Psychosocial risks

When we talk about psychosocial risks, what are we talking about exactly?

Psychosocial risks refer to a set of situations that are experienced in the workplace by employees and managers and which constitute a risk to their psychological, social and professional well-being and productivity.
They refer to both the management of situations that are related to stress, psychological, emotional and mental health, risk situations of abuse and violence in the workplace and that may lead to illness, absenteeism, presenteeism, decreased productivity, conflicts in the workplace, reduction of engagement, motivation and a fragile work-life balance and problems in the personal life of employees.  Ultimately it affects employee overall concentration, dedication, motivation and productivity.
One of the most affected populations in the workplace is middle and intermediate management.
These psychosocial risks are closely linked to the modern working world, with reduced teams, exacerbated work pressure, long working hours, impact of new technologies and constant pressure for profitability and high productivity.

What is the importance of assessing these risks?

Evaluation of these risks is important as it allows companies to realize where they stand, to discover their biggest weaknesses as well as the potentials and opportunities within their organization and how these affect the different teams and/or sectors.
A good risk assessment allows companies to develop effective strategies for effective responses.
It avoids situations of disruption, threatening conflict, exhaustion, burnout’, falls in productivity, presenteeism and decreased engagement’.
A good risk assessment enables the identification of the most vulnerable sectors within organizations and develop specific action plans for these different sectors.
It also allows to understand the protective factors within companies, since they lead to the identification of areas of strength within each team in each organization.

How can we help portuguese companies, taking into account the portuguese business reality and context?

CAPA-Empresas, in partnership with the ISW-Limits, Belgium, has made available the “S-ISW» tool, translated and validated into Portuguese.
This tool is widely used in Belgium, France, the United Kingdom and Japan, and with currently more than 140,000 usages as ‘benchmark’, it allows not only an individual evaluation of each company but also a comparison with other similar companies and within the same sector of activity. It helps assessing strengths and weaknesses of each company and inter-company.

How is it possible to contextualize the Portuguese situation in European terms?

Portugal is in a situation of profound reorganization of its corporate and organizational culture.

We are moving from a socialized society to a dynamic society, post-modern and liberal. Set in a global world and a global organizational culture, a constant balance between the local and global needs to be built. Due to this development and new realities, companies find themselves forced to permanent restructuring, adapting to a smaller internal market and with less vitality. Also the need to find new strategies especially in internationalization and creating added value is center stage.

These challenges make companies most innovative, but also puts employees and managers under a much greater psychological and emotional pressure, as there are many problems, fears and insecurities, which in turn make people more vulnerable on a personal level. This might affect the private and family dynamics.

What can companies gain with the assessment of psychosocial risks?

The biggest gains are that companies are more aware of their employees and teams so to know where the greatest strenghts and weaknesses within their organizations lie.
Evaluation will also discover the positive ‘buffers’ in the organization.

What is the legal framework in Portugal regarding the theme of psychosocial risks?

Currently the legal framework is clear, with several laws regulating risks assessment. Among others there is Decree-Law 7/2009 of 12 February, Decree Law 102 / 2009 of 10 September, the transposition of the European Directive 89/391 / EEC and the Convention 155 of the ILO [International Labour Organization].

In addition to psychosocial risks which other areas are in line with the CAPA-Empresas business activity?

CAPA has been for the past 16 years an active partner for several companies in the areas of consulting, training and support of health and well-being.
It pioneered the introduction of EAP [Employee Assistance Services] in Portugal, and provides support services to employees and consulting in the human resources area.
The partnership with ISW Limits from Belgium, reference company in northern Europe for consultancy linked to well-being in social and working environment and owner of the “S-ISW» tool has been our latest achievement and contribution for portuguese companies and its employees.

What are the characteristics of the S-ISW tool

The tool ‘S-ISW “(Short Inventory on Stress and Wellbeing), developed by ISW Limits of Leuven (Belgium), is now available in Portuguese and adapted to the Portuguese culture by its partner in Portugal, CAPA-Empresas.

“S-ISW” is a broad international tool and used in various corporate cultures that has proved to be a powerful psychosocial risk assessment tool, wellbeing and ‘stress’ lived in several ‘settings’ and workplaces . It consists of 72 questions, divided into several categories, allowing to measure the well-being experienced by employees in their workplaces and, more broadly, in their lives.
It is possible to measure the degree of personal and subjective well-being that affects companies productivity, and other relevant factors to the good personal and professional performance.
The S-ISW tool was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour of Belgium and the European Social Fund and it allows to quickly and efficiently detect decisive psychosocial factors in the workplace which influence either positively or less positively the respective workplaces . Another great asset is the international ‘benchmark’ which currently consists of  around 140,000 applications, allowing to make comparisons by sector of activity. Companies are able to carry out cross-sector comparisons that may are powerful management tools.
We are available for more information and a free demo of the “S-ISW” tool.

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