How Can Businesses Manage Psychosocial Risk in The Workplace?
What does psychometric profiling have to offer?
2 May 2023, By Chris Schutte
Why Managing Psychosocial Risk Is Important
With Queensland, Australia’s recent legislated changes to the standards of workplace health and safety, it is acute that managing psychosocial hazards and risks has become just as important as managing physical risks. This is likely to become the norm for businesses not only in Australia, but in many countries around the world soon.
The QLD Work Health and Safety Act now states that “duty holders must manage psychosocial risk in accordance with the legislation. This includes identifying hazards, eliminating or minimising risks, controlling risks in accordance with the hierarchy of controls, and maintaining and reviewing control measures to make sure they remain effective.”
So how can businesses, both in Australia and Internationally go about identifying the psychological risk areas of its employees and managing them effectively?
Psychometric profiling could be the answer.
What is Psychometric Profiling?
Psychometric profiling can work like a thermometer, as an instrument that measures for ‘temperature’ within an organisation. A core part of psychometric profiling is identifying the underlying behaviours, values and emotions of people at work. This comes with a variety of benefits, in the form of higher engagement, better workplace culture and higher levels of congruence between the employee and the organisation/job.
Psychometric profiling allows businesses to identify the behavioural characteristics of each person, how they will operate under pressure and how they can best be managed to keep them motivated in their role.
Common Risk Areas for Businesses
What are some of the likely risk areas businesses will be faced with and which psychometric assessments will help?
The new QLD code states that:
Common psychosocial hazards that arise from, or are related to, work are explored in the Code and may include:
- high and/or low job demands
- low job control
- poor support
- low role clarity
- poor organisational change management
- low reward and recognition
- poor organisational justice
- poor workplace relationships including interpersonal conflict
- remote or isolated work
- poor environmental conditions
- traumatic events
- violence and aggression
- harassment including sexual harassment.
Failing to manage psychosocial hazards can not only lead to work-related stress, but may result in psychological or physical injuries, lost productivity, a poor workplace culture, and low morale.
Each psychometric assessment has a level of overlap with these issues but addresses them from a different angle.
Identifying Risk Areas with DISC Profiling
InterDISC assessments deal with an individual’s core behaviour at work. This can highlight important information around how they are likely to deal with stress, particularly within different types of roles. It can often identify if a person is currently struggling or frustrated in their role. It also allows businesses to create a clear behavioural benchmark for the role.
The interDISC assessment allows businesses to deal with some of the most prevalent psychological risk areas by helping them to:
- Clarify job demands (Behaviour Job Profile) and ensure their people are properly aligned (InterDISC) with the demands of the job.
- Provide meaningful support, especially where the job demands might not be an ideal match with the individual.
- Tell managers when and how reward and recognition is best done to keep people engaged.
- Create healthier workplace relationships with less “personality clash” moments.
- Identifies clear and precise communication styles for different personality profiles.
- Understand how people are likely to respond to remote or isolated working.
- Create better workplace culture.
- Maintain engagement and higher morale.
InterDISC results can frequently point to underlying issues the individual may be struggling with. As an example, if the InterDISC graph pattern is a compressed profile for example (see image below), then the person either does not understand what is required of him/her or is trying to be all things to all people.
Identifying Risk Areas with Personal Values
Personal Values (PVP) assessments identify the key motivators that drive people at work. When these are not met or are at odds with those that are most important to the organisation it can lead to demoralisation.
The PVP assessment allows businesses to deal with some of the most common psychological risk areas by helping them to:
- Match individuals with an organisation/job where they are likely to be engaged and motivated.
- Create a healthy work culture.
- Understand how to motivate each individual.
- Clarify when and where reward and recognition is most important, and what form it should take for specific people.
- Identify the sorts of environments that will keep them engaged or potentially demotivate and stress them.
Matching an individual’s values against those of the organisation (CVP) (see image below) highlights where they are most likely to be at odds. Reversed/opposite values between the two, unless properly addressed, can lead to problems further down the line.
Identifying Risk Areas with EQ
The TEIQue assessment highlights how people understand their own and others’ emotions around them. TEIQue can indicate how they are likely to respond to various situations, and how they will cope when stressed or dealing with conflict, change, or performance issues.
The TEIQue assessment allows businesses to deal with some of the most common psychological risk areas by helping them to:
- Ensure the individual doesn’t have too high/low job demands and that they are emotionally capable of dealing with a specific role.
- Create healthier workplace relationships and stronger communication between employees and management. Less interpersonal conflict.
- Offer an indication of where the individual may need support and where they are likely to struggle.
- Equip managers to better handle difficult situations, such as conflict, poor work performance and morale issues.
The TEIQue example graph below shows that the individual measures low in Self-esteem and Emotional Management. This highlights an important area of risk for this individual and indicates that these are areas they would likely need to develop for their general well-being.
High and low scores of the emotional intelligence facets each come with their own benefits and disadvantages. For example (see image below) a person who measures low in stress management may take out their agitation and stress on other members of the team when under pressure. Someone who measures high in stress management, however, might not always feel the demands of their workload.
Finding solutions to psychosocial risks and hazards in the workplace requires a clear proactive assessment of what the issues are first. With the proper tools, businesses can avoid the guesswork and identify the real causes behind psychosocial issues in the organisation and find the ideal solutions before it is too late. This will inevitably lead to more effective and motivated individuals and teams.
It is important to assess and predict where issues are likely to occur, as prevention is always better than finding a cure. Using psychometric assessments profiling will enable businesses to identify risk, measure people’s behavioural characteristics, align them more easily with the organisation and engage them in their work.
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Chris has 30 years experience as senior manager and entrepreneur in the Human Capital consulting and management industry. He has a wealth of experience in business development, Human Resources and Human Capital risk management and turn-around strategies. His leadership experience, runs across various industries including Manufacturing, Retail, HR, etc.