A SCARIFF-BASED health psychology expert is about to launch a new online platform to promote wellbeing in the workplace.
Award-winning entrepreneur Lorraine Lynch has teamed up with psychotherapist Áine Connaire to establish the Business Psychology Academy (BPA).
The duo have combined their expertise working with individuals, organisations and entrepreneurs, to create the online education platform to provide training, workshops and consultation.
The premise is that, in today’s post-pandemic climate, psychology’s place in ensuring our workplace does not have negatively impact our mental health, has become more important than ever.
Having won Enterprise Ireland’s Startup of the Year and Network Ireland’s Businesswoman of the Year in 2021, Lorraine is a passionate advocate for the benefits of addressing wellbeing at work.
Employees are not just people who work in companies, in Lorraine’s view, they are people with families, interests, problems and aspirations.
To be treated on this level, as a human with many facets, is what many people are now in need of, particularly after being so isolated for so long.
“We know that poor mental health does not happen in isolation – it is generally as a result of a combination of stressors, poor social support and an inability to share what’s going on for people,” she said.
“We draw from the biopsychosocial model, which assumes that our physiology, thoughts, emotions, behaviours and social relationships are constantly impacting and being impacted by one another. If we want to support people, we need to recognise the whole person.”
BPA is also a response to research which shows the impact of toxic workplace cultures.
“If all the people drinking the water are becoming sick, we should not be wasting our time trying to treat the symptoms and instead we need to find the source of the contagion in the well,” she said.
“When we have a workplace that has high demands and low opportunities of support, we are creating an environment where burnout and absenteeism are inevitable.”
Figures from the OECD show that mental health issues cost the Irish State €8.2 billion every year, which is the equivalent to 3% of Ireland’s GDP.
Ireland ranks in the top ten countries internationally for the percentage of the population living with an anxiety disorder.
BPA’s founders believe the answer to this situation lies in reducing the risk of work-related psychosocial hazards like bullying and expectation to always be on.
They believe in an alternative way of working that incorporates compassion.
“Compassion is defined as a sensitivity to suffering, with a deep caring commitment to try to alleviate or prevent it,” Áine said.
“Active compassion in the workplace helps to make any working environment more human again. It brings the focus back to the actual individuals within an organisation where there is space to be truly heard, understood and supported.
“Active compassion involves turning toward an individual or group’s suffering and taking real, meaningful and effective action to address and resolve the issue at play. Compassion is much more than just being kind or understanding, it involves courageous and meaningful action.
“We conduct focus groups with company staff and use this data to present to management. As we are an independent body, staff feel comfortable opening up about issues they couldn’t with their bosses because all information is anonymised and pseudonyms are used instead of names.”
Lorraine and Aine believe that when staff feel valued, companies will see improved levels of positive emotions such as pride and gratitude, better health and wellbeing, more collective commitment, lower turnover rates, improved levels of collaboration, a more favourable reputation and a greater ability to attract and retain needed human resources.
Compassionate workplaces also have fewer costs associated with injuries, poor health and absenteeism.
The virtual launch of businesspsychologyacademy.ie takes place on May 4 at 1pm.
Registration to attend can be made on 087-7763103 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details are also available on BPA’s self-paced online CPD programs, as well as consultations and bespoke training opportunities for businesses.