What is MIND ON THE JOB?

Imagine a workplace where everything just… works.

No bureaucratic delays. No counter-intuitive forms or software. No communication problems. No interpersonal conflicts. No worries.

Organisational psychology is the study of human thoughts, feelings and behaviours relating to the world of work, and the application of psychology methods, theories and findings to workplace improvement.

It helps you strive for workplace excellence.

Mind On The Job is principally a podcast series covering the broad domain of organisational psychology through interviews with expert researchers and practitioners. You can find the podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, TuneIn, as well as PocketCast and many more apps! There are also linked here on the website.

The host, Dr Ben Searle, is an organisational psychologist as well as a consultant, researcher, author, and speaker. He is a member of the College of Organisational Psychologists (and other associations) and is a former (now honorary) academic in Macquarie University’s Department of Psychology.

Wellness: More than Cupcakes?

Dr Ben Searle, October 15 2021

This article by Alex McKinnon, titled “It’s OK to hate your workplace’s corporate wellness policies”, will resonate with a lot of people. It certainly did with me when I read it this morning.

Most corporate wellness programs fall short of the mark, and some do so by an absurd margin. I want to discuss why supporting employee wellbeing has to go further than mental health awareness-raising, and where it could focus instead.

Firstly, let’s deal with some elephants in the room. 2020 and 2021 have been tough on our mental health. We’ve all been through a ton of change, faced a lot of risk, and got cut off from many of our usual support structures. If you’re a parent of children, then you’ve likely also been isolating with kids. Many have been juggling this with working from home, two things that clash horribly — it’s a particularly difficult form of “role conflict”, a major contributor to stress. So there are a lot of employees whose mental health is particularly vulnerable, and who are heading towards burnout. And most employers aren’t doing enough.

Frankly, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most workplaces struggled to do much about mental health beyond awareness-raising, which can seem superficial. Yes, stigma is still a problem that discourages people from accessing mental health services, but it’s 2021. We just had World Mental Health day (Oct 10), which started in 1992. If you’re an adult, you should already be aware about mental health issues (although there’s always more to learn). And if you run an organisation, awareness-raising just isn’t enough.

McKinnon writes, “But many companies are choosing to give their workers cupcakes and yoga sessions rather than access to childcare, more flexible working arrangements or permanent employment.” The article then goes on to quote Professor Pat McGorry AO, a professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, saying, “Employers don’t know what to do, to be honest”.

Do employers really not know what to do? Then I’ll explain.

Employees don’t burn out due to a dearth of cupcakes and yoga, but due to excess demands and insufficient resources. You know, the things people face in the course of their work. And the best way to manage these work design factors (that’s some organisational psychology jargon)? It’s not complicated! Reduce demands. Increase resources. Repeat until employee mental health is good.

What demands should you reduce? Reduce workload so that you aren’t expecting more than someone can achieve in a reasonable time. Minimise bureaucratic hurdles. Do something about bullies, harassers, and ongoing interpersonal conflicts. Identify and resolve role conflicts.

Which resources should you increase? Offer people more support, and encourage them to support one another. Let them work flexibly. Develop their skills, then let them make more decisions independently. Provide more clarity about what’s important. Ask them what else they need.

None of this should surprise anyone, not even employers, and yet somehow it never seems to be what happens. When I first posted this article as a Twitter thread, someone replied giving an example of what organisations do far too often — offer something so lacking in effectiveness it’s almost worse than ignoring the problem:

“My workplace did a survey recently and the number 1 problem was workload.

On offer the following month was a half day course on managing your email.”

The issue is rarely diagnosing the factors impacting employee wellbeing. Yes, there are many advantages to conducting diagnostic surveys — it can tell you what changes to prioritise, or which divisions need help with which issues. But it’s rare that the core problems revealed by wellbeing surveys are entirely unexpected.

The real difficulty is getting organisations to recognise that managing employee mental health requires more than just superficial action, and that improvements in work design make a difference in a way that cupcakes don’t.

Terrific #teamwork: Designing, coaching & assessing teams MOTJ ep #06

Mind on the Job episode 06 is about Designing & coaching terrific teams!

When a group of people get together under the right conditions, they can make a successful team — one whose collective capability is greater than the sum of its parts. But not all teams are effective, and some are downright dysfunctional.

So why aren’t all teams effective? What conditions are necessary for a team to work well? What else can we provide, and what can leaders do, to maximise team effectiveness?

To answer these questions, Ben chats to organisational psychology experts Dr Ruth Wageman (Team Diagnostics) and Ms Pauline Willis (Lauriate).

Go to MindOnTheJob.com for more resources on this topic.

More resources on this topic:

Mind On The Job is available on iTunesSoundCloudTuneIn, as well as PocketCast and many more apps! Contact us to suggest others if you can’t access it on your preferred app.

Mind on the Job (@mindonthejob)

Created, presented & produced by Dr Ben Searle (@drbensearle)

Episode 06: Terrific #teamwork: Designing, coaching & assessing teams.

Guests: Professor Ruth Wageman and Ms Pauline Willis

Music is Cypher by Kevin Macleod

If you enjoyed the episode, it would help us if you rate & review the show on iTunes! To do this, go to iTunes (use the search function within your app), search for Mind On The Job (even if you’ve already subscribed), click on the show under Podcasts, and click on the Reviews tab. Then rate and review?

Organisational culture & climate: What they are, why they matter, & how they change. MOTJ episode 5

Mind on the Job episode 05: Organisational Culture & Climate!

When people work in social groupings, like organisations, they tend to develop a shared set of perceptions, attitudes, and values. These can be reinforced through systems, behaviours, and personnel selection until you have measurable phenomena that we call organisational culture (and it’s more easily measured attitudinal cousin, organisational climate).

But what exactly are they, and what is the difference between them? Why do we care about them at all? And if they matter, what can we do to improve them?

To answer these questions, Ben chats to organisational psychology experts Associate Professor Ian Glendon (Griffith University) and Dr Louise Parkes (Voice Project).

More resources on this topic:

Mind On The Job is available on iTunes, SoundCloud, TuneIn, as well as PocketCast and many more apps! Contact us to suggest others if you can’t access it on your preferred app.

Mind on the Job

Created, presented & produced by Dr Ben Searle (@drbensearle)

Episode 03: Burnout & Wellbeing at Work: How Do We Manage Them?

Guests: Associate Professor Ian Glendon and Dr Louise Parkes

Music is Cypher by Kevin Macleod

If you enjoyed the episode, please leave us a rating & review on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts)!

Key Psychology Insights into Effective Job Selection — Mind On The Job

Mind on the Job episode 04: Assessment for Selection!

People are an organisation’s greatest asset, and from time to time, an organisation needs new people. But when a bunch of candidates apply for the one job, how do we work out who is the best person for the job? What are the limitations of traditional job interviews? What use are psychometric assessments? What differentiates executive selection from entry-level selection?

To answer these questions, Ben chats to organisational psychology experts Dr Patrick Dunlop (University of Western Australia) and Ms Jamie Sims (People measures).

More resources on this topic:

  • There are lots of great resources on YouTube about preparing for behavioural interviews (as the interviewer or the interviewee!);
  • Here is the link to the classic Schmidt & Hunter article in Psych Bulletin that summarises 85 years of selection research and highlights the merits of standardised psychometric tests.
  • I mentioned that PeopleMeasures won the assessment award in the 2015 Workplace Excellence Awards. Is your organisation eligible?

Available on iTunes, SoundCloud, TuneIn, as well as PocketCast and many more apps! Contact us to suggest others if you can’t access it on your preferred app.

Mind on the Job

Created, presented & produced by Dr Ben Searle (@drbensearle)

Episode 04: Assessment for Selection: Insights into Effective Hiring

Guests: Dr Patrick Dunlop and Ms Jamie Sims

Music is Cypher by Kevin Macleod

If you enjoyed the episode, please leave us a rating and/or review the show on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts)!

What Causes Employee #Burnout — & What Can We Do To Prevent It? Mind On The Job

Mind on the Job episode 3 — Burnout & Wellbeing!

Work can sometimes be stressful, but if it gets too bad or goes on for too long, people can burn out. But what does that look like? How would you know if you’re at risk of burning out? What causes burnout, and what should organisations be doing to prevent it?

To answer these questions, Ben chats to organisational psychology experts Professor Michael Leiter (Deakin University) and Ms Diya Dey (FBG Group).

Go to MindOnTheJob.com for more resources on this topic.

In the meantime, here are some resources to seek out:

Available on iTunes, SoundCloud, TuneIn, as well as PocketCast and many more apps! Contact us to suggest others if you can’t access it on your preferred app.

Mind on the Job

Created, presented & produced by Dr Ben Searle (@drbensearle)

Episode 03: Burnout & Wellbeing at Work: How Do We Manage Them?

Guests: Professor Michael Leiter and Ms Diya Dey

Music is Cypher by Kevin Macleod

If you enjoyed the episode, please leave us a rating & review on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts)!

What Causes Workplace #Bullying — & How Do We Discourage It? Mind On The Job

Mind on the Job Episode 2 — Workplace Bullying!

It’s a menace, it causes huge problems, and it happens in more workplaces than you’d think. So if someone is treating you badly at work, why is that happening, and what steps should be taken?

In this episode, Ben chats to organisational psychology experts Associate Professor Michelle Tuckey (University of South Australia) and Ms Heather Ikin (formerly of Workplace Health & Safety Queensland, now at the Office of Industrial Relations) about what bullying means, how common it is, and where it is most common. We then tackle the two biggest issues: what causes bullying, and what can you do about it?

More resources on this topic:

Available on iTunes, SoundCloud, TuneIn, as well as PocketCast and many more apps! Contact us to suggest others if you can’t access it on your preferred app.

Mind On The Job

Episode 02: Workplace Bullying: How Can We Discourage It?

Created, presented & produced by Dr Ben Searle (@drbensearle)

Guests: Associate Professor Michelle Tuckey and Ms Heather Ikin

Music is Cypher by Kevin Macleod