Organizations today are faced with skyrocketing healthcare costs, fierce global competition, and economic uncertainty. Cutting-edge organizations in an increasingly flat world are looking for a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Truly innovative organizational leaders now recognize that the key to success lies in their own workforce and that employee health and well-being and organizational performance are inextricably linked. Visionary leaders are creating cultures that engage the hearts, minds, emotions, and spirit of their people to create a psychologically healthy workplace.
The California State Psychological Association Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award program is designed to recognize organizations that make a commitment to programs and policies that foster employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance and productivity.
Applicants are evaluated on their efforts in the following five areas:
- Employee involvement
- Work-Life Balance
- Employee Growth and Development
- Health and Safety
- Employee Recognition
What is a psychologically healthy workplace? Psychologically healthy workplace practices include:
- Employee participation in decision-making
- Leadership development
- Opportunities for career advancement
- Channels for open, two-way communication
- Mechanisms to evaluate employee job satisfaction
- Programs to prevent and manage workplace stress
- Recognition of individual and team performance
I was selected as the Bay Area Chairperson for the award to review applicant materials and conduct site reviews. Recently our team of three psychologists had the pleasure to meet with management teams from Wells Fargo and Seton Medical Center as finalists for the CPA Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award. We were delighted to see that both organizations invest tremendous amounts, administratively and financially, to establish work cultures that contribute to the well-being of their employees.
Nominating only one organization for recipient of this award proved an impossible task. We believed strongly that both agencies have provided and deserve recognition as psychologically healthy workplaces. Because the organizations were vastly different (one not-for-profit hospital with 1500 employees; the other a for-profit financial institution with 150,000 employees), it was difficult to confirm one or the other as “more” healthy.
We recommended sharing this distinctive award between these two fine organizations. We described why we believed that both organizations deserved this distinction.
As a Daughter’s of Charity hospital, Seton Medical Center lives the mission of service to the poor, respect, compassion, and integrity. This historic mission of caring for others infuses all of their work with patients and creates a culture of caring that has built a community of trust and psychological well-being. This organization has small budgets (as a public hospital) and big programs for their employees. The team described a number of healthy workplace initiatives that are appreciated by employees, including significant family healthcare benefits, culturally appropriate interventions, and an open flow of communication between administration and employees that improves the workplace all-around. They described a culture where employees “feel cared about” and “needed.” Their programs for transitioning back to work after absence, for employee recognition, and conflict management are exemplary. They have the lowest levels of workman’s compensation, relative to the other hospitals in their system. The position “Vice President of Mission Integration” shows that this agency lives its mission of caring and service. The culture established at Seton Medical Center suggests their employees enjoy their jobs, feel secure in spite of the difficulties within a hospital setting, and are rewarded with positive feelings associated with giving back to others. In spite of limited resources, Seton presented as an agency that really cares about their employees and takes the well-being of their employees to heart.
A financial banking institution with over 84 companies, Wells Fargo infuses the culture of “People as Competitive Advantage” throughout their firm. Administration described the importance of supporting their employees professionally, personally, and financially. To meet those goals, they provide enormous benefits, including 24-hour access to Employee Assistance Counseling and limitless mental health benefits. The firm believes investment in the well-being of employees is critical to the health of their institution; it appears the firm invests a tremendous amount of resources into supporting employees. Their belief is that if they “help the team members succeed, they help the company succeed.” Administrators described employee satisfaction surveys that indicated employees feel that they “are making a difference” for the firm. The company provides an impressive amount of resources via the web including educational resources, mentoring information, and direct access to training courses. They provide several opportunities for family support, including extensive leave and relocation programs that are individualized to meet employee needs. In the recent past, Wells Fargo has initiated specific programs related to depression and violence prevention that they feel has been successful in helping to protect and support team members. The administration talked about their goal of empowering people through encouraging them to “run it like you own it.” They take a collaborative team approach in their interactions with employees. Their proactive and company-wide programming for employees is exemplary. Impressively, the Wells Fargo team described that while they do not know the return on investment of these enormous programs, they consider the programming critical for the well-being of all employees.
Both organizations indicated that they promote from within, encourage training and career growth of their employees, and have extremely low turn-over rates relative to industry standards. This suggests that each culture sets up a dynamic for employees of “loving to work there” and “wanting to stay.” Because the organizations were so very different, yet enjoyed similar outcomes of an engaged psychologically healthy workplace, we advocate for a shared acknowledgement. Our visits prove that organizations large and small, public and private, can revolutionize their work environments to create and sustain healthy workplaces for all employees.
We were delighted that at the latest Annual California State Psychological conference in San Francisco it was announced that there were two state-wide award recipients.
For profit: Wells Fargo
Non profit: Seton Medical Center
Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and president of Working Resources, a stra talent management consulting and executive coaching firm base in San Francisco www.workingresources.com.
We specialize in executive selection, leadership consulting, 360-degree feedback, succession planning, competency modeling, change management, interpersonal communication skills, emotional intelligence, culture surveys, career development, and executive coaching.