OHWC occupational health psychology summer institute held

The Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) Summer Institute (SI) was held this week at Portland State University.  The SI focused on the broad scope of Occupational Health Psychology that encompasses the issues of Total Worker Health (TWH) and was attended by about 100 people, shown below at the opening keynote.
OHWC SI 2016

Three main overarching themes from the Summer Institute were summarized by Dr. Hammer:

  • Importance of the effects of leadership and leadership support in OHP and TWH approaches and strategies leading to improvements in safety, health, and well-being.
  • The context and sample matters in studies of OHP and TWH.
  • We need to include more from the perspectives of health economists.

SI Director Dr. Leslie Hammer is introducing the first keynote in the picture above and she is seen on the far right with the SI speakers, shown below (three are missing).

Summer Institute-Speaker Group-2016

Speakers at the OHWC OHP Summer Institute 2016

The slides and audio recordings of all but two talks will be available on the Institute website by August 1, 2016.

Key points from each speaker are listed below:

Day 1

Bakker: Creative Approaches to Employee Work Engagement

  1. Changes to employees’ work engagement can be made at the individual-level (bottom-up approach) – using strategies such as job crafting, mobilizing ego resources, strength use, and self-leadership
  2. Leaders can also optimize job demands and job resources for employees (top-down approach) and facilitate individual-level changes as well (e.g., strength use support)

McDonald: Creating a Culture of Safety

  1. Importance of diffused leadership (including executives and lower-level management) – 200% accountability (including self and others) – bottom-up & top-down approaches
  2. Importance of culture, communication (transparency), commitment (involvement from all levels of an organization) and recognition – followed by $10M reduction in work comp costs over 3 years
Jim McDonald

Jim McDonald of Meijer

Leiter: Improving Civility Contributes to Well-Being at Work

  1. A culture of civility can reduce burnout (e.g., exhaustion & frustration): reciprocity of positive treatment, positive social encounters and interactions
  2. Organizations should intervene at the workgroup-level and seek to change collective behaviors and collective thresholds

Rineer & Pina: Organizational Barriers and Novel Solutions to Improving Occupational Health

  1. Practical barriers (e.g., lack of resources or lack of knowledge) can hinder employee wellness program effectiveness
  2. Importance of leadership support and employee engagement to successfully carry out worksite wellness programs
  3. New emerging technologies/techniques OHP researchers can learn from public health informatics

Overarching Theme:

Each presentation stressed the point, and represented the importance of both “top down” organizational approaches, as well as “bottom up” individual approaches to OHP and TWH strategies.

Day 2

Sorensen: Work & Health, Evidence on the Pathways to Implementing Total Worker Health

Day 2 keynote Glorian Sorensen 2016 SI

Dr. Glorian Sorensen of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

  1. Importance of an integrative approach (protection and promotion) to improving employee holistic health and well-being primarily through changes made to the work conditions
  2. Workers are already thinking holistically and in an integrated way, it is time that we join them with workplace approaches that are integrated
  3. Leadership commitment and employee involvement are both critical: need communication and transparency

Dimoff: With a Little Help From My Boss: Supervisors as Resource Facilitators

  1. Leaders play a major role in recognizing warning signs of problems experienced by employees and in facilitating the use of organizational resources among employees
  2. Mental Health Awareness Training for leaders and the Signs of Struggle (SOS) tool are effective strategies in improving recognition, treatment, and long-term ROI (overall employee mental health and leaders’ knowledge can also be enhanced)

Hurtado: Time at Work and Workers’ Health

  1. A large proportion of each day is spent at work – organizations should do something about workers’ experience; they play a role in optimizing employee health and well-being
  2. How time is organized at work (and outside of work) can have major implications on employee health (e.g., time off, breaks, shiftwork, work-time control, flextime)
  3. Need to better understand the health pathways between organization of time and health/occupational health outcomes

Yang: Workplace Mistreatment Management: Nipping Mean Behavior Before It Starts

  1. Cultivating a positive organizational climate and culture appears to help reduce workplace aggression/mistreatment among co-workers
  2. Management practices/leadership can foster more positive organizational climate, specifically via Aggression-Preventive Supervisor Behaviors (APSB)
  3. Future plans include supportive group intervention for supervisors to solve problems and increase APSB

Overarching Theme:

David Hurtado at 2016 SI

Dr. David Hurtado of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU

There is a need to pay attention not only to intervention strength, but also scalability.

Day 3

Dennerlein: Safety Incentives, Safety Climate, & TWH in the Dynamic Environment of Commercial Construction

  1. Construction workers are a part of a unique worker population that experiences some (relatively) non-traditional stressors at work – more context/occupation-specific research is warranted
  2. Safety culture has parallels with the integrated TWH approach, including both protection (controlling health hazards) and promotion (training and implementing organizational policies and procedures) – B Safe intervention led to large effect size changes in safety climate
  3. B Safe intervention focused on safe conditions in the workplace. Frequent measurement of conditions, feedback to the workforce, and incentives led to large effect size changes in safety climate

Demerouti: Bottom Up Interventions to Stimulate Effective Functioning

  1. Job crafting is an individualized bottom-up strategy that is *not* designed to replace top-down strategies. Top-down approaches are still needed to complement bottom-up ones.
  2. Job crafting is designed to deal with organizational change/transforming work environments, but the extent to which job crafting is effective may depend on the nature of autonomy and interdependence in a certain job/occupation.
Dr. Amy Adler

Dr. Amy Adler of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Adler: Behavioral Health Leadership in a High-Risk Occupation

  1. Leaders (e.g., front-line supervisors) work very closely with soldiers (sometimes they’re responsible for them 24/7) – their behaviors play a significant role in soldiers’ mental health and readiness (and unit-level outcomes like unit functioning)
  2. Domain-specific leadership behaviors (including sleep, COSC, health-promoting) can enhance soldiers’ mental health above and beyond general leadership behaviors. (+ rank and combat experience)

Hopcroft: Design Your Workplace for Wellness Wins (And Live Longer, Better)

  1. Four elements of wellness: (1) move naturally, (2) right outlook (e.g., sense of purpose), (3) eat wisely (e.g., 80% rule), and (4) connect
  2. Changes made at the community-level (e.g., Blue Zones project) by emulating lifestyles adopted in some of the longest-living cultures have been shown to improve community & individual health and well-being – large changes in weight, BMI, and other markers followed implementation of Blue Zones programs in communities.
  3. Blue Zones project can be extended to worksites by tailoring best practices and utilizing motivational materials and activity

Special thanks to Dr. Janelle Cheung with help from Dr. Wylie Wan for providing these notes.

 

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About the Author

W. Kent Anger, PhD, is a Senior Scientist and Associate Director for Applied Research at OHSU's Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology. Kent is also the Director of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center, a NIOSH Center of Excellence in TWH.

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