Managing the psychosocial workload in the workplace

In a remote and hybrid work environment, it can be difficult to detect harmful workloads for employees in time. The employee is not always able or daring to bring up the matter and is not always even aware of their stress status.

According to the law, in addition to the physical working environment, employers must be aware of psychosocial workload factors at the workplace and act if they notice harm or danger to employees' health. Psychosocial workload factors are related to the content of work, work arrangements or the social functioning of the working environment. Risks may be caused, for example, by deficiencies in the fluency of work, unrealistically planned workload, extended working days or non-existent opportunities to influence work. There may be challenges in the content of the work and, for example, there may be too many overlapping tasks or difficult interaction situations at work. There may also be deficiencies in the psychological safety of the work environment. 

 These factors can be stressful if left uncontrolled. Harmful workload can occur in any workplace and can affect workers at all levels.

 Clear view of psychosocial workload

 If the employer does not have sufficient expertise to identify and assess psychosocial workload factors, it is important to use external experts and tools. The Aisti Health service has clear indicators for assessing psychosocial workload. This section is automatically available if you subscribe to the Aisti Health work sections: Inspiring culture and Motivational work. Now there is also a separate module for assessing psychosocial stress in case the work community needs to monitor this area with quick and easy survey.

Workload factors vary in different jobs, and this is why the employer must identify the psychosocial workload factors of the workplace, department, workplace, and different jobs. The employer must also assess the hazards and disadvantages caused by working hours. When assessing the magnitude of the risk, the employee’s personal factors, such as age, must also be considered. The advantage of Aisti Health is that the results can be grouped flexibly.

Identify and manage risks and strengthen resources

Psychosocial workload factors can be managed as systematically as defects in the physical work environment. It is important to first identify the risks of the work and prioritize them. In addition, the urgency of corrective measures must be assessed. When this step is done thoroughly enough and employees provide accurate background information, it is easier to plan the right preventive actions.

There are always two sides to assessing psychosocial loads: stress factors and resource factors. The best results are obtained when looking at the balance between harmful workload and resource factors. An appropriate workload at the workplace promotes employee motivation and increases professional competence.

Aisti Health offers a good tool for this, as it illustrates the relationship between risks and resources. The maximum benefit from the Aisti Health service comes when psychosocial workload survey is done together with employees' well-being assessment called "Energetic person“. This provides clear insights into the dependencies, showing how the identified psychosocial stressors negatively affect employees' health, the type of health hazards they can cause, and the likelihood of health issues arising from them.

Aisti Health provides means to manage harmful stress factors

Based on thorough risk and resource information, it is easier for employers to start eliminating or reducing harmful workload factors, provide employees with management tools and create support practices for employees who are overloaded. The load factor shall be reduced if the risk posed by the load factors is significant. If the risk is low, it may be sufficient to provide employees with controls and to have effective workplace practices in case of harmful workload.

By combining these measures, the employer can effectively prevent the harmful effects of psychosocial workload factors. Actions may include securing resources, clarifying work processes, planning work, developing managerial work, improving communication, and ensuring people empowerment.

It is typical of workload factors that they cannot always be avoided or eliminated. For example, challenging customer situations cannot be completely avoided in customer service work, and it can be challenging to combine work and free time in shift work. The employer must provide employees with the means to manage harmful workload factors, for example, through training, flexible working hours, increased social support and increased feedback on work. The employer must also provide employees with sufficient training and work guidance.

The best results are achieved with continuous monitoring

The risk assessment process is a continuous activity, and the employer must monitor the adequacy of the measures taken. The monitoring provides the employer with information on whether the workload has decreased and whether additional measures are needed. The employer must also consider the changing working conditions, and the report and assessment of workload factors must be updated if the conditions change substantially.

It is also essential to monitor the impact of the agreed measures. Aisti Health provides an excellent view for monitoring, as the report provides an illustrative view of the results of previous risk assessments. A clear visual view helps to see whether the measures are heading in the right direction.

The Aisti Health psychosocial workload survey helps prevent mental strain at work and build a psychologically safer working environment. By involving employees in identifying workload factors, the best results are achieved, as they are the best experts in their own work. This helps the employer to avoid or reduce the risk to employees' health caused by workload factors on their own initiative.

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