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.
The big IR, HR, and WHS news in Australia this week is the new legislation around the right to disconnect.
The legislation (to give it it’s proper name, “The Fair Work Amendment (Right to Disconnect) Bill”) will provide employees the right — where reasonable — to ignore work-related communications outside of working hours. It doesn’t matter if the communications come from the boss, co-workers, or customers, because the aim is to recognise that in most jobs, people are paid to work during working hours only.
Like much legislation, a lot could hang on the interpretation of whether it is reasonable for a given employee to do so (given the nature of their responsibilities, contract conditions, personal circumstances etc). Obviously, it would be reasonable for a surgeon who is on-call to answer a call from the hospital. But the intention is for such cases to be recognised as exceptions rather than the rule.
The legislation has attracted a variety of criticisms. For example, some say it’s misguided because the focus is on an employee’s right to ignore messages, regardless of the reasons why the employee is being contacted. But my impression is that the legislation may be just the sort of approach we need to begin managing our current epidemic of burnout.
And a big risk factor for burnout is feeling like you’re always on duty, always needing to check in and keep up. Rarely taking a genuine break where you fully disconnect from work.
“Why not take a vacation, if you’re in need for a such a break?” Vacations are great, but since Westman & Eden’s 1997 study we’ve known that vacations don’t fix burnout. Instead, you need solid recovery time as often as possible, preferably every day, to interrupt the chronic stress of work. Ignoring work emails and Slack messages in your downtime is essential because, as the work of Sabine Sonnentag and colleagues has shown repeatedly, you shouldn’t even be thinking about work once your workday ends.
This is the problem with some of the criticisms of the legislation. If employees were free to ignore some messages, but not others, we’d need to check messages regularly to determine if any of them require a response. That’s the opposite of disconnecting.
Paradoxically, when people do burn out, the result can be a different kind of disconnection. The symptom of ‘mental distancing or cynicism’ means people find it harder and harder to ‘connect’ with and care about the needs of co-workers, customers, or anyone else. This can be debilitating for the people who burn out, but you might also imagine that it does nothing good for the productivity of their workplace. It is a far more problematic form of disconnection than going all weekend without checking email.
We’re hardly the only place in the world trying to address this problem. The right to disconnect has been part of the French labour code since 2017, and several other countries have similar laws. In Germany, many companies embargo emails sent after work hours, so that the emails don’t arrive until early the next workday.
I’m hoping the proposed legislation will help here. A bit of external pressure to nudge us towards more regular disconnection from work is a step in the right direction. A step away from burnout, and away from the chronic sense of disconnection that it can bring.
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).
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.
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).
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!);
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:
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?