Social Support, Mindfulness and Workplace Health

Lois Tetrick, Ph.D.

Our fall symposium, Healthy Workplace Solutions, introduced evidence and new ideas for improving workplace wellbeing and health.

Dr. Lois Tetrick reminded us the burden that stress plays in most of our lives, identifying top worker stressors asĀ  low salaries, lack of opportunity for job growth, job insecurity, uncertain job expectations and long hours. She pointed out that organizational level interventions – which can be so effective – are still relatively rare.

Dr. Joel Bennett shared how successful and healthy organizations foster healthy social connections to improve individual and organizational resiliency, using leadership, management, champions, peer-to-peer and individual “touch points.”

Some of us were less familiar with the information shared by Dr. Robert Roeser on improving occupational health and wellbeing through mindfulness training. He brought us up to speed on the extent of peer-reviewed publications and research studies on mindfulness, along with the successes demonstrated in his research with teachers and students using mindfulness to reduce stress and improve work and health outcomes.

Ryan Olson, Ph.D.

Our own Dr. Ryan Olson demonstrated the importance of combining environmental change with employee involvement together with social prompt and consequence, for improved work, safety and health. Read more about the SHIFT Project.

If you missed this event, you can look forward to watching the recorded webinar later this month on our symposium webpage.

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  1. Mindfulness training – actually when one asks the question why companies like e.g. Toyota got such a lead in production quality over the likes of e.g. General Motors, although many of the quality management techniques originated right under the US companies’ noses (q.v. the Baldwin award …) you will find that the “Buddhist” mindset in these societies plays a pivotal role. Mindfulness kind of comes “built into” the frame of mind of often even the “lowliest” worker and a “boss” is trained to listen in quality circles without any hierarchical stressors – despite the society at large being highly hierarchical as such! As for “job insecurity”: what I found in many companies is that, from the CEO down, there often is a policy of “induced” insecurity where top management seems to think that displaying some traces of insecurity keeps everyone “on their toes”. Rather than that they should communicate something like “if everyone does their job to the best of their ability, they will always be recognized and not be randomly ‘fired'”.

About the Author

Dede supports the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and the Oregon Healthy WorkForce Center's research, engagement and education programs. She is a certified industrial hygienist.

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