A global study about the psychological health and safety of today’s workplaces recently caught my attention.

The Reuters News-sponsored study by Ipsos Public Affairs found that 27% of 14,000 workers from 24 countries surveyed believe their workplace is not psychologically safe or healthy.

There is some  good news in this study: 47% believe their workplace is safe and healthy. That is higher than expected given the results of studies and articles regarding workplace satisfaction during the global recession.

26% of surveyed workers in the Ipsos study are on the fence; they did not feel one way or the other. Is this “middle of the pack” ranking a good thing? No. These scores (5-6 on a 10 point scale) indicate respondents do not believe their workplace is awful, but it is not, in their minds, psychologically safe.

The Benefits of Psychological Healthy Workplaces

The American Psychological Association‘s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards program has identified these benefits to employees:

  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Higher morale
  • Better physical and mental health
  • Enhanced motivation
  • Improved ability to manage stress

. . . and these benefits to organizations:

  • Improved quality, performance, and productivity
  • Reduced absenteeism and turnover
  • Fewer accidents and injuries
  • Better ability to attract and retain top-quality employees
  • Improved customer service and satisfaction
  • Lower healthcare costs

Creating Psychologically Healthy Workplaces

Despite the powerful benefits to employees and organizations listed above, most organizations focus primarily (some exclusively) on getting products and services delivered. Too few organizations pay close attention to the environment employees exist in while trying to deliver those products and services.

How can you improve the psychological healthy of your work environment? The responsibility falls on the shoulders of the organization’s leaders, from senior leaders through supervisor ranks.

Leaders at all levels of an organization must pay equal attention to employee performance AND employee work passion. If day-to-day practices, policies, and procedures erode employee well-being, that organization will not be perceived as a psychologically healthy workplace. In fact, if only a FEW day-to-day practices erode employee well-being, your organization will not enjoy the benefits noted above.

In my new book with Lisa Zigarmi, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, we present five elements of well-being and describe the best practices of those elements in employee’s work lives. Those elements include:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Positive Relationships
  • Positive Meaning & Purpose
  • Positive Accomplishment
  • Positive Physical Health

Each of these elements contribute strongly to workplace psychological health. Let’s look at the impact that the first two of these have on psychological safety.

Emotion is a huge driver of the perceptions of workplace health. At work, if an employee feels fear, exclusion, taken advantage of, anxiety, or frustration due to the behaviors of others, those diminish and even quash personal well-being. Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, awe, appreciation, and serenity – create personal well-being and lead to greater trust, respect, and application of discretionary energy in the workplace.

Relationships are the most important driver of personal well-being. If one’s work relationships are based on interactions that validate, honor, inspire, and enable, there are immediate benefits not only to well-being but to productivity, creativity, and cooperative interaction, as well.

The Ipsos study revealed that 47% of employee surveyed believe their workplace is psychologically safe and healthy . . . and (therefore) 54% did not. Organizational leaders should strive for a work environment that is seen as psychologically healthy in every way by 100% of it’s members.

What is your experience with psychological workplace health? Add your comments below.

Learn more about my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. You can view our video on why we wrote the book, get a FREE excerpt (and automatically be entered in our monthly contest for the entire ebook), and more!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/doxadigital

S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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Reader Interactions


  1. AvatarKen says

    Most company cultures are a direct result of the leadership, whether intended or not. Changing or improving the culture is an involved process, and simply committing the time, energy and effort to that process is a great first step.

    • Chris EdmondsChris Edmonds says

      Exactly right, Ken – leadership drives company culture. And, most of the time (in our experience), the culture is not intentionally created. It happens by default! We’re working hard to help companies design their desired cultures.



      • AvatarShirley says

        Yes, Chris, what you call ‘default’; I call random. When culture is not deliberately created or carefully chosen and upheld; who knows what you might end up with.

        • Chris EdmondsChris Edmonds says

          Thanks for your thoughts, Shirley. Creating & managing a corporate culture with anything less than intentionality is a recipe for inconsistent delivery, mediocre employee morale, and poor profits.