A happy and healthy staff can increase the success of businesses and organisations, according to a leading expert in the psychology of work at Aston Business School.
Dr Wladislaw Rivkin is a lecturer in the Work and Organisational Psychology Department at Aston Business School where he studies how stressors, leadership and other resources can impact employees’ health, well-being and performance.
Speaking in the latest edition of ‘Aston means business’, he revealed that in the UK around 600,000 employees suffer from clinically diagnosed mental health and well-being problems, such as depression and anxiety, losing about 12.8 million working days a year.
Dr Rivkin said better sleep patterns and avoiding distractions such as mobile phones can all help individuals to enjoy more commitment to their jobs and gain more self-control over their emotions at work.
He said companies and organisations can also help by granting staff more autonomy, allowing flexible hours and providing positive leadership, such as establishing principles for workers to follow rather than making them think each task through individually.
An example of how mental health challenges were created, and how they can be tackled, was highlighted by Dr Rivkin’s own recent research on the negative impacts of commuting.
He said: “During the commute, individuals get depleted from standing in traffic jams or, if you use public transport, being around unfriendly or annoying fellow passengers. These demands during the commute translate into impaired work engagement and productivity at work.”
Dr Rivkin argued that organisations should therefore focus on creating a positive flipside to these stressors.
He explained: “With employees who can be autonomous at work, who have a high competence at their work and who feel related to their work, the impact of commuting demands on work-related productivity is not as strong.
“This suggests that organisations should satisfy employees’ basic psychological needs at work.
“We’re not talking about drastic changes. We’re talking about giving people some autonomy, training people properly so they become experts at their job and maintaining some form of good relationships among the workforce.”
The latest ‘Aston means business’ podcast, released on Tuesday 7 January, was presented by Steve Dyson, a business journalist, former daily newspaper editor and BBC HARDtalk interviewer.
Professor George Feiger, the executive dean of Aston Business School, said: “This fascinating podcast explains exactly how a stressed and depressed staff can result in poor performance, which ultimately impacts operational efficiency and profitability.
“It highlights the value of making sure staff are happier and healthier at work, and shows how this can lead to the greater success of the employing company or organisation.
“The interview provides essential advice for any business or organisation, which is precisely what ‘Aston means business’ is aiming to do.”
Prof Feiger said future podcasts will continue exploring the latest insights from Aston Business School’s finance, industry, legal and economic experts to help top entrepreneurs and rising corporate stars grow their businesses with a real competitive edge.
The ‘Aston means business’ podcast can be listened to on Aston’s website at http://www.aston.ac.uk/podcasts and will also be downloadable from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Deezer, Google Play Music and a number of other services.
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About Aston University
Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.
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