Psychosocial risks in companies: what they are and how to fight them

It is common to think that psychological well-being is something that is addressed exclusively in clinical contexts, such as in health centers or in the consultation of a psychologist, during psychotherapy sessions.

However, if these areas of intervention are very important for psychologists, their work goes far beyond this type of specific situation.

One of the most relevant axes of psychological counseling is found, for example, in companies, the world of organization. And in this context, there is no shortage of work: it is now estimated that around 30% of layoffs are rooted in psychosocial risks, Such as stress, fear of communication problems, fatigue, bad mood, etc.

In these lines, we will see how we work in psychology to reduce psychosocial risks in companies.

    What are the psychosocial risks?

    In the organizational context, psychosocial risks are those patterns of interaction between the individual and his environment that increase the chances of deteriorating psychological well-being of people and in the quality and quantity of their work. Psychological health and performance go hand in hand, which is why companies that take measures to prevent psychosocial risks enjoy several advantages, as we will see.

    Thus, the very term “psychosocial risks” indicates to us the nature of this concept: they are realities based on interaction, and are not found only in the workspace or in each of the workers individually.

    In other words, psychosocial risks exist in the movement and in the interaction between everything that constitutes it (including its workers), the dynamism with which companies struggle to achieve and adapt to their goals. posed by the environment.

    As a psychologist specializing in anxiety and stress issues and cognitive behavioral psychology, I have seen that a misunderstood need for dynamism on the part of business leaders can be totally counterproductive, exploding psychosocial risks, physical and mental health of workers. Being dynamic doesn’t mean constantly pushing the accelerator, but adapting to new times and new opportunities means having time to train, rest, and work on the issues you have.

      Why do these harmful psychosocial phenomena appear?

      Psychosocial risks for the mental and physical health of a company’s employees can degenerate into relatively varied problems and disorders: sleep disorders, poor management of anger and irritability, psychosomatic disorders, panic attacks, attrition syndrome professional. .. However, there is one psychological phenomenon to highlight, and at the same time it is usually present in all the others: sustained, excessive stress.

      This type of “pathological” stress is what can lead a worker to start his descent. towards a significant deterioration in their health. Being very stressed means not feeling safe when deciding what to do, leading to delays in production. It also often causes insomnia, with the resulting discomfort coupled with difficulty concentrating on a task.

      The fear of facing the problems that stress has in turn contributed to generates another additional problem, procrastination or the tendency to constantly postpone our responsibilities in order to keep them out of our mind.

      And last but not least, we must add that when working in interaction with others, we can also experience the fear of communicating bad news, the guilt of feeling responsible for a decline in overall performance, and even the ‘irritability with those who arrive to assign new tasks.

      And all this, we must remember, it can occur in many workers in an organization at once. In the same way that in companies there are a lot of people generating synergies and producing added value thanks to the fact of working in a certain system of coordination between professionals, if this same system of functioning of the business has certain problems, it can be by promoting the wear and tear of the health of almost all its members.

      What to do?

      Having seen above what the magnitude of psychosocial risks can be, it is not surprising to know that companies that prevent them and know how to stop them in their first manifestations of their symptoms are much more competitive and flexible than those that do not. do not. In addition, it is estimated that companies that maintain this type of psychological self-management are 55% more creative; certainly, in environments where anxiety and pressure are constant, no one wants to risk derailing.

      Now … what can companies, in particular, do to prevent unrest and ensure the general well-being of workers?

      The first step is allow a “change of chip” in the direction of the company, One in which the unbridled and evaluable production in the very short term ceases to exist as the sole objective, an obsolete business model which is gradually disappearing in high-performance organizations generating great added value. The need to empathetically connect with workers and to lead without being limited to giving orders needs to be brought to the table, in order to prevent problems from piling up under the rug because of this one-directionality.

      By working with organizations and companies, I apply the principles of cognitive-behavioral psychology centered on an ecological model developed by the Albor-COHS group, from which three elements are taken into account: the context, skills and resources available to each, and the perception of environmental requirements (In this case, the company). Only on the basis of this holistic view of the problem is it possible to meet the needs of the people and the company in which they work.

      In short, everything begins with a diagnosis of the situation which does not focus only on the person or the organization, but on the whole that makes up the latter, a unit in motion. More than a photograph of something static, a follow-up of the company as a living entity.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Rogelberg, SG (2002). Manual of research methods in industrial and organizational psychology. Malden: Blackwell.
      • and Brake, J .; Bouman, A .; Gorter, R .; Hoogstraten, J .; Eijkman, M. (2008). Using the Maslach Burnout Inventory in Dentists: Measuring and Trends in Burnout. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 36 (1): 69-75.

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