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Company CultureMarch 11, 2021

Psychosocial work environment - how to improve the work climate at your company

Engagement at work

What is a psychosocial work environment, and how can HR managers and people leaders work to improve it? In this article, we take a closer look at how you can measure and improve the psychosocial working climate in your organization.

Table of contents

  1. What is a psychosocial work environment?

  2. Who is responsible for the psychosocial work environment?

  3. Challenges in working with psychosocial factors at work.

  4. How to measure the psychosocial work environment?

  5. Factors that affect the psychosocial work climate

  6. Tools for improving the psychosocial work environment

What is a psychosocial working environment?

Let's start by defining what a psychosocial work environment is. The psychosocial work environment includes, among other things, how work is organized and how employees behave towards each other in the workplace.

The psychosocial work environment includes many things. Whether or not we feel comfortable and safe around our colleagues, how meaningful we experience our work tasks, and what opportunities we have for personal development. A poor psychosocial work environment that is not remedied can have serious consequences, such as stress, mental illness, and suffering for employees. But also in the form of diminishing profitability, increased staff turnover, and sometimes even legal ramifications.

Who is responsible for the psychosocial work environment?

Managers and team leaders play a significant role in shaping the organizational, social and psychosocial work environment. They affect the work requirements, working hours, workload and have a general work environment responsibility.

Managers, however, can not create a good psychosocial work environment entirely on their own. To build a constructive and positive company culture where people feel safe and happy, you need reliable information about how employees experience their work environment. Improving the psychosocial working environment is a job that neither HR nor managers can perform in isolation. To build a great workplace and a culture where people thrive and perform at their best, all employees need to be engaged and collaborate.

💡 Eletive's employee engagement surveys are built on the premise that each individual has a responsibility to help create a good work climate. Not only managers, but each employee receives their own individual report and has access to an individual dashboard to follow their progress. Each employee also receives advice, based on OBM (Organizational Behavioral Management), on how to act in different scenarios to improve their employee experience.

Challenges in working with psychosocial issues at work

Many managers find it challenging to address psychosocial work environment problems. They can often involve complex and sensitive issues, and it is not always easy to start a dialogue with those involved. Stress, bullying, health issues, and abusive discrimination are examples of problems that can arise in a workplace, which must be taken very seriously. When managers and employees are given support and the proper tools to address these issues, everybody wins. 

💡 Regular employee surveys are an effective way to take the organization's pulse and quickly detect any potential problems and risk areas. With intelligent employee surveys, management and HR get valuable insights in real-time about the state of the working environment, what works well, and what needs attention. The data collected through the employee engagement surveys are automatically compiled in intuitive diagrams that can be exported into ppt presentations with just a few clicks. These numbers then serve as a natural basis for discussion. Many managers find that having access to this data greatly facilitates difficult conversations.

How to measure the psychosocial work environment?

Staff meetings and 1:1 meetings are essential for discussing issues related to the psychosocial work environment. To ensure everyone in the organization gets the chance to talk to their manager regularly, it's a good idea to create templates and common processes for one-on-one meetings.

💡 With Eletive, you get the tools for collecting staff meetings (1: 1s), action plans, and OKR's or SMART goals, all conveniently gathered in the same platform as the employee surveys. This makes information easily accessible and ensures no data disappears when, for example, a manager changes jobs.

Supportive colleagues and friendships in the workplace have a positive effect on the psychosocial work environment.

Factors that affect the psychosocial work environment

Several factors affect the psychosocial work environment. It is also important to remember that all people are different and that similar conditions can be experienced differently. Let's take a closer look at some areas that have a significant impact on the work climate:

  • Social support and friendly relations

  • Leadership and clear roles

  • Organization and stability

  • Communication and psychological security

They all have in common that it is often a challenge to measure them and identify which areas work better and which ones need attention.

Social support and friendly relations

Friendly relationships with colleagues and appreciation are factors that positively affect the psychosocial work environment. The absence of close relationships, and a lack of appreciation and validation, on the other hand, has a very negative effect on motivation and commitment.

💡 With Eletive, it is easy to continuously monitor how employees experience their social situation at work - in real-time. Managers are immediately notified someone is not treated well, enabling them to take quick and proactive measures.

Leadership and clear roles

Clarity when it comes to roles, tasks, and expectations is an important factor that reduces stress and creates a sense of security in the workplace. The opposite – an unclear division of responsibilities and lack of ownership – creates uncertainty and stress.

💡 Pulse surveys give the managers in an organization clear indications of what can be improved and a basis for taking action together with their teams. With Eletive, the focus is also on promoting self-leadership and encouraging each individual to take responsibility for their situation.

Organizational stability and predictability

Reorganizations, cuts, redundancies, and other adjustments are examples of changes that can lead to increased stress and a higher workload, which in the short term often has a negative effect on the work environment. It is natural that changes create a certain amount of stress, but if the change is managed well, the stress should only be temporary.

💡 With the help of digital employee surveys, it is easy to follow up on the employee experiences during times of change and provide extra support where needed. It is natural that some anxiety arises when changes are happening. Eletive makes it easy to monitor how things proceed and ensure that the situation is stabilized.

Communication and psychological security

Clear and open communication creates a work environment where employees feel safe enough to raise difficult questions.

Anonymous employee surveys give all employees a secure channel to communicate through, both about what works well and things that do not work. It encourages employees to flag misconduct and other problems, so that management can focus on preventing and managing issues in a proactive way.

💡 In the Eletive platform, there is an anonymous chat where employees can get quick feedback from their boss without revealing their identity themselves. It is invaluable in situations where, for example, bullying or abusive discrimination is reported. The whistleblower functionality provides everyone with a channel for reporting any misconduct, unethical behavior, or breaches of the law. 

A tool for improving the psychosocial work environment

Eletive is a people success platform that helps organizations improve the psychosocial work environment by promoting employee engagement, performance, and self-leadership. Get in touch to learn more!

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