By Melvina MacDonald, Employee Assistance Program Director, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Inc.
“I feel like if I go on like this, I will get sick.”
“I can’t think, I am confused …”
“I have too much stress at home and work.”
“I need to go home, I can’t do this anymore.”
“I need help.”
These are statements made daily by employees seeking help through our Employee Assistance Program. As employee assistance and mental health professionals, we have been in a position to help employees cope with the multitude of competing priorities both at work and home.
Stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workforce. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress, with low salaries, lack of opportunities for advancement and heavy workloads topping the list of contributing factors (American Psychological Association 2013b). Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. employers $300 billion a year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees. Dental practices also struggle with these same employer challenges.
The American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence has identified psychologically healthy workplaces as a win-win both for both employers and employees. A psychologically healthy workplace fosters employee health and well-being while enhancing practice performance. The following are five evidence-based practices to support employers with improving their work environment:
- Employee Involvement: Look for ways to involve employees in decision making. Provide channels for open two-way communication.
- Health and Safety: Provide access to an employee assistance program and mental health and substance abuse services, prioritize safe practices and communicate concern for employee safety. Provide programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and the prevention and management of workplace stress.
- Employee Growth and Development: Provide skills training and leadership development; seek opportunities to provide avenues for career advancement.
- Work-life Balance: Consider personal and family needs; look for means to offer flexibility in work schedules. Offer flexible benefit plans.
- Employee Recognition: Develop a program for individual and team recognition.
By applying psychologically healthy workplace practices, any dental practice has the potential to activate all the resources of its workforce in meeting the mission of the practice.
“You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.” ~ Renee West, Lexor and Excalibur Hotel
For further information about psychologically healthy workplaces and their successes, go to www.phwa.org, or for information regarding the Tallahassee Memorial Employee Assistance Program, go to www.tmh.org/eap.