State Leadership Conference

In today's business world, it's not access to financial resources that gives companies a competitive edge over their rivals-it's the "human capital" of talent and creativity of their people, said Geoffrey Colvin, senior editor at large for Fortune magazine, at the 2007 State Leadership Conference (SLC). A recent example, he noted, is the success of YouTube, a company that thrived-selling for $1.35 billion to Google last fall-a value created when a handful of entrepreneurs implemented a brilliant idea. "Financial capital is no longer the scarce resource in business," said Colvin. "Human capital is the key to winning."

A former co-host of "Wall Street Week" and commentator on business trends, Colvin served as keynote speaker at the presentation of APA's 2007 National Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards (PHWA) and Best Practices Honors, held during SLC. Now in its second year, the national PHWA award program recognizes organizations based on an evaluation of their practices that foster employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance. The Best Practices Honors recognize a single program or policy that stands out for promoting a psychologically healthy work environment.

"The link between employee health and well-being and organizational performance is clear," said Russ Newman, PhD, JD, APA's executive director for professional practice. "Employers who embrace that connection are better able to develop a high-performing work force that serves as a competitive advantage in the marketplace." The six national winners are:

  • Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Las Vegas.

  • Healthwise, Boise, Idaho.

  • Koinonia Homes, Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio.

  • YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities Network, New York City.

  • Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Waterbury, Vt.

  • El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico.

Combined, the six national winners report an average employee turnover rate of 14 percent, far below the national average of 40 percent, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, surveys conducted by the winners show that an average of only 19 percent of their employees report high levels of stress, compared with 33 percent nationwide, as measured by a 2005 APA national survey.

For more information on the winners, check out the March Monitor issue.

In addition to the national PHWA winners, APA recognized 10 organizations with the Best Practices Honors (see box). These honors spotlight organizations that have adopted a particularly innovative program or policy contributing to a psychologically healthy work environment, based on the unique needs of an organization's employees.

With support from the Practice Directorate, 48 state, provincial and territorial psychological associations now have local award programs, Newman said.

While there's been a great deal of research on how employers can improve employee well-being and boost productivity by instituting specific, individual practices implementing those goals, APA hopes to examine how employees and organizations could benefit by combining those elements in a comprehensive program, noted Newman.

"We hope that what we'll find as we collect this data is that the whole is really greater than the sum of the parts," he said.

The award ceremony drew an audience of about 700 people, including more than 60 representatives from the award-winning organizations. Top leaders accepted the honors to applause from the audience. Healthwise CEO Donald W. Kemper drew laughter when he quipped, "I'd like to thank the Academy."

Short videos introduced each winning organization, most featuring employees talking about why they enjoy their jobs and the efforts to make their working lives a psychologically healthy experience.

Joel Levy, CEO, and brother Philip Levy, chief operating officer and president of YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities Network, talked about how the experience of growing up in a "poor but proud" family influenced their decision to create an organization where employees felt valued.

Accepting the award, Philip Levy said he and his brother were spurred by the struggles of their father, a manual laborer who worked hard but came home feeling "mistreated, devalued and frustrated" by his bosses.

"For us, this is very personal. At YAI, we care about creating a sense of family; we care about creating a world of hope not only for the people we serve, but for all of the people who serve them," Levy said.

And for her part, Koinonia Homes CEO Diane Beastrom said winning the award has reinvigorated her company's commitment to a healthy work environment.

"It validates all the work we've done so far, but more importantly, it has really inspired us to continue to look for ways to create healthy, fulfilling, enriched lives for all employees," she said.

Further Reading

For more on the 2007 healthy workplace winners, see the March Monitor, pages 28-31, or go to www.phwa.org.

2007 Best Practices Honorees

El Neuvo Día, Puerto Rico

Good Samaritan Hospital of Maryland, Baltimore

Community School, Roanoke, Va.

DuBois Regional Medical Center, Pennsylvania

Houston Texans NFL franchise, Houston

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Las Vegas

Next Level Café, Burnsville, Minn.

OMNI Youth Services, Buffalo Grove, Ill.

Stratix Corporation, Norcross, Ga.

Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, Hawaii