PSB Solutions logoPSB Solutions - Achieving positive, lasting change


The Thinking Cap

Tips, tricks and solutions from the team at PSB Solutions. We offer solutions in regards to people, safety, and business.

Safety Culture Frameworks

PSB Solutions - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Successful organisations rely on building a culture of safety in the workplace, in which everyone collectively strives to achieve.  A strong safety culture is one in which safety is valued and prioritised within an organisation, and there is a real commitment to safety at all levels, even when no one is watching.   

I already have systems in place.  Why do I need a safety culture?

Research has shown that a Safety Management System (SMS) incorporating workplace inspections, policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities, cannot achieve safe performance alone.  In fact, without a safety culture even the best designed systems will fail.  For example, if a person believes that safety is not important, then they are likely to cut corners, or make unsafe decisions or judgements, especially when the perceived risk of harm is small.  Therefore, an organisation’s safety culture has a direct impact on safe performance, and is important in understanding why systems fail or succeed. 

How can I build a strong safety culture?

The safety culture of an organisation is the product of the people’s values, beliefs, behaviours, attitudes, and commitment towards safety.  Building a safety culture is not as easy as calling a meeting and saying, “Ok, now we’re going to have a strong safety culture.”  What you can do is create a framework that guides your organisation towards achieving a strong safety culture and defines the behaviours of each member of your organisation.

Building your framework

First, you need to define what a safety culture looks like in your organisation.  Psychologist James Reason’s (1998; 2000) framework suggests that building a strong safety culture consists of combining five cultures, including (1) an informed culture, (2) a reporting culture, (3) a just culture, (4) a flexible culture, and (5) a learning culture.

In an informed culture there is a level of awareness by those who manage and operate the organisation on factors such as people, jobs, and the workplace environment that could impact safe performance.  In an informed culture the organisation collects, analyses, and disseminates safety information such as near-misses and errors. 

In a reporting culture there is an atmosphere in which people have the willingness and confidence to report any safety concerns (such as near-misses and errors) without any fear of blame.  It is important in a reporting culture people know that the confidentiality of their information will be maintained, and the information they submit will be acted upon.  Otherwise, people may decide that there is no benefit in reporting.      

Similar to a reporting culture, a just culture is where reporting safety concerns are encouraged with an emphasis on learning rather than blame.  For example, in a just culture a person performing an unsafe act will not be punished if their act was unintentional.  However, it is important to understand that having a “no-blame” culture is not possible.  For example, a person who acts recklessly or takes a deliberate risk should be subject to disciplinary action.  Therefore, in a just culture people still need to be aware of what is acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour. 

In a flexible culture the organisation and its people are capable of adapting effectively to changing demands.  Such adaptability is an important feature of organisations striving towards a strong safety culture.

Finally, an organisation must have a learning culture, in which they are able to analyse safety data, draw the right conclusions, learn from mistakes, and act upon recommendations. 

Defining your behaviours

To complete your safety culture framework, it is important to define what behaviours are required at every level of your organisation, so that each member knows what they need to do as part of that culture.  There are a number of ways all levels in the organisation can contribute to building a strong safety culture.  At the managerial level, these are:

  • Communicating safety and health related information to everyone.
  • Being honest.
  • Communicating the organisation’s vision.
  • Implementing safety and health related solutions.
  • Providing safety and health related training for everyone.
  • Being visibly committed towards safety.
  • Avoiding silos through poor communication channels.
  • Being just and holding people accountable for non-acceptable behaviour.
  • Confronting the inherent risks within their operations.
  • Taking part in systems such as risk assessments and inspections.

At the supervisory level, these are:

  • Encouraging upward communication.
  • Reinforcing the team on safe performance by providing feedback.
  • Learning from mistakes.
  • Listening to the team’s safety concerns and managers, and providing feedback.
  • Actively involving the team to participate in safety.
  • Encouraging team collaboration.
  • Sharing responsibility for non-acceptable behaviour.
  • Promoting risk awareness in the team.
  • Taking part in systems such as risk assessments and inspections.

At all levels in the organisation, everyone can contribute to building a strong safety culture.  These are:

  • Speaking up to raise health and safety concerns.
  • Listening to safety and health related information.
  • Reporting errors, near-misses and incidents.
  • Suggesting safety and health related solutions.
  • Accepting feedback.
  • Actively participating in safety.
  • Taking responsibility for non-acceptable behaviour.
  • Being mindful of risks and stopping work if the job is unsafe.

An example of combining the elements of your safety culture framework and defining behaviours might look like this:

 

Management

Supervisors

Everyone

Supporting Safety Systems

Learning Culture

Implement solutions, Provide training, Be prepared, Know your risks

Learn from mistakes, Listen to the experts, Provide feedback

Report errors, Suggest solutions, Accept feedback

Reporting systems, Behaviour Based Safety, Mentors


What are the benefits of a safety culture framework?

The benefits of incorporating a safety culture framework go way beyond reducing compensation claims, insurance premiums, decreasing absence from work, and reducing fines and lawsuits.  A safety culture framework also:

  • Creates clarity at all levels in the organisation on how to achieve a strong safety culture.
  • Creates a common safety language throughout the organisation, which aids in building a strong safety culture.
  • Allows for the integration of an existing Safety Management System (SMS) and a Human Resources System.  For example, performance management systems can include behaviours from a safety culture framework.
  • Allows for any gaps in a Safety Management System to be identified and managed.
  • Can be given to independent contractors to support their own efforts in improving their own health and safety.  This allows for contractor led initiatives to complement the organisation’s safety culture.  

References

Ardern, J. (2012). Creating a safety culture. Accessed on January 2nd, 2013 from

http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/Worksafe/PDF/Forums/safety_culture-Jane_.pdf.

Reason, J. (1998). Achieving a safe culture: Theory and practice. Work & Stress, 12(3), 293-306.

Reason, J. (2000). Human error: Models and management. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 320(7237), 768.

Van der Graaf, G., & Hudson, P. (2002). Hearts and Minds: The status after 15 years research. In SPE International Conference on Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production.

Recommended Readings

Cooper, M. D. (2000). Towards a model of safety culture. Safety Science, 36(2), 111-136.

Golda, E. O. (2013). Framework for developing and sustaining sound safety culture in a developing economy. European Journal of Natural and Applied Sciences, 1(1), 28-37.





Mindful Culture

PSB Solutions - Monday, December 09, 2013

A mindful safety culture is one that is perceptive to danger, acknowledges that there are risks involved in people’s jobs, knows what these risks are, and is sensitive to warning signs. In a mindful culture, personnel at all levels are acutely aware that the best systems can fail, and this mindset is reflected in their beliefs and actions. 

Mindful cultures were researched by Weick and Sutcliffe with their ground breaking work on ‘High Reliability Organisations’ (HROs) – high-risk organisations that maintain a high standard of safety over time, in part due to their commitment to a mindful safety culture.

A mindful culture has five key traits:

Preoccupation with failure

To be preoccupied with failure means to be continuously seeking out problems and focussing on areas of past failure. Some organisations may see this as paranoia, whereas others see it as a necessity for reducing the frequency and likelihood of errors occurring in the future. These organisations encourage personnel to report, examine and discuss errors and near misses to gain understanding and make changes to prevent them from occurring again. Mindful organisations are constantly alert and working to fight complacency, the temptation to reduce safety statistics and the risks of personnel running on autopilot.

Reluctance to simplify

A successfully mindful organisation refuses to simplify work processes. This concept may sound like the organisation is creating more work, particularly in a world where we are trying to make work tasks more efficient and reliable. However, what “reluctance to simplify” means is refusing to over-simplify explanations or interpretations of what has occurred in the past and what may happen in the future. These organisations have systems and resources in place that encourage the ongoing collection and interpretation of data to search for trends.

Sensitivity to operations

A sensitivity to operations is a constant awareness from both the leadership team and personnel on the current state of processes and systems within the organisation. Maintaining awareness and sensitivity ensures that issues are noticed and events can be prevented. The organisation realises that all personnel involved need to have a shared and accurate understanding of operations to assist in predicting future states. This is achieved through employees providing leaders with accurate and current information regarding operations. A culture must exist where not only good news is reported, but individuals are not afraid or hesitant to report bad news. The accuracy of the information reported will help the organisation to determine their current reality, identify the gaps, and thus be able to prioritise responsibilities.

Commitment to resilience

Resilience is the ability to return to one’s original state after being placed in a stressful situation. Mindful organisations committed to resilience pay close attention to their ability to effectively manage errors and recover swiftly. A commitment to resilience is about understanding that recovery from a problem is equally as important as the prevention of the issue. This means that organisations need to consider that if something goes wrong, do the systems, processes and tools in place assist or hinder their recovery process? If they do hinder recovery, what can be done to make them more effective in the management of error in future?

Deference to expertise

In a mindful organisation, a culture exists where all personnel and leaders will defer to individuals with the greatest knowledge, experience, and understanding of the issue being addressed. This does not mean that this person has all the necessary information in order to respond to the issue, but enables the team to make more precise choices based on the person with the greatest level of expertise. This opens up communication and ensures that the process flows more smoothly, enabling all areas of potential failure to be explored.

How can PSB Solutions help?

Reaching the state of a mindful culture can seem quite daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start. PSB Solutions can assist your organisation by creating a step-by-step plan towards achieving this goal. PSB Solutions understands and recognises that change does not happen overnight, but comes as a result of an effective process involving feedback and openness from personnel. We offer a consultative approach to organisations, assisting in the development and implementation of culture change in regards to safety. For more information, or if you would like to have a discussion regarding what you’ve read today, please contact us on (08) 9489 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au.


Bouncing Back: Building a Resilient Workforce

PSB Solutions - Thursday, October 31, 2013

Failure is a common occurrence within the workforce. Applying for a tender and missing out, a colleague being promoted over you, experiencing a safety incident, or having a setback on a project deliverable are all examples of the perceived failures we can face at work. How your workforce responds to these perceived failures can affect the competitiveness of your organisation and the degree to which employees reach their potential.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Imagine you have two employees, Jane and Simon, who have just received negative performance appraisals. Both initially feel a little hurt, demotivated and are unable to concentrate properly for the rest of the day.  

However, when your team meets the next morning, Jane arrives brimming with enthusiasm. Overnight Jane has reassured herself that she is good at what she does; she can improve on some keys areas and decides to schedule a meeting with her supervisor to discuss the review in detail. Meanwhile Simon is still dejected. He feels the performance appraisal confirms his belief that he isn’t able to work in such a competitive environment. The performance review echoes in his mind every time he thinks about work. Several months down the track, Jane has applied for two development courses and has received a promotion. Simon begins to spiral into hopelessness and eventually leaves his role for something with less pressure.

What differentiates the Janes from the Simons? Can you engineer a resilient workforce?        

                                                

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability of an individual to positively adjust to adversity or to develop adaptive strategies to deal with adversity. The study of resilience and other similar positive psychology traits have recently been brought into the spotlight through the work of Martin Seligman. Seligman began his career studying failure and helplessness. He and his colleagues developed the theory of ‘learned helplessness’, a condition whereby animals and humans learn to behave helplessly, failing to change their behaviour even though there are opportunities for them to help themselves.

In a famous experiment, Hiroto and Seligman (1975) randomly divided people into three groups. The people in the first group were played an annoyingly loud noise that they could silence by pressing a button in front of them. In the second group, people were exposed to the same noise but weren’t able to turn it off. In the third group, the participants couldn’t hear anything. Later that day the participants were all faced with a new situation that exposed them to the same loud annoying sound. In this case, all participants had to do to silence the sound was to move their hands approximately 30cm. The people in the first and third groups were quick to realise this and learnt to avoid the sound. In contrast to this, the people in the second group typically did nothing. They had ‘learnt’ earlier in the day that their behaviours had little effect on the outcome of turning the noise off, so did nothing. They have literally learned helplessness. What is interesting is that approximately one third of people and animals exposed to similar situations and experiments never learn helplessness. They continue to fight to improve their situation. Seligman suggests that this largely to do with an individual’s disposition towards optimism and resilience.

What are the benefits of a resilient workforce?

There are both individual and employer benefits for improving resilience within the workplace.

For individuals, resilience has been linked to:

  • improved well-being;
  • reduction in stress;
  • positive affect; and
  • improved performance.

Benefits at the individual level have a positive flow on effect to the organisational level, where resilience has been associated with:

  • reduced turnover and turnover intentions;
  • reduced employee sick leave;
  • fewer compensation claims; and
  • achieving better performance outcomes (eg. care outcomes in a hospital setting).

Can you develop resilience?

The simple answer is yes. Resilience is similar to a skill like time-management. Some people seem to naturally have the skill and are able to seamlessly apply it to their work, whereas others need the skill developed. Martin Seligman has recently pioneered a global resilience development program within the U.S. Army, an organisation with high-risk of trauma and adversity. They have had a high degree of success and buy-in from the army personnel. Resilience development programs have also been suggested for hospital nursing staff who are often confronted with a number of challenges such as staffing shortages, bullying, abuse and violence, occupational health and safety issues, and frequent restructuring (see Jackson, Firtko & Edenborough, 2007).

If you would like more information about what PSB Solutions can do to help build resilience in your workplace, give us a call on (08) 9489 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au.

Reading List

Seligman, M. (2011). Building Resilience. Harvard Business Review, 89(4), 100-106.

Jackson, D., Firtko, A., & Edenborough, M. (2007). Personal resilience as a strategy for surviving and thriving in the face of workplace adversity: A literature review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 60(1), 1-9.

APPEA Health and Safety Conference 2013

PSB Solutions - Thursday, October 24, 2013

Marisa and Meghann recently presented 'Achieving a Positive Safety Culture Through Leadership' at the APPEA Health and Safety Conference to a crowd of oil and gas professionals in Perth. We’ve made the presentation slides available for download here:

PSB APPEA Conference 2013 Slides (PDF, 900kb)

Outplacement: The Next Step

PSB Solutions - Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Outplacement: The Next Step

Market demand, mergers, acquisitions, reorganisations, changes in management, and the introduction of technical innovations inevitably bring about resource reviews, and the separation of employees from the organisation.

Changes such as these not only affect the separated individual; they can impact the organisation’s brand and the morale of remaining employees. Navigating these changes effectively is crucial.

Outplacement is a structured process designed to assist separated employees to find new opportunities, while helping to minimise the distress associated with being unemployed. Outplacement services have many benefits at both an organisational and individual level. These are described below.

 

Benefits of Outplacement Services

Organisational

  • Enhance the company brand and reputation as one that looks after their people.
  • Increase the chances of retention of those employees you require to take the company forward.
  • Retain a level of productivity and help to minimise any negative impact on costs.

Individual

  • Provide support in dealing with all aspects of being separated from the organisation including managing anger and hurt and instilling confidence.
  • Change the focus to their personal career needs and future.
  • Provide the tools to carry out reflection of their career to date.
  • Provide an assessment of key personal strengths.
  • Assist in developing a clear action plan for the future.
  • Guide them in the latest knowledge and skills to carry out an effective job search in the current market.
  • Equip them with a CV and strategies for gaining employment.
  • Provide them with interviewing skills and knowledge of behavioural questions.
  • Give them confidence and reassurance in their chosen future be it employment, re-training, business or retirement.

  

How PSB Solutions Can Help?

As psychologists, we at PSB Solutions understand the psychological impact behind leaving a job, and the potential stressors of making a transition to a new life. Our background in psychology enables us to understand and help individuals to prepare for their next stage.

A key area of differentiation between PSB Solutions and other providers is our ability to utilise assessment tools to provide individuals with insight into their strengths, areas for development and personality characteristics when considering best career choices or person-organisation fit in future.

The following stages reflect our core outplacement service offerings:

 

Depending on the level of program chosen by the organisation, exiting employees are also provided with the following options:

 

Other Services:

In addition to the services outlined above, PSB Solutions specialise in:

  • Effective Communication Skills;
  • Essentials of Stress Management;
  • Essentials of Fatigue Management; and
  • Psychosocial Risk Awareness.

For additional information on these services and how they may be of benefit in supporting individuals to find the right career and life balance in future roles please contact PSB Solutions for details. PSB Solutions are able to tailor their packages to incorporate these services on an individual basis, as required.

Contact Us

If you would like to know more about our outplacement services, phone us at (08) 9489 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au

 

 

I’ll Call PSB Solutions, Eventually: Procrastination and its Effect on Health.

PSB Solutions - Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Do you ever find yourself thinking “I’ll do that tomorrow”? Have you got a number of deadlines looming that you’re putting off? Or, perhaps you’re reading this to avoid doing something else.

A majority of the working population report that they sometimes procrastinate, and a significant minority even admit to having personal, job-related, or financial difficulties because of their procrastinating behaviours.

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is the act of putting off impending tasks to do another activity that an individual finds enjoyable or replacing more urgent requirements with less urgent tasks. Most employees procrastinate to some extent every day. Minor procrastination, such as scheduling a meeting with a friendly client before completing a tiresome report, may actually be beneficial. This kind of procrastination is likely to keep employees engaged in their work and may be a way of motivating themselves by fostering a positive mood before starting an unpleasant task. However, when procrastination becomes more frequent and pervasive there can be a number of costs. Severe procrastinators have been shown to deliver poorer quality work than their less-procrastinating colleagues. They are also much more likely to miss crucial deadlines than those that procrastinate less, suggesting that the old adage ‘I work better under pressure’ may not in fact be true. Adding to the costs to performance, high procrastination has also been associated with a number of negative health outcomes (Tice & Baumeister, 1997).

What are the health costs of procrastination?

Researchers have linked procrastination to a number of negative outcomes, such as:

  • anxiety;
  • depression;
  • stress;
  • a sense of guilt and crisis;
  • loss of personal productivity; and/or
  • lowered sense of self-worth.

These issues, as well as compensatory procrastination behaviours (such as staying up all night to meet a deadline) have been shown to manifest in physical symptoms, such as:

  • decreased physical immunity to the common cold and the flu;
  • difficulty sleeping/insomnia;
  • muscle tension;
  • headaches;
  • fatigue/loss of energy; and/or
  • under eating or over eating.

Engaging in procrastination can clearly lead to a number of long-term health issues, so it is important to understand the reasons behind this behaviour.

Why do people procrastinate?

In a large scale review of a number of studies, van Eerde (2003) reported a number of individual psychological characteristics that increase the chance of an individual engaging in procrastination. These include (in order of their importance):

  • low Conscientiousness (individuals who are laid-back and less goal-oriented);
  • low Self-efficacy (individuals who believe their own abilities are poor);
  • low Self-esteem (individuals with poor emotional evaluation of self-worth);
  • high Neuroticism (individuals who are emotional, worried, and moody);
  • high Trait Anxiety (individuals who have a stable tendency to respond anxiously in situations); and
  • high Pessimism (individuals with tendency to focus on undesirable outcomes).

From a physiological standpoint, some researchers suggest that procrastination may be caused by poor impulse control. Interestingly, van Eerde (2003) found no relationship between age, gender or intellectual ability and procrastination. So if you were hoping that you would grow out of procrastination, research suggests that it’s unlikely! Contrary to popular belief, there is also no relationship between perfectionism (a personality trait characterised by an individual striving for flawless performance) and procrastination.

Treating Procrastination

For individuals who engage in minor to moderate procrastination, treatment might be as simple as improving time-management, personal coaching or professional development. More serious procrastinators with other presenting issues (such as depression or anxiety) may require clinical intervention to achieve long-lasting behavioural change.

How can PSB Solutions help with procrastination?

PSB Solutions can offer a number of services that can help you or your organisation break out of the procrastination cycle. Using empirically validated psychometric assessments, PSB Solutions can provide personal coaching, development and workshops on time-management and team building. We can also help you to select employees that are less likely to procrastinate. So don’t put it off, give us a call on (08) 9489 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au.

Reading List

Tice, D.M., & Baumeister, R.F. (1997) Longitudinal study of procrastination, performance, stress and health: The costs of dawdling. Psychological Science, 454-458.

van Eerde, W. (2003). A meta-analytically derived nomological network of procrastination, Personality and Individual Differences. 35, 1401-1418.

 

Selecting Safe Workers – Not As Easy As You Think

PSB Solutions - Monday, August 05, 2013

Have you ever thought safety on site wouldn’t be an issue if you could just avoid hiring those few ‘bad apples’? Can you use psychometric or selection assessments to hire safe workers?

There is a growing body of research examining the relationship between individual traits and incident involvement. The aim of this research is to determine whether some employees are simply “accident-prone” or more likely to take risks on the job and whether or not you can spot these people early in the recruitment process. While many will assure you that this is possible, empirical research suggests that there isn’t a ‘quick fix’.

You have safety signs around your workplace. Your employees are reminded that safety is a top priority and they go through a thorough induction process, and yet, you feel like the safety in your workplace could be improved. Or perhaps you’re sick of meeting with the same people to remind them of the organisation’s commitment to safety. Are there individuals who are just prone to being unsafe in the workplace? Is it to do with their personality?

Personality and safety behaviours

Personality is the relatively stable set of attitudes and behaviours that make up an individual’s character. The Big Five model of personality is the most common framework used to classify personality traits, so named because it groups all personality traits into five main dimensions. These dimensions are:

  • Openness to experience
    • A tendency to appreciate art and adventure and to be creative and curious.
  • Conscientiousness
    • A tendency to meet deadlines, be self-disciplined and goal-oriented.
  • Extroversion
    • A tendency to engage in the external world with energy and vitality.
  • Agreeableness
    • A tendency to be kind and cooperative with others.
  • Neuroticism (or emotionality)
    • A tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, depression or anger.

In a large review of organisations, researchers found that individuals low in agreeableness (people who tend to be less concerned with others’ well-being) were more likely to be involved in occupational incidents. Similarly, those low in conscientiousness (people who tend to be laid-back and less goal-oriented) were also more likely to be involved in incidents in the workplace. There have not been consistent relationships between other personality traits and workplace accidents. 

Products on the market

Does this research mean that you can select employees with the right personality for high-risk workplaces? The answer is not really.

There are a number of products on the market advertising that they can detect unsafe workers. Some use weak links between the research into personality and accident involvement to determine whether employees will be unsafe in the workplace. The problem with this approach is that the research into personality traits and incident involvement is not particularly conclusive. A lot of research involves non-occupational accidents, such as traffic accidents, that are likely to be influenced by different factors. Research is also yet to identify why these people are more likely to be involved in incidents. Other products ask employees to self-report their own safety behaviours. This approach also has its issues, such as employees lying or answering the way they think they are supposed to answer.

In addition, the organisational culture of your workplace will affect how an individual behaves, so this is an important aspect to consider. For example, a generally rule-following employee is unlikely to don a hard-hat if no-one else in the organisation is modelling that behaviour. There is a dynamic interplay between individual’s behaviour and organisational culture.

If you are considering using a safety selection product, it is important to determine whether these products are based on empirical evidence, otherwise you may just be wasting your money. Some questions to ask are:

  • Is the product reliable? Are people likely to get a similar result under consistent situations?
  • Is the product valid? Does it predict unsafe workers or incident involvement?
  • Has the product been validated in your industry? Different industries are likely to have different safety requirements so it is important to check whether it has been endorsed for use in your industry.
  • Do they offer a consultation to assess your specific safety behaviour requirements? Every organisation is different, so assessing your specific needs is vital.

How PSB Solutions can help organisations with creating safe workplaces

PSB Solutions can help you to navigate the difficult process of deciding whether psychometric assessment is right for you. At PSB Solutions, evidence-based practice is our creed. We provide our clients with strategies that are scientifically proven to deliver positive outcomes in safety performance. We offer a consultative approach to organisational safety that incorporates selection and induction processes as well as safety climate assessment and development.

By using a holistic approach to selection and induction processes, leadership behaviours, policy reviews, training, performance management, and monitoring of organisational health via our Workforce Climate Indicator and Blue Pulse Safety Climate surveys, we can make your organisation safer and more productive.

If you would like to know more about our safety assessment services, give us a call on (08) 9489 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au

Reading list

Clarke, S. & Robertson, I.T. (2005) A meta-analytic review of the Big Five personality factors and accident involvement in occupational and non-occupational settings, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78, 355-376.

Psychosocial Risk Management

PSB Solutions - Thursday, July 18, 2013

Are there hazards in your work environment that may affect your employees’ psychological wellbeing? Do you need to do anything about them?

Workplace health and safety laws under the harmonised legislation are giving greater prominence to psychological risk factors at work. The primary duty contained in the Work Health and Safety Act requires employers to eliminate or minimise risks to psychological health so far as is reasonably practicable.

Psychological injury is an injury to mental wellbeing and/or a loss of cognitive function. Typical examples include depression and anxiety. Evidence from Comcare shows that claims resulting from psychological injury are considerably higher than other injuries. These costs are both direct – such as medical expenses and compensation claims, and indirect – costs arising from absenteeism and reduced productivity.

Managing psychological risk is clearly important from a legislative and financial perspective. So what are psychosocial hazards that may contribute to psychological injury and how do you manage them?

                                              

 

What are psychosocial hazards?

Psychosocial hazards are aspects of the work environment and the way that work is organised that are associated with psychological and/or physical injury or illness. Examples of psychosocial hazards may include job content, workload, and work schedule. For example, an employee with a high workload and pending deadlines may experience increased levels of stress, which can have various negative effects as outlined below.

What is the impact of psychosocial hazards?

When psychosocial risk factors are not effectively managed they can negatively impact at both the personal and organisational level.

At the personal level, psychosocial hazards may result in:

  • Loss of concentration
  • Poor decision making
  • At-risk behaviours
  • Depression / anxiety
  • Reduced productivity

At an organisational level, psychosocial hazards may result in:

  • Increased workers’ compensation
  • Absenteeism
  • Increased litigation
  • Decline of organisational and/or safety culture
  • Turnover
  • Morale

What are the benefits of managing psychosocial risk?

It follows logically that there are substantial benefits to both individuals and employers that arise from eliminating and preventing workplace stress. These include higher rates of productivity, reduced workers’ compensation claims and increased employee morale and job satisfaction.

How PSB Solutions helps organisations to identify and manage psychosocial risks

PSB Solutions promotes a consultative approach to psychosocial risk management that incorporates hazard identification and control measure frameworks with a focus on contributing organisational and personal wellbeing factors.

We extend our framework to include a focus on selection and induction processes, leadership behaviours, policy reviews, training, performance management, and monitoring of organisational health via our Workforce Climate Indicator and Safety Climate surveys.

If you would like to know more about our approach to Psychosocial Risk Management, give us a call on (08) 9489 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au

Further reading

www.comcare.gov.au

 

 

 

Does Behaviour Based Safety Really Work?

PSB Solutions - Thursday, June 06, 2013

At PSB Solutions, evidence-based practice is our creed. We provide our clients with strategies that are scientifically proven to deliver positive outcomes in safety performance.  Behaviour Based Safety (BBS) is one such strategy. Although BBS has advocates and critics, its positive influence on safety performance is significant. This is highlighted through a number of studies that have examined the effectiveness of BBS programs and shown that they lead to significant safety performance improvements1. One study in particular examined three petroleum refinery sites that had implemented a BBS program over a 20 year period2. At the end of the study the following improvements were observed across the three refinery sites: 

  • an 81% decrease in recordable incidents;
  • a 79% decrease in lost-time incidents;  and
  • a 97% savings in annual workers compensation costs over an eight-year period.


These statistics considered, a BBS program will only succeed if the organisation is committed and the culture is ready. BBS is most likely to succeed when leadership is committed, personnel are engaged with the program’s objectives and there are effective feedback processes.

Here are key best-practice guidelines that any well designed BBS program should comprise to drive positive outcomes in safety:

  1. An initial safety climate assessment to gauge cultural readiness for the implementation of a BBS program. If the culture is not ready for a BBS program, as indicated by mistrust of management and poor team functioning, the BBS program will fail.
  2. Commitment and involvement of the leadership team in the program. If the leadership team is not committed to providing the resources (in terms of time to conduct observations and training to support personnel in their observation skills) the BBS program will suffer.
  3. Ongoing training that upskill personnel in their observation and feedback skills, which further serves to create buy-in to the program.  
  4. The development of a comprehensive behaviour checklist that defines key safe behaviours linked to the prevention of incidents and injuries.
  5. The provision of comprehensive and ongoing safety observation training.
  6. Observations conducted on a regular basis.
  7. Analysis of BBS observation data that highlights key areas for improvement and strength.
  8. Personnel receiving feedback directly after an observation and also at a group level where trends are highlighted and discussed.
  9. Team acknowledgement of participation and engagement in the BBS program.
  10. Nomination of a steering committee group/champions of the BBS program that internally supports observations, trending, analysis and feedback.

If you have any questions, or think your organisation can benefit from a BBS Program, contact PSB Solutions, the BBS specialists.

References

  1. Krause, T. R., Seymour, K. J., & Sloat, K.C.M. (1999). Long-term evaluation of a behaviour based method for improving safety performance: A meta-analysis of 73 interrupted time-series replications. Safety Science, 32, 1-18.
  2. Myers, W. V., McSween, T. E., Medina, R. E., Rost, K., & Alvero, A. M. (2010). The implementation and maintenance of a behavioural safety process in a petroleum refinery. Journal of Organisational Behaviour. 4, 285-307.

 

Organisational Climate Surveys - Checking the Health Status of your Organisation

PSB Solutions - Friday, May 24, 2013

You might be a manager. Or maybe you’re an Organisational Development professional. You may even be the CEO. You know how you work, and you probably know how your team works. Do you know how your organisation works? How do you get people to tell you about your company in a non-defensive or confrontational way? Are people engaged? Are they happy? Do they know how their role fits into the larger organisational objectives?

In an ideal world, you could gather everyone together in a large meeting room for a day and ask for their opinions. However, this takes significant time out of everyone’s day, and you can’t guarantee that everyone will be provided with a chance to voice their opinions. You could round up your team leaders and department heads to provide you with a summary of how they think their teams are feeling about the business. However, all you are really getting here is second-hand information at best. How do you ensure that you’re not simply being provided with the good news?

 

Enter organisational climate surveys. Climate surveys such as the Workplace Climate Indicator™ target the perceptions of your workforce. These surveys provide everyone with a voice – from ground floor personnel to the executive suite. Quick and easy to use, these well-established tools allow you to target every individual in your organisation to provide honest, confidential and anonymous feedback regarding how they perceive the company for which they work.

In some instances, the voices of your personnel may not be an accurate reflection of what’s actually going on in your organisation. However, this is equally as important to pay attention to. If your employees hold a different perception of how the organisation is functioning compared to reality (or compared to management), this tells you that there is a breakdown in communication or alignment somewhere along the way.

What is working well? Are there areas for improvement?  Are people working in alignment with each other and the corporate goals? These are all questions that a high quality organisational climate survey should help to answer.

Organisational climate surveys investigate a range of factors impacting the workplace, such as:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Job involvement
  • Rate of change
  • Decision-making effectiveness
  • Teamwork
  • Interdepartmental relationships
  • Remuneration
  • Policies and practices
  • Product quality
  • Flexibility
  • Supervisor support
       

At PSB Solutions we have developed The Workplace Climate Indicator™, which measures a wide range of organisational factors. PSB Solutions have extensive experience in the areas of survey design, implementation and analysis. Our ethically-bound, confidential and rigorous methodologies ensure that the results are accurate and interpreted appropriately. We can also help if there are areas of interest that you would like to target specific to your industry or business.

If you would like to know more about our Workplace Climate Indicator™, give us a call on (08) 9489 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au