Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program

APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (PHWP) is a public education initiative designed 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. The PHWP includes APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards, support of local programs currently implemented by 56 state, provincial and territorial psychological associations, and a variety of resources for employers and the psychologists who work with them.

The Psychologically Healthy Workplace (PHW) Model integrates the two dominant approaches to organizational health (the organizational effectiveness approach and the employee benefits approach) in a way that optimizes outcomes for both employees and organizations.

In practice, the PHW model leverages psychology's expertise in human behavior to create significant and sustainable changes at both the employee and organizational level. It combines the knowledge bases of industrial-organizational, consulting, clinical, counseling and health psychology with those of other disciplines, such as public health, management, economics, health promotion, human resources and occupational health.

The PHW model includes a multi-level approach, utilizing primary, secondary and tertiary level interventions to address problems, reduce risks, prevent problems from developing in the first place and optimize functioning. In terms of process, the PHW approach relies on an action research model, which includes needs assessment, customized program design and implementation and ongoing evaluation.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the PHW model is its complex systems approach. Many organizations implement health and wellness initiatives, but fail to consider that these initiatives don't exist in a vacuum. Every program or policy interacts with the organization's other programs and policies, as well as with internal and external contextual factors. The PHW approach requires custom-tailoring of programs and policies to address these variables and meet the unique needs of an organization and its workforce.

By taking a socioecological approach, individual lifestyle and behavior change efforts get better results, because they are supported by the larger system and the larger systemic changes are more effective, because the are consistent with, and driven by, individual behaviors.

The PHWP provides connections between the business and psychology communities at local and national levels, enabling them to work together to address issues of mutual interest and pursue common causes. Working together, each group also benefits from the other's expertise. All of the major issues facing employers (e.g., skyrocketing healthcare costs, global competition, turnover, energy consumption, building a competitive advantage through human capital) have one thing in common — they are related to human behavior, psychology's area of expertise.

By working with psychologists, employers are able to enhance the functioning of individuals, groups, organizations and communities. 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 in today's competitive marketplace, as well as reach those who could benefit from services in the place where the spend most of their time — the workplace. 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.

For more information visit the APA Center for Organizational Excellence.