Professional Studies Faculty
Matthew J. Grawitch, Ph.D.
My program of research began with a simple study of the effects of mood on group creativity. Since that time, my program has grown to encompass something broader: The Healthy Workplace. This line of research began with my work with the American Psychological Association, and it is something I am very passionate about. Most of my research centers around the healthy workplace, and you can check out a selection of my publications & presentations or see a complete list by checking out my curriculum vita. In addition, I regularly conduct web-based research as a way to efficiently collect data related to the healthy workplace.
In essence, my research views the healthy workplace as something that results from the combination of healthy workplace practices and effective communication mechanisms. When these practices and communication are in alignment, the organization should experience positive outcomes, both in terms of employee well-being and organizational effectiveness. All of this, of course, occurs within a specific context (such as the values and mission of the organization, the organization's design, etc.) that must work with, rather than against, the implementation of healthy workplace practices.
Generally, we discuss five types of specific Healthy Workplace Practices:
- Employee Involvement: practices designed to increase employee autonomy or involvement in decision making
- Employee Growth & Development: practices designed to help employees achieve what they desire to achieve, by offering them internal and external training opportunities and career development services
- Work-Life Balance: practices designed to help employees better manage the inevitable conflict between their work and personal lives, which may include options for altering when, where, and how work is conducted
- Employee Recognition: practices designed to reward employees for service and performance, including, but not limited to, monetary compensation, bonuses, and awards
- Health & Safety: practices designed to promote welfare and wellness of employees in the workplace, including but not limited to health screenings, safety management programs, weight loss and exercise programs, and safety training
For these five types of workplace practices to be effective, they must be aligned with the organization's culture, structure, strategy, and management style. In addition, the organization must have effective ways of communicating with employees. Effective Communication Mechanisms can be defined as:
- Upward Communication: Providing employees with the opportunity to (1) have input into new programs and (2) feedback regarding practice effectiveness
- Downward Communication: Having communication vehicles in place (such as newsletters, memos, etc.) that continually reinforce the organization's commitment to a healthy workplace and provide information to employees about the availability of healthy workplace programs and practices.
Much of the research we have conducted so far has focused on developing the model and testing various components of that model. Currently, I am in the process of working to develop a more business-focused framework that seeks to differentiate different types of work-life balance initiatives. For example, there is a very clear difference between initiatives that create alternatives for when, where, and how work is performed (such as telecommuting, flexible scheduling, and job sharing) and employee-focused benefits that provide opportunities for employees to take time off to manage personal demands (such as vacation time and sick time). It remains to be seen how these different types of benefits work together to create the work-life balance culture of an organization.
You can find out more about my work in this area by visiting the Organizational Health Initiative website. There, we discuss how various practices have an effect on employee health and well-being and organizational effectiveness. We also discuss how different workplace practices can affect the way employees choose to spend their limited resources (such as energy, time, and money).