The Arkansas Psychological Association’s Psychologically Health Workplace Award (PHWA) program recognizes employers for creating workplaces that foster employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance. Two Arkansas organizations received a Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award from the Arkansas Psychological Association (ArPA). Award recipients included:

Optus, Inc. (For profit category) phwa-profit

Women & Children First (Not for profit category)phwa-nonprofit

The awards were presented on October 19, 2016 at “The Future of Work” seminar sponsored by the Arkansas Psychological Association (ArPA). The event was followed by a reception in honor of Optus, Inc. and Women & Children First. Attendees included human resource management professionals, business leaders, psychologists, and students.

“In this time of high job stress and increasing demands on employees, these exemplary workplaces have made it a priority to create environments that are sensitive to the health and well-being of their workers,” says Joyce Fowler, Ph.D. “By recognizing these organizations for their efforts, we hope others will take notice and implement similar programs in their workplaces.”

The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award (PHWA) was created to recognize organizations that understand the link between employee health and well-being and organizational performance and have implemented a variety of workplace practices in an active effort to create a positive work environment. Since its inception by APA in the late 1990s, the PHWA has evolved with participation from state, provincial and territorial psychological associations (STPA). A network (Psychology in the Workplace Network) of STPA representatives actively participate in this public education initiative to engage the employer community, raise public awareness about the value psychology brings to the workplace and promote programs and policies that enhance employee well-being and organizational performance.

Each applicant was judged on criteria including: employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, work-life balance and employee recognition. Each organization demonstrated workplace practices that addressed the employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, work-life balance and employee recognition through written applications, employee surveys, and on-site interviews with their employees.

In addition to assessing each company on the above criteria, special focus was given to an exemplary best practice. Optus, Inc., a telecommunications service and manufacturing company, highlighted to their employees the importance of both physical and psychological health by shifting from a narrower focus on physical wellness to more encompassing view of well-being. They conducted surveys of employees for input and provided incentives for employees to develop a “well-being plan”. Women & Children First, a non-profit organization serving women and children suffering from domestic violence, emphasized the implementation of the empowerment model. The transformation of their culture and organizational functioning has been a work in progress for the last three years. Improvement in the well-being of their employees was evident, which has been particularly crucial in minimizing burnout/compassion fatigue. The added benefit is providing their clients with healthy role models, systemically and personally, by empowering each person to take an active role in their own well-being.

According to a 2012 released national survey by the American Psychological Association, many Americans report chronic work stress, with two out of five (41 percent) employees reporting that they typically feel tense or stressed out during the workday. Meanwhile, employees who feel valued are more likely to report better physical and mental health, as well as higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and motivation, compared to those who do not feel valued by their employers. It was evident that the employees of Optus, Inc. and Women & Children First felt valued and are reaping the benefits their employer’s efforts to promote a psychologically healthy workplace.

Optus, Inc. and Women & Children First have both been nominated for the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2017 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in their respective categories. Nominees for APA’s Psychologically Health Workplace Awards are selected from the pool of previous winners from participating state, provincial and territorial psychological associations (STPA). Several past ArPA PHWA recipients have also received the APA PHWA. We hope Optus, Inc. and Women & Children will be among those.