The “Psychologically Healthy” Nonprofit Workplace: What Does It Take?

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March 8, 2013; Source: Forbes

We want to know what you do to make your organization a psychologically healthy place to work. The American Psychological Association (APA) recently handed out its 2013 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards, and among the four winners this year was one nonprofit: the Newark, Del.-based Christiana Care Health System’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center.

Writing for Forbes, Susan Adams notes that the 10,500 employee-organization, which diagnoses and treats cancer, goes the extra mile to help employees avoid the burnout that can come with working with cancer patients, including “staff meetings [that] include time for meditation…and quarterly hour-and-a-half staff bereavement meetings.” In addition, Adams reports that the nonprofit has a history of listening to staff and acting upon their suggestions; she cites the example of the Center’s rooftop vegetable garden, which was suggested by an employee.

In a press release celebrating its achievement, the Graham Cancer Center provided additional details of what it seems to be doing right:

“The Helen F. Graham Cancer Center excelled in its efforts to foster employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, work-life balance and employee recognition, according to the APA. The annual employee retreat, wellness website and flexible scheduling are some examples of the workplace practices that helped earn a 2013 award.

The Helen F. Graham Cancer Center healthy workplace practices are reaping rewards for both the organization and its employees. The department boasts one of the highest job satisfaction levels at Christiana Care and a zero percent turnover rate in 2012. Team members report that they have been able to reduce their stress, make health improvements and engage in a more active lifestyle.”

The Center has also established an “Esprit De Corps Committee” to help with morale in a stressful and emotionally charged work environment. Unfortunately, the environment at the Graham Cancer Center doesn’t appear to be the norm for most American workers, nonprofit or otherwise. The APA’s annual Work and Well-Being Survey found that 35 percent of the U.S. labor force reports being chronically stressed (as opposed to only 19 percent at the award-winning organizations).

The APA is the largest U.S. professional and scientific organization for the field of psychology. The other three organizations it honored with the 2013 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards are all located on tropical islands, which couldn’t hurt employees’ mental health. But what is your organization’s version of the rooftop vegetable garden? Do you have one? Shouldn’t you? –Mike Keefe-Feldman

  • Tracy

    I started a Wellness Committee at work! And while the organization hasn’t fully embraced it, we have been able to implement weekly stretching sessions to get people up out of their chairs and a bit more relaxed. Not as many people are involved as I’d like though.

  • Val

    HFGCC deserves the recognition. It also has to do with the love and care they provide families. I’ve not seen it anywhere else. Good choice!