Psychosocial Risk: Moving from risk to opportunity

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Information about Psychosocial Risk: Moving from risk to opportunity
Business & Mgmt

Published on March 13, 2014

Author: Kazakhmys



Organizations don't understand PSR and less what to do about it. But what if you could turn the problem and eliminate the risk by focusing on the opportunity. The flip side of PSR is Employee Engagement and performance.

Removing the Barriers to Potential PSYCHOSOCIAL RISK Moving from Risk to Opportunity February 2014

2 Could it happen in your organisation? 2012 “Former Telecom CEO has been indicted by a court and bailed over allegations that he led a corporate culture of bullying and harassment that resulted in the suicide of at least 30 employees.”

3 What is Psychosocial Risk (PSR)?  Risk = The probability /uncertainty of a negative effect on objectives (Leitch 2009)  Probability / Uncertainty appears in different forms:  Are Psychosocial Hazards present in my organisation?  Do Psychosocial Hazards create the Psychosocial Stress (mismatch in a role)?  If Psychosocial Hazards are present in my organisation will they have a negative effect on its objectives?  What can be done to identify and eliminate Psychosocial Hazards?  Thus, Psychosocial Risk (PSR) is the uncertainty of the effects that Psychosocial Hazards may have on the objectives of the organisation Psychosocial Hazards are those aspects of the design and management of work, and its social and organisational contexts that have the potential for causing psychological or physical harm (Cox & Griffiths, 2005).

4 What is Psychosocial Stress at Work?  PSR goes hand-in-hand with work related stress  Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope (WHO 2003)  Burnout is a result of continued exposure to work related stress  Work-related stress, violence, harassment, bullying (or mobbing) are now widely recognised major challenges to occupational health and safety (EU-OSHA, 2007). Psychosocial stress at work is the result of a mismatch between the complexity of problems a person needs to deal at work and the capability of the person to deal with the challenges due to the negative impact of psychosocial hazards

5 The Cost of a poor Psychosocial Work Environment  Turnover  Excessive Sick Leave  Lost time Accidents  Premature Retirement  Grievance and Litigation  Damage to Consumer/Employer brand  Increased Operational Risk  Poor Performance/Productivity  And the list goes on ………… “Probably the highest cost of a poor Psychosocial Work Environment is a DISENGAGED Workforce causing Organisations to dramatically underperform”

6 Psychosocial Hazards PSYCHOSOCIAL HAZARDS (WHO 2010) Job Content Lack of variety or short work cycles, fragmented or meaningless work, under use of skills, high uncertainty, continuous exposure to people through work Workload & Pace Work overload or under load, machine pacing, high levels of time pressure, continually subject to deadlines Work schedule Shift working, night shifts, inflexible work schedules, unpredictable hours, long or unsociable hours Control Low participation in decision making, lack of control over workload, pacing, etc. Environment & Equipment Inadequate equipment availability, suitability or maintenance; poor environmental conditions such as lack of space, poor lighting, excessive noise Organisational culture & function Poor communication, low levels of support for problem solving and personal development, lack of definition of, or agreement on, organisational objectives Interpersonal relationships Social or physical isolation, poor relationships with superiors, interpersonal conflict, lack of social support, bullying, harassment Role Role ambiguity, role conflict, and responsibility for people Career Development Career stagnation and uncertainty, under promotion or over promotion, poor pay, job insecurity, low social value to work Home/work interface Conflicting demands of work and home, low support at home, dual career problems

7 Psychosocial Risks: Is Risk Management strategic enough in Business and Policy Making* Conceptualisation and perception of risk Current perception of PSR Barriers to implementing PSR management Opportunities in managing PSR are being recognised * A 2012 University of Nottingham study (Leka, Langenhan, Jain) explored stakeholder perspectives, regarding the extent to which PSRs are incorporated in strategic risk management practices

8 Conceptualisation & Perception of Risk Risk is perceived as the likelihood that there will be a known loss or the hazard that there is a potential to cause harm Priorities for risk management revolve around financial survival, reputation, brand and compliance Most employers are only motivated to manage health and safety risk because of regulations Only 11% of 1000 surveyed directors claim to have a complete understanding of risks in their organisations Evaluation of risk management practices is widely neglected

9 Perception of Psychosocial Risk “If I was to mention Psychosocial Risk to one of the companies I work with, they would look at me very blank.”  PSR includes all factors that may negatively impact upon the individual by simply undertaking their job role  For most organisations, consideration of health and safety issues is just a default tick in the box  Only “informed (larger) businesses consider the potential negative implications of PSR  The business case for managing PSR is not really being heard because it may take some time to show benefits, and involves commitment for the long term

10 Barriers to implementing PSR Management  Resources – Time and Money  Low priority  Lack of understanding – what am I supposed to do?  Lack of available expertise and frameworks  Stigmatisation  Lack of inspection/enforcement  Reluctance to report problems “it’s almost about branding I suppose, and the way the term is branded. Health and Safety – no, well now, people – yes, right at the top”

11 Opportunities in managing PSR are being recognised  “People need to have training and need to communicate and maintain risk awareness even if things are looking on the bright side”  “There has to be a culture change in terms of what work is”  “HR absolutely needs to be looking at data and building the business case for investment in people management and training and development and highlighting the potential risks of not investing in people management”

12 Regulatory Landscape for PSR “There probably isn’t any stomach for additional Health & Safety regulations at the moment – at least in certain countries”  The EU has set guidelines that have been adopted by most members at some level  The main directive revolves around providing a safe work environment and recognizing PSR as a factor  Inspection and enforcement are complicated do to lack of definition and indicators  If an organisation has suffered a PSR event and does not have in place a PSR Management strategy the consequences can be dramatic

13 The 5 top reasons why many PSR Initiatives are ineffective  Number 5: Frameworks exist but are too general and lack rigorous implementation methodologies  Number 4: Lack of data points that allow for effective identification of risks and benchmarking current and future states  Number 3: Focus on the prevention of negative consequences rather than positive outcomes leading to loss of executive sponsorship and funding  Number 2: Lack of ownership. Risk Managers are focused on other risks and HR departments run PSR initiatives as a sideline.  Number 1: PSR Management is not integrated into existing Management Methods and therefore are mostly tactical rather than being strategic

14 Turning Risk into Opportunity In the 21st century there is a convergence of new ideas with traditional practices. Recent developments in Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology are putting hard research behind what have been until now “fuzzy” concepts to most “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor” Paul Simon

15 Benefits from focusing on the Opportunity instead of the Risk  Removing the stigma  Compelling Business Case  Clear actions to improve not only mitigate  Converting tactical, standalone initiatives to strategic Human Capital Management  Integration with strategic HR processes  Improved Engagement  Improved Effectiveness and Performance  Dramatic Reduction of Risk

16 Psychosocial Risk: The Flow Model  Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.  Dealing with complex decisions can test personal boundaries and push even the most stoic into Burnout (illustrated by my red lozenges).  Lack of challenge on the other hand leads to “Boreout” (yellow lozenges). People’s abilities are different and their willingness to push their own capabilities is variable. People in a prolonged state of ‘Boreout’ turn into inventors: cottage industries, hobby horse projects and sandboxes spring forth with impressive enterprise.  Controlled Burnout can be productive, uncontrolled Burnout is very destructive, any form of Boreout leads to the famed Anti Pattern – ‘the devil makes work for idle hands.’ Proposed by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, the Positive Psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields

17 The Flow Model and Employee Engagement  In Positive Psychology Flow = Engagement  The key to Engagement is correctly matching Abilities to Challenges  Engagement is enhanced by:  Removing Psychosocial Hazards  Identifying and promoting Abilities   Developing the required Technical, Management and Emotional Intelligence skills Martin Seligman the founder of Positive Psychology believes that a key ingredient to Well- being is Engagement

18 Linking the Flow Model to Management Science The Total Management Method (TMM) adapts a variety of related theories and concepts in regard to a match between challenges / problems and abilities / capabilities to propose the method to identify and quantify match / mismatch The Total Management Method® by TMS

19 Mapping Psychosocial Hazards to a Human Capital Management Approach PSYCHOSOCIAL HAZARDS (WHO 2010) mapped to the Total Management Method (TMM) Job Content TMM addresses Psychosocial Risks by: • Correctly matching the capability (Abilities) of an individual with the complexity (Challenges) of the role • Defining Managerial and Leadership accountabilities that promote the appropriate values and correctly allocate resources • Ensure that decisions are taken at the right level thus empowering Individuals, fostering innovation and providing a sense of control • Developing Competency models that include the required soft (Emotional Intelligence) skills to drive cultures and values • Aligning compensation with work complexity • Improving processes to reduce overload and distribute the workload • Establishing the proper boundaries for non-reporting (horizontal) relationships Workload & Pace Work schedule Control Environment & Equipment Organisational culture & function Interpersonal relationships Role Career Development Home/work interface

20 The PSR Management Framework  PSR Management Framework includes a set of critical practices that help to reduce Psychosocial risk at work  The most critical practice as a foundation of the framework is a structure based on the levels of work (problem complexity) with optimal number of organisational levels  An absence of one or several key organisational practices described or their low effectiveness increases a probability of Psychosocial risk

21 Identifying PSR in an Organisation: The PSR Audit Stage 1 • Select one department or section as a pilot and map all sources of psychosocial risk within it Stage 2 • Identify the organisational model for the section with the optimal number of levels of work and problem complexity by conducting extant interviews Stage 3 • Establish the inflow capability of the employees of the section using several types of the assessment for the inflow capability elements Stage 4 • Match the level of work complexity of the section’s roles with the inflow capability of the role holders Stage 5 • Map all psychosocial risks across the department or section • Audit the organisational practices of Psychosocial Risk Management Framework • Develop corrective actions

22 PSR Management reduces Operational Risk Ineffective Workplace Psychosocial Risk Management Practices Lead to PEOPLE with wrong knowledge and skills, wrong capabilities, wrong values and commitment and wrong required behaviours Leadto Lead to Leadto Ineffective decisions about EXTERNAL FACTORS in an area of accountability Ineffective decisions about PROCESSES in an area of accountability Ineffective decisions about SYSTEMS in an area of accountability OPRISK OPRISK OPRISK An Employee with Psychosocial Stress Lead to

23 Advantages of an integrated PSR Management Framework  Clear understanding of what psychosocial risk and its types are  Objective and quantitative tools to map all types of psychosocial risk across the organisation  Allocation of potential monetary loss to the sources of psychosocial risk  Psychosocial Risk Management as a set of practices and values to ensure sustainable and ongoing prevention and reduction of psychosocial risk  Training modules (Training Centre) to train employees accountable for psychosocial risk  TMS’s expertise to adapt and embed Psychosocial Risk Management Framework into organisational practices and values  Psychosocial Analytics that includes a set of comprehensive indicators to monitor all aspects psychosocial risk  Early Warning System mechanisms

24 For more Information go to or send Questions and/or Comments to:

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