From the heavy emotional labour of nurses caring for patients, to the people skills required as a sales assistant - every job involves some kind of psychological job demands. Yet the results of our recent 'Psychosocial Priorities Survey' reveal that equipping staff to handle Psychological Job Demands are not priority for more than half of organisations, and employers are failing appropriately equip employees to meet these.
What do we mean when we talk about psychological job demands?
Psychological job demand refers to the necessary social, cognitive, and emotional skills required to for a given role. Psychological job demands can be contrasted with more traditional technical or professional job requirements. For example, an electrician working in a fly-in fly-out role may have excellent technical competency in safely installing electrical equipment, but will still experience psychological job demands through working in isolated conditions, living in communal environments, handling the stress of travel, rotating shift work, and dealing with separation from family and friends while on-site.
Psychological job demands can impact good person-job ‘fit’, and if not considered or controlled effectively can compromise employees' health and well-being.These demands may have serious effects including emotional exhaustion, stress, extended sick leave, job-burn-out, and can dramatically effect physical and psychological health for decades.
Organisations not prioritising or addressing job demands
In August 2016, CommuniCorp Group rolled out our ‘Psychosocial Priorities Survey’. Our aim was to capture an industry-wide 'snapshot' of psychological health priorities. In all, representatives from some 51 organisations across more than a dozen industries within Australia and New Zealand took the survey, totalling a workforce of over 155,300 employees. Almost two months later, CommuniCorp can now present some preliminary results.
For many organisations, Psychosocial Job Demands are not on the agenda in the first place.
Results indicated that for more than half of respondents, managing the psychological Job demands on employees was either not at all a priority, or a very low priority.
Q1. “To what extent is ensuring staff are recruited and equipped to manage the Psychological Demands of their role a priority for your organisation?”
In recruitment and reporting, Psychological Job Demands do not appear to be assessed.
Approximately 42% of participants reported no assessment of psychological job demands of roles for inclusion in Job/Position descriptions, and little to no consideration of these during the selection process. Many of the remaining organisations assessed demands in an ad hoc fashion, with no organisation reporting a thorough, systematic assessment of demands across the business.
Similarly, organisations do not appear to be providing training to help employees meet the psychological demands of their roles.
Around 66% of participants noted little to no training, development, or upskilling of employees' ability to manage Psychological Job Demands is provided within their organisations. Where some training is provided, it appears to be often one-off, with few/no clear training objectives outlined or met.
What can organisations do?
Failing to control or assess the psychological job demands of roles can result in absenteeism, presenteeism, staff with psychological health issues and early turnover. Organisations can start by establishing what the psychological job demands are through comprehensive assessment across roles.
Organisations can also take steps to proactively manage the psychological job demands by and eliminating or putting in place interventions to minimise them where possible. These include:
- Selecting staff well-suited to the role requirements
- Induction programs to prepare staff
- Supervision/mentoring for staff to assist them in developing capabilities
- Training in resilience, time management, or other relevant capabilities
- Designing detailed job descriptions outlining these demands when assessing performance of staff or promoting
- Consideration of opportunities for alternate internal positions in cases of poor job fit
Contact the Experts
As experienced organisational psychologists, we at CommuniCorp recognise the importance of appropriately managing psychological job demands. Our consulting services can help guide your organisation in assessing and intervening through practical programs and initiatives to handle these. Through close consultation, guidance, and organisation-specific review utilising international best practice frameworks and strategy, CommuniCorp can help you better manage the demands upon your staff.