by Kristen Knight
The movement to recognize Labor Day started in the late 1880s as a way to honor the achievements of American workers. Today, many employees simply look forward to a three-day weekend, one that unofficially marks the end of summer with barbecues and last strolls on the beach. But we can also use the occasion to reflect on our work and workplaces as the year rolls towards a close.
News stories, studies, and personal anecdotes highlight our frantic schedules, inability to “unplug,” and other unsettling aspects of modern work life. Researchers agree that satisfying work is one of the crucial ingredients to a happy, healthy life. But what really makes work satisfying, and what makes a workplace healthy? How do we find or help create those alternatives to the grind?
APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program—part of the Center for Organizational Excellence—is a public education initiative designed to educate the employer community about the link between employee well-being and organizational performance. Each year, APA bestows its Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award on companies that foster employee health and well-being in a variety of ways. The program inspired the 2016 book, The Psychologically Healthy Workplace: Building a Win-Win Environment for Organizations and Employees, which focuses on employee involvement, work-life balance, employee growth and development, employee recognition, and health and safety.
We employees spend many, if not most, of our waking hours at work during the course of a week—and yet many of us don’t feel fulfilled at our jobs. In Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace (2013), experts investigate how meaningful work can be fostered and sustained. Justin M. Berg, Jane E. Dutton, and Amy Wrzesniewski explore the concept of job crafting—described as “the process of employees redefining and reimagining their job designs in personally meaningful ways”—in Chapter 4 of this book. As the authors point out, meaningfulness is one factor associated with work-related benefits such as increased job satisfaction and performance. And that does sound like a win for both employers and employees.
Eisenberger, R., & Stinglhamber, F. (2011). Perceived organizational support: Fostering enthusiastic and productive employees. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4316128.aspx
Quick, J. C., Wright, T. A., Adkins, J. A., Nelson, D. L., & Quick J. D. (2013). Preventive stress management in organizations (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4317292.aspx
American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence: https://www.apaexcellence.org/
Berg, J. M., Dutton, J. E., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2013). Job crafting and meaningful work. In B. J. Dik, Z. S. Byrne, & M. F. Steger (Eds.). Purpose and meaning in the workplace (pp. 81–104). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/14183-005
Grawitch, M., & Ballard, D. (Eds.). (2016). The psychologically healthy workplace: Building a win–win environment for organizations and employees. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4318134.aspx
United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). History of Labor Day. Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history