No doubt you’ve seen a sign in your or another workplace that touts the number of days since the last lost-time accident. This is because there is no shortage of laws and regulations protecting employee physical health and safety in the workplace.  Employee mental well-being is more of a free-for-all, at least as far as formal guidelines or regulations go.

Many human capital leaders are asking themselves questions, like:

  • How much support for mental well-being is enough?  Is an EAP and a mindfulness app adequate?
  • Are we meeting compliance standards and recommendations for assessing psychological risk factors across our population?
  • Are our leaders, managers, and employees able to foster a psychologically safe work environment?
  • Is just supporting employee mental health enough, if there are characteristics of job design or the work environment which are harmful to mental well-being?

Good questions, indeed. Enter the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which offers some detailed guidance on these and other related questions.  If you are a leader in the manufacturing sector, you’re probably familiar with ISO. Across a wide variety of issues, adhering to ISO standards demonstrates that a company is committed to quality, regulatory compliance and has customers’ needs as a top goal.


What’s a Psychosocial Risk?

When it comes to mental well-being, ISO 45003 is the relevant standard.  The guideline lays out principles and practices for identifying and managing psychosocial risks in the workplace.

For the very first time, it provides a clear framework for how to manage and protect mental well-being at work. How? By plugging the gap in current workplace safety guidance, via the concept of ‘psychosocial risks’.  Psychosocial risks are simply aspects of the structure and organization of work including:

  • Excessively high workload
  • Lack of employee involvement in decision making
  • Poorly handled organizational change
  • Unchecked incivility and disrespect


What are the benefits of addressing psychosocial risks?

Implementing a program to identify and take action against psychosocial risks in the workplace has numerous benefits for your workforce, and across your business:

The returns to investing in a program to identify and address psychosocial risks are substantial and measurable.  A Lancet study shows that for every $1 invested in mental health evidence-based programs, employers can save $2-4 on other expenses.

In addition to the well-documented financial outcomes, adopting ISO 45003 in whole or in part also will produce intangible improvements and reflect positively on your employer brand.


Where do I start?

The ISO 45003 standard provides guidance on the identification and management of psychosocial risks, as part of a comprehensive occupational health and safety management system. It includes:

  • Details on recognizing the hazards that can affect workers’ mental well-being
  • Concrete examples of effective actions that employers can take to reduce risk and improve employee well-being

Commitment to many ISO standards involves an annual audit where compliance is confirmed by an independent third party.


Can meQ help?

Sure can. Data from meQ’s clinically-validated assessment can help identify the psychosocial risks across your workforce, take action to reduce those risks through cognitive behavioral (CBT)-driven interventions, and then measure improvements through reductions in stress, depression, anxiety, and burnout. If you want a deep dive into employee perceptions about the structure and organization of work, that’s an area where our experience also runs deep.

No matter your industry, meQ can help you identify and reduce risks. Our data assets can help you document compliance with ISO 45003.  Not only will you gain compliance, but you will reap the many benefits of improved mental well-being across your workforce:

  • Savings per enrolled employee per year including:
    • $300 reduced medical costs
    • More than $940 in improved productivity/reduced presenteeism
    • $305 in avoided absenteeism
  • 10%-29% lower turnover
  • 25% reduction in burnout
  • 30% improved resilience across your workforce

Read more about how meQ can support ISO 45003 in your organization.

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