protection of Physical Safety as present in a work environment where management takes appropriate action to protect the physical safety of employees. Appropriate actions may include: policies to protect employees’ physical safety; training in safety-related protocols; rapid and appropriate response to physical accidents or situations identified as risky; and clearly demonstrated concern for employees’ physical safety.

Why is Protection of Physical Safety important?

Employees who perceive the workplace as protective of physical safety will feel more secure and engaged at work. Research has shown that when employees have higher levels of confidence in safety protection at work, they experience lower rates of psychological distress and mental health problems. The sense of physical safety protection is enhanced by: adequate training with regard to physical safety, trust that the employer minimizes physical hazards, confidence that the employer responds quickly and effectively to safety incidents, and the opportunity to have meaningful input into workplace policies and practices. The protection of physical safety is also an important bridge between traditional Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) and the new area of Psychological Health and Safety. This factor is linked to the concept of “safety climate”: “employees’ perceptions of the importance of safety and how it is operationalized within the working environment”1 . Protection of Physical Safety is especially important in workplaces with high levels of safety-sensitivity.

Safety climate is consistent with, and part of, the larger culture or climate of the organization. Correspondingly, a psychologically safe climate is one where there is a shared and enduring belief in, and commitment to, the importance of promoting and protecting the physical and psychological safety of all involved by taking actions to identify and address risks. It involves the complex interaction between events in the workplace or organizational environment; management commitment and leadership; employee perceptions, thoughts and knowledge; and individual and organizational behaviours or practices. Safety culture is therefore dynamic and aspirational rather than fixed. As one author noted, “Like a state of grace, a safety culture is something that is striven for but rarely attained”2.

1 Cooper, M.D., & Phillips, R.A. (2004). Exploratory analysis of the safety climate and safety behavior analysis. Journal of Safety Research, 35, 497-512.

2 Reason, J. (1997). Managing the risks of organizational accidents. Brookfield, VT: Ashgate.

What happens when employees’ physical safety is not protected?

Workplaces that fail to protect physical safety are likely to be more dangerous. Also, workers who do not see the workplace as protecting physical safety will feel less secure and less engaged, and this will increase their vulnerability to psychological distress and potential mental health problems.

How can Protection of Physical Safety be improved?

Start by conducting the GM@W Organizational Review and/or the GM@W Survey and reviewing the results. If Protection of Physical Safety is identified as an area of concern or relative strength, refer to the GM@W Action Resources for a practical strategy and evidence-based and effective suggested actions that can improve Protection of Physical Safety. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed. Consider reviewing the resources below. Finally, refer back to the GM@W website on occasion for new ideas about how Protection of Physical Safety can be enhanced.
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