Posted by: healingtheworkplace | October 11, 2009

Psychologically Healthy Workplaces Are Vital!

Hi there, what’s on my radar this week? Raising awareness about  psychologically healthy workplaces. 

In the Vancouver Sun newspaper, Jennifer Newman and Darryl Grigg write about  about the need to create psychologically healthy workplaces even in times of recession. Especially when organizations are going through tough economic times.

They quote Dr. David Ballard, executive director for corporate relations and business strategy at the American Psychological Association,

“The goal of creating a psychologically healthy workplace is to optimize outcomes for employees and employers.”

Optimizing outcomes might be the overall goal of creating psychologically healthy workplaces but it doesn’t seem to go far enough in explaining WHY psychologically healthy workplaces are so important.  

Let’s look at this another way. What are the dangers of NOT creating a  healthy workplace?

Here are some startling facts:

  • The Centers for Disease Control have declared workplace violence to be at epidemic levels.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice proclaimed the workplace to be the most dangerous place to be in America.
  • One in four workers are attacked, threatened, or harassed every year.
  • Homicide is the leading cause of on-the-job death for women and the second leading cause of death for me.

Quite frankly I was shocked when I read these statistics in the 2009 edition of The New Manager’s Tool Kit by Don and Sheryl Grimme.

Certainly there are many reasons why there is so much violence in the workplace. The world we live in is increasingly more violent. People are anxious, angry, stressed and frightened.

Add to this mix leaders, managers and/or coworkers who are bullies and you have “set the stage” for workplace violence.

On the one hand you have people who are unstable or on the verge of breaking down and one the other hand you have workplaces that are toxic.

And what happens when violence occurs at work? Who is to blame?

Here’s some more interesting stats:

  • former employees cause only 3% of workplace attacks
  • current employees are responsible for 20%
  • bosses are responsible for 7% of all physical workplace violence
  • customers/clients/strangers are responsible for 44% (WOW)

What can an organization or company do to prevent workplace violence? The first thing is to learn about it.

The second, and perhaps more important, is to create a workplace culture that respects EVERYONE–workers, bosses, customers. In fact, if employees are NOT treated with respect they will probably not treat their customers with respect either.

There are numerous ways to create psychologically healthy workplaces–some I have discussed in earlier posts.

Have a great week and Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadians out there.




  1. Lesley, bravo for raising this topic. Earlier this year, I used my blog to post eight questions that help to reveal the presence or absence of a psychologically healthy workplace. It also led to a very collegial exchange with David Ballard of the APA.

    Best, David Yamada

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