From the CEO

New data from an APA survey on the nation's employees uncovered an important finding: Americans report staying with their current employers because they enjoy the work and the work-life fit. Although 60 percent of workers said they are staying at their jobs because of benefits and 59 percent report staying for the pay, 67 percent said they choose to stay because their jobs fit well with the other aspects of their lives. The same percentage said they are staying at their jobs because they enjoy the work they do. In addition, our survey found that even in a time of relatively high unemployment, only 39 percent of respondents cited lack of other job opportunities as a reason for staying with their current employers. Full study results are available online

These findings suggest that today's American workers aren't just looking for monetary gain — they want balance and meaning in their work lives. And that means employers who want to remain competitive can no longer rely only on financial incentives for their workers. Employers must also create positive environments that foster connectivity, community and work-life balance.

That's where psychology and APA come in. Armed with decades of psychological research and seeking to build on the success of a New Jersey Psychological Association initiative, in 1999 the APA Practice Directorate created its Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (PHWP) to educate employers about the value of psychology. The program defines a healthy workplace as one that promotes both employee well-being and organizational performance. Run by David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, the PHWP supports local programs in 56 state, provincial and territorial psychological associations and offers a variety of resources for employees and employers alike. In addition, the program's well-known awards recognize workplaces that foster employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance.

The PHWP combines the knowledge of industrial-organizational, consulting, clinical, counseling and health psychology with that of other disciplines, such as public health, management, human resources and occupational health. It emphasizes the importance of a systems approach that includes employee involvement, health and safety practices, opportunities for employee growth and development, flexible work arrangements and employee recognition.

In January, the PHWP will be broadening its scope and moving to a new program centrally located in APA. The new Center for Organizational Excellence will serve in a dual internal/external role to promote employee well-being and enhance organizational performance. The center will support APA's strategic plan by promoting organizational effectiveness, and by leveraging psychology's expertise in human behavior to promote health and wellness, and increasing public awareness of the benefits psychology brings to the setting where adults spend a majority of their waking hours — the workplace.

Externally, the center will house the PHWP and build on its efforts to engage key stakeholders in the business community, demonstrate the value of psychology and position APA as an expert resource for employers and the psychologists who work with them. Internally, the center will bridge APA's business units and provide an overarching strategy for promoting the health and well-being of the association's own workforce, thereby supporting APA's functioning and effectiveness.

Our goal is nothing short of making APA a national model of a psychologically healthy workplace. In fact, instilling a culture of wellness for APA's employees has been one of my top priorities since I became APA CEO in 2003. Flexibility is one of our internal core values and we promote work schedules that allow employees to meet the personal demands of their lives. In addition, we offer health and wellness programs for staff including Pilates, meditation, yoga, tai chi, aerobic exercise classes and Weight Watchers®, to name just a few. 

As psychologists' research has shown, offering such benefits does even more than boost employee health, well-being and satisfaction. It's also good for an organization's bottom line. Companies that offer such programs can boost morale, strengthen employees' commitment to the organization, increase productivity and reduce employee turnover. On all these fronts, APA is leading the way.