Public Release: 

Companies honored for psychologically healthy workplace practices

American Psychological Association salutes best practices honorees

American Psychological Association Practice Directorate

New employee hiring teams, programs that involve employees in making business decisions and even unorthodox policies such as allowing dogs in the workplace are just a few of the innovative best practices companies nationwide are implementing in an effort to create better places for their employees to work, according to a new publication released today by the American Psychological Association (APA).

These business best practices came to light as part of APA's new national recognition program - "The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award: Best Practices Honors," which recognizes companies for innovative programs and policies that support psychologically healthy work environments.

Companies ranging from BellSouth to Washington State University and Small Dog Electronics are among the 15 companies nationwide honored for their ongoing commitment to workplace health and well-being.

"These companies and their best practices serve as a model for corporate America, which is beginning to understand that employees are their best asset," says Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., the APA's executive director for professional practice. "A little investment in psychologically healthy workplaces can pay big dividends in years to come. Creating a psychologically healthy workplace is not just the right thing to do for employees' wellbeing; it's also the smart thing to do for an organization's financial wellbeing and productivity.

A 2002 study by Watson Wyatt Worldwide provides evidence supporting the link between better people management and better financial performance, using a measurement called the Human Capital Index. Many of the companies being honored for their workplace best practices also report that they have seen their efforts pay off financially. For example, the Arkansas Educational Television Network's team hiring program lead to reduced employee turnover.

Each of the organizations honored was nominated for the national recognition by their state's psychological association. Each organization had already been selected as a winner in their respective states' Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards. They were nominated for the national honor because of a unique program or policy that stood out from among the rest. Since 1999, the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award program has been given to businesses and organizations at the state level for business practices that foster a psychologically healthy work environment for employees. The annual award program implemented by 28 states highlights a variety of businesses and organizations from large to small, profit to non-profit. The judging process evaluates applicants on the following four criteria: employee involvement; family support; employee growth and development; and health and safety.

As part of this national recognition program, the honored companies and their programs are featured in a new magazine-style publication produced by APA. A brief description of each of the honorees' innovative programs is included in the publication that can be viewed and downloaded from the APA's web site at www.APApractice.org.

APA announced the honors during the Institute for Health and Productivity Management's (IHPM) 3rd Annual Health and Productivity Management Awards on October 7, 2003 in Scottsdale AZ.

"This is a must-read for managers interested in looking for cost-effective ways to boost employee morale or the bottom line, or both," says Sean Sullivan, IHPM president and CEO.

Studies show companies not only benefit from their psychologically healthy workplace practices, they pay a very real price for inaction. A report from the Journal of Occupational Health and Medicine shows that health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress. These expenditures are even more significant given the fact that corporate healthcare costs continue to accelerate with no slowdown in sight. According to a recent survey by Mercer, there was a 14.7% increase overall in 2002 in corporate healthcare costs.

"In many cases, the Best Practices demonstrate that psychologically healthy work practices make for more productive employees," says Newman. "In addition to honoring them for their achievements, we are showcasing these unique programs to demonstrate to others there are many things that can be done to create psychologically healthy workplaces."

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The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its 53 divisions and its affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science and profession, and as a means of promoting health and human welfare.

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