OCCUPATIONAL PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH AND SAFETY – AN IMPERATIVE FOR EFFICIENT EMPLOYMENT OF HUMAN CAPITAL by Dr Jacques van Zyl
The field of occupational health and safety is a complex and multi-disciplinary area that focuses on the well-being of employees in the workplace. A key aspect of this field is the understanding and management of psychological health and safety, which refers to the promotion of positive mental health and the prevention of psychological harm in the workplace. Psychological health and safety has become increasingly important as research has shown that poor mental health can have significant impacts on employee well-being, productivity, and organizational performance, i.e. inefficient employment of human capital.
Definition of occupational psychological health and safety
Occupational psychological health and safety refers to the emotional and mental well-being of employees in the workplace. It encompasses a wide range of issues, including workplace stress, bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
Causes of poor occupational psychological health and safety
There are several factors that contribute to poor occupational psychological health and safety, including job demands, job control, and support from team members and managers. For example, job demands such as high workload, time pressure, and role ambiguity can lead to stress and burnout. Conversely, high job control and supportive team members and managers can promote psychological well-being in the workplace.
The importance of occupational psychological health and safety
it is widely recognized that psychological health and safety are key determinants of overall occupational well-being. Human capital costs are mostly the highest of the cost elements organizations incur in producing a product and/or service. High levels of psychological health and safety correlate positively with high returns on human capital costs and investments.
Consequences of poor occupational psychological health and safety
The consequences of poor occupational psychological health and safety can be severe, both for the individual and the organization. For individuals, it can lead to burnout, depression, anxiety, and decreased job satisfaction. For organizations, it can result in high turnover, absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased costs associated with turnover and recruitment. In addition, psychological health and safety can lead to poor mental health can also result in increased health care costs, decreased morale and increased burnout among employees.
It is therefore important for organizations to prioritize the promotion of positive mental health and the prevention of psychological harm in the workplace.
Strategies for promoting psychological health and safety; best practices and interventions
To promote occupational psychological health and safety, organizations should implement a variety of best practices and interventions. Some examples include:
· Promoting a positive organizational culture: A positive organizational culture can play a significant role in promoting positive psychological health and safety, as well as mental health and well-being among employees. This can be achieved by promoting open communication, valuing and recognizing employees, and creating a supportive work environment
· Providing support and resources for employees: Organizations can also provide support and resources for employees to help promote psychological health and safety and mental health and well-being. This can include offering access to employee assistance programs, counselling services, and training programs on stress management and resilience
· Developing and implementing policies and practices that promote psychological health and safety, as well as mental health and well-being, such as flexible work arrangements, health and wellness programs, and ergonomic work environments
· Developing and implementing policies and procedures to address psychological health and safety risks, such as, workplace bullying, discrimination and harassment
· Encouraging employee participation in organizational decision-making
· Providing opportunities for skills development and career advancement
· Promoting a healthy work-life balance through flexible work arrangements
In conclusion, psychological health and safety is an important aspect of occupational health and safety that must be given consideration by organizations. By promoting positive mental health and preventing psychological harm in the workplace, organizations can benefit from increased productivity, improved organizational performance, and decreased costs associated with poor mental health, i.e. increased return on human capital employment.
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