Perspective on Practice

APA recognized eight organizations at its sixth annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards in Washington, D.C. on March 12 (see our full report). These awards are part of a collaborative effort between APA and the APA Practice Organization to connect psychology with the employer community and help organizations promote employee well-being and organizational performance.

The health promotion industry has long known that adults spend most of their waking lives on the job, so the workplace is a natural venue to address health behaviors and well-being. Psychologists work with organizations in a variety of capacities and one of the strengths of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (PHWP) is its integration of industrial-organizational, clinical, counseling and health psychology. By linking our diverse professional activities with the work of human resources, management, health promotion and wellness, public health and related areas, the PHWP offers a model of collaboration in which we can take our knowledge, skills and experience in human behavior and apply them to the challenges that businesses and employees face today.

By working with psychologists, employers are able to enhance the functioning of individuals, groups and organizations. Similarly, working with the business community helps psychologists develop a “business lens” that they can use to more effectively design and deliver services that meet emerging needs. This collaboration between psychology and the employer community truly represents a win-win-win scenario, driving positive change and helping employees, organizations and psychologists perform at their best.

The PHWP consists of APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards, support of local programs currently implemented by 56 state, provincial and territorial psychological associations and a variety of APA Practice Organization resources, including a website (www.phwa.org), newsletter, blog, podcast and programming for employers and the psychologists who work with them. The program has seen tremendous growth since its launch in 1999, and more than 450 organizations, large and small, for profit and not-for-profit, have been recognized across North America.

At the local level, the PHWP is carried out by a grassroots network of psychologists. The Psychology in the Workplace Network comprises more than 50 representatives from state, provincial and territorial psychological associations and some APA divisions. The network works to strategically position psychology in a leadership role within the marketplace by developing strong collaborative relationships with the business and employer community and educating them about the roles and value of psychology in the workplace. The network’s representatives lead the local award programs in their respective jurisdictions and contribute to APA’s PHWP efforts.

In addition to our local- and national-level award programs and the resources provided through the PHWP, APA also works to build collaborative relationships with employer groups and other stakeholders. In recent years, we have forged relationships with the Health Enhancement Research Organization, American Journal of Health Promotion, National Business Group on Health and others who share a common interest in work force health and performance. Beyond our work with these groups, we maintain a highly visible presence in the employer community through regular presentations for major employers, consulting firms, government agencies, employee-assistance program associations and other professional organizations.

Through these efforts, APA has created a mechanism for psychology to demonstrate the value we bring to the marketplace and the various ways we can apply our expertise in human behavior to create significant and sustainable changes at both the employee and organizational levels.

As always, I welcome your comments. For more information on the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program and how to get involved, contact David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, assistant executive director for marketing and business development at APA.