What are Psychosocial Factors?

Psychosocial factors are elements that impact employees’ psychological responses to work and work conditions, potentially causing psychological health problems. Psychosocial factors include the way work is carried out (deadlines, workload, work methods) and the context in which work occurs (including relationships and interactions with managers and supervisors, colleagues and co-workers, and clients or customers).

What is Psychological Support?

Psychological Support is present in a work environment where co-workers and supervisors are supportive of employees’ psychological and mental health concerns and respond appropriately as needed. Equally important are the employees’ perceptions and awareness of organizational support. When employees perceive organizational support, it means they believe their organization values their contributions, is committed to ensuring their psychological well-being and provides meaningful supports if this well-being is compromised.

Why is Psychological Support important?

The more employees feel they have psychological support the greater their job attachment, job commitment, job satisfaction, job involvement, work mood positivity, desire to remain with the organization, organizational citizenship behaviours (discretionary behaviours that are beneficial to the organization and are a matter of personal choice) and job performance. For some organizations the most important aspect of psychological support may be that it is especially helpful in protecting against traumatic stressors at work. When adequate psychological support is present employees experiencing psychological distress in the workplace will be more likely to seek and receive appropriate help. They will be better equipped to stay safe and productive at work while they recover, and, if work absence is required, will be more likely to have a quicker and more sustainable work return.

What happens when employees lack psychological support?

Employee perceptions of a lack of psychological support from their organization can lead to increases in absenteeism, withdrawal behaviours, strain, conflict and turnover. Strain can then lead to greater issues such as fatigue, headaches, burnout and anxiety. Lack of psychological support can also result in loss of productivity, increased costs and greater risk of accidents, incidents and injuries.

How can Psychological Support be improved?

Start by conducting the Organizational Review and examining the results. If Psychological Support is identified as an area of concern look for evidence-based practical strategies that can improve Psychological Support. It is also important to discuss the findings with employees to gain a further understanding of the results and to obtain input into possible interventions. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the undertaken interventions over time to ensure they are effective and to take corrective action where needed.