Cause and prevention of psychosocial risks
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Published by Marie-Laure Hag, Head of HR Consulting at GMBA
44% of employees reported psychological distress after the lockdown, reports OpinionWay. During crises, psychosocial risks (PSR) are exacerbated because they are rooted in the organisation and management of the company, which is undergoing new constraints.
Psychosocial risks (PSR) correspond to various situations that affect the physical integrity and/or mental health of employees in the workplace. These risks combine three elements that have an individual, collective and organizational dimension: stress, violence perpetrated within the company and finally violence perpetrated outside the company. The detection and prevention of PSR are essential to maintain the proper functioning of the company in times of crisis.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, employees have been experiencing stress related to the fear of being contaminated or anxiety due to the current high level of socio-economic insecurity. Concern about the future of the company, the sustainability their job or organizational changes is on the rise, hence generating new difficulties in managing emotions about working time. Therefore, whether it is a question of hierarchical relationships or relationships between colleagues, valuing social ties through careful communication and taking into account each other's emotional state is proving to be a determining factor in getting through this unprecedented period.
Deterioration of social relationships
Teleworking can lead to many interpersonal tensions because of the distance and the means of communication used. This concerns both relationships between colleagues and hierarchical relationships. In the context of the covid-19 epidemic, some people may feel isolated from their team. Other employees will feel that the hierarchy does not support them enough due to a lack of information and attention.
Teleworking as applied in an emergency situation and without a manager increases employees' sense of insecurity and loss of orientation. However, an overly strict framework that reduces employees' room for manoeuvre can create a deleterious climate. Indeed, excessive control of activities can be regarded as surveillance and imply lack of trust, and therefore be counterproductive. Maintaining a balance between the framing of activities and the autonomy of staff requires frequent dialogue and the regular involvement of employees in decision-making.
Moreover, when interpersonal relations deteriorate, consultation with all employees is essential to resolve tensions within the company. The Social and Economic Committee (CSE) can play an essential mediation role in such cases.
A disturbed work balance and sense of purpose
In addition to emotional and relational difficulties, working in times of health crisis can lead to organizational difficulties. Some employees may experience a work overload due to a decrease in the number of employees or a significant increase in their activity, which in turn can lead to an imbalance in their professional and personal life. Other teleworking employees may have felt useless. These two very different situations can lead to individual and/or collective burnout, which can be detrimental to the organisation of the company.
In order to limit a loss of purpose at work, it would seem desirable to adapt the workload of each individual to the context in terms of objectives, skills, aptitudes, etc. It is also a question of ensuring that the work carried out during this difficult period is valued and recognised.
Finally, for the employer, who has a legal obligation to protect the health and safety of its employees within the company, the organisation of meetings to get feedback, exchange and detect these phenomena is essential. Moreover, it is advisable to schedule these professional meetings both when the working environment is deteriorated and when the work organisation is more institutional.
For more information
Marie-Laure Hag,, head of GMBA’s HR consulting division. For the past ten years she has been assisting HR managers and directors from all sectors of activity (design and consulting firms, catering, art and culture, industry, etc.) in their strategic decisions in terms of personnel management by associating the psychological factor. She has been able to follow the evolution of social legislation and practices in the professional environment, including as a team manager. Areas of expertise: HR consulting, support for managers and employees, HR audits (compliance, process and optimisation), HR management. She also acts as a trainer for GMBA's clients.