Is Your Culture Your Major Psychosocial Risk?

Is Your Organizational Culture Your Biggest Psychosocial Risk?

Workplace culture can have a significant impact on employees’ psychological well-being. Psychosocial risks, such as stress, burnout, and anxiety, can arise from organizational behaviours that are accepted or even encouraged. In this article, we will explore the link between organizational culture and psychosocial risks and provide suggestions for addressing these risks.

What Are Psychosocial Risks?

Psychosocial risks refer to the combination of social and psychological factors that can impact an employee’s mental health and well-being. These risks can manifest in many different ways, such as work-related stress, bullying, or harassment, and can have a negative impact on employees’ health, motivation, and performance.

What is Organizational Culture?

Organizational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and behaviours that characterize a workplace. It shapes employees’ experiences and influences their behaviour, including how they communicate, collaborate, and make decisions.

Linking Organizational Culture to Psychosocial Risks

Certain aspects of organizational culture can contribute to psychosocial risks. For example, a culture of overwork can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and a host of stress-related illnesses. Additionally, a lack of psychological safety can lead to anxiety and depression among employees. Finally, a culture that tolerates bullying or harassment can create a hostile work environment that negatively affects employees’ mental health and ability to perform at their best and stay civil towards each other.

Evidence of the Link Between Organizational Culture and Psychosocial Risks

Research has shown that there is a strong link between organizational culture and psychosocial risks. For example, a study by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work found that work-related stress is the second most common work-related health problem in Europe. The study identified organizational factors such as workload, lack of support, and poor communication as key contributors to work-related stress.

Addressing Psychosocial Risks Through Changes to Organizational Culture

To address psychosocial risks in the workplace, organizations need to make changes to their culture. Some suggestions for addressing these risks include:

  • Promoting work-life balance: Organizations can encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, compressed workweeks, or reduced hours.

  • Setting clear guidelines around how and when employees communicate with each other, ensuring that all communication sits within clear working hours and discourage all out of hours communication as is done in several European countries that now make it illegal to contact workers outside their working hours.
  • Create psychologically safe workspaces through education and practice, starting with all senior leaders modelling what it takes to hold a psychologically safe space around them.

  • Fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity: Organizations can create a culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. This includes implementing policies and practices that promote respect, such as anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies, and providing training on unconscious bias and cultural sensitivity.

To Summarise

In conclusion, organizational culture plays a significant role in determining employees’ psychological well-being. Certain aspects of organizational culture can contribute to psychosocial risks, but organizations can take steps to address these risks by creating a culture that promotes work-life balance, supports mental health and well-being, and fosters respect and inclusivity. By doing so, organizations can create a healthier and more supportive workplace environment that benefits both employees and the organization as a whole.

Are you aware of what your psychosocial risk factors are within your organisation?