Highly stressed workers significantly increase companies' health-care costs. In fact, according to a 1998 study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Vol. 40, No. 10), health-care expenditures are nearly 50 percent greater for workers who report high levels of stress.
And perhaps never before were workers more stressed in the last decade than after Sept. 11.
Increasingly, corporate America is recognizing the importance of psychological well-being and companies across the nation made support and resilience-building a priority for employees after the terrorist attacks.
For this support, and for their ongoing commitment to workplace health, APA recognized five American companies at this year's Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) conference in September: Bank One Corp., The Dow Chemical Co., Ford Motor Co. with the United Auto Workers, Intel Corp. and Pitney Bowes.
"These companies serve as an inspiration and provide a model for their efforts to maintain a psychologically healthy workplace under extremely difficult circumstances," says Russ Newman, PhD, JD, APA's executive director for practice.
All of the award-winning companies are members of IHPM, a nonprofit organization created in 1997 to explore the connection between employee health and corporate success. IHPM encourages health promotion and health-care delivery models that improve the bottom line of labor costs and not just health-care costs.
"These companies recognize that good health care is good business," Sean Sullivan, president of IHPM, adds. "A healthy, resilient work force lies at the heart of productive and stable business performance."
The companies' strategies to enhance employee resilience after Sept. 11 included:
Continuous communications from company leadership.
Information about free mental health resources available to employees.
On-site crisis intervention counseling, through Employee Assistance Programs, immediately following the attacks.
Intranet Web site support for employees on topics such as grief and how to discuss the terrorist attacks with children.
The recognition for these companies grew out of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award (PHWA) program, sponsored by state psychological associations and supported by APA. PHWA gives awards at the state level to businesses and organizations that foster a healthy work environment by providing support for employees and families, encouraging employee growth and involvement, and fostering health and safety in the workplace.
Since the program's inception, 27 state psychological associations have given awards.
--J. DAW HOLLOWAY