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TIPS & LESSONS FOR 2022: Identify Psychosocial Hazards

Advice

Organizations must take Mental Health Safety just as seriously as physical safety and adopt a risk management approach by identifying Psychosocial Hazards in their workplace. When I talk about mental health with teams, the first responses I hear from leaders are "I don't want to be someone's counselor". This is not being the resource for mental health assistance but an opportunity to address work design through surveys. Employers can then make workplace changes they do control that will affect a person's mental wellbeing, which will in turn increase their productivity. 

Psychosocial Hazards include 

  • high or low job demands 
  • lack of role clarity  
  • remote or isolate work
  • poor organizational justice

 

Relevancy for Today's Workforce 

Mental Illnesses like Depression and Suicidal Ideation existed before the pandemic but as most could guess, global data suggests it has increased significantly in the last two years. In the past, employers set up Employee Assistance Plans and checked that off their list of employee mental health support. Those days are gone. A proactive risk management approach is what is needed for organizations to not only retain team members but also attract them. The future of work will prioritize Mental Health Safety and I believe those that embrace it will inadvertently advance other areas such as Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging. 

 

 

4 comments

An excellent topic for discussion. I think that each of the points could benefit from attention; some points also relate to others. Being isolated can result in lack of role clarity and lack of role clarity can impact job demands. A lot of connection. 
Thanks for raising awareness about this, @Kelly Pallanti

Like Kelly Pallanti likes this

@Rose Eliff Thank you Rose! I agree, these issues are all connected. It's time to slow down and take a hard look at how we work. 

Like Rose Eliff likes this
Taranjeet Singh Community Leader Jan 13, 2022

That's a really important tip, @Kelly Pallanti ! I strongly agree that Mental Health safety is of utmost importance in today's remote work scenario.

Like Kelly Pallanti likes this

Very interesting discussion topic! Many companies spend time outfitting physical spaces, considering policies for what's safe and not safe, etc in the name of reducing hazards and improving physical wellness. Those same companies also outsource mental health to things like meditation apps or service providers. But there's a lot more than be done within the company. 

This makes me think that mental health is considered an individual thing (vs a company or team -level thing). But mental health is something that is impacted by work environment and it's interesting to see whether workplaces follow through on that belief with how they react to improving mental health.

Like Kelly Pallanti likes this

You are exactly right @Christine P_ Dela Rosa

It  is going to mean taking an OSHA-like perspective on Mental Health.  In June 2021 the International Organization for Standardization released a standard to support this called ISO 45003 Occupational Health and Safety Management – Psychological Health and Safety at Work – Guidelines for Managing Psychosocial Risks.  It's a great framework to start making Mental Health Safety a priority. 

Like # people like this

I hadn't seen that before @Kelly Pallanti. Thanks for the hot tip. I'm gonna take a read! 

Thanks for the tip @Kelly Pallanti 

I think back to the job I left, and it checked all four hazards! I was in a position where the work I ended up doing was fairly different from the original job description, what I did didn't impact my colleagues, and I was basically an island in the organization with no clear objectives.

Retrospectively, I see that this was because the position had been poorly designed: no one thought about how it would coordinate with other teams, what prep work needed to be done so that the tasks and responsibilities in the job description could actually be possible, and that management would need to set aside time to actually focus on the position.

Like Rose Eliff likes this

Wow - This completely resonates with me. In my current role of technical writer, I am rather isolated from my colleagues, lack clear objectives and the team doesn't consider how their work impacts my role. Documentation is required but how the role integrates with the development team and the rest of the organization has never been defined or supported. Challenging. 

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