Here’s my latest article at McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:
In long-term care we spend a lot of time focused on the physical health of those in our care. With increased emphasis on culture change and the update to the MDS (and hopefully as a result of this column), we’ve begun to address the mental health of our residents more adequately.
We do this not only by assessing the needs of individuals, but also by creating a healing emotional environment for all residents. It’s easier for our staff members to create an emotionally healing environment for residents when the work environment is psychologically healthy for them.
What makes a psychologically healthy workplace?
The American Psychological Association (APA) Center for Organizational Excellence recognizes five different elements that contribute to a healthy environment:
- Employee involvement includes efforts to involve employees in decision-making and give them more opportunity for autonomy.
- Work-life balance is a recognition that responsibilities outside work can impact on performance on the job, leading to programs that assist workers in managing childcare, eldercare, financial crises, etc.
- Employee growth and development focuses on offerings that provide employees with the opportunity for new skills and experiences such as coaching or mentoring, continuing education, tuition reimbursement, etc.
- Health and safety comprises programs that work to maximize employees’ physical and emotional health such as stress management programs, adequate insurance, healthy lifestyle motivators, safe practices training on the job, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).
- Employee recognition includes ceremonies that acknowledge individual and group contributions to the organization, performance-based bonuses and pay increases, and acknowledgement of milestones.
The benefits of a psychologically healthy workplace
According to the APA Center for Organizational Excellence, which has been honoring exemplary company practices since 1999, having a healthy workplace isn’t just good for employees. A psychologically healthy environment can reduce staff turnover and absenteeism, improve performance, and enhance the quality of services provided.