Miguel Muñoz, PhD student, University of Nottingham; Aditya Jain, PhD, University of Nottingham; Luis D. Torres, PhD, University of Nottingham

The current research aims to develop a theoretical framework that will allow bridging the gap between psychosocial risk management policy and organisational practices to promote mental health in the workplace.

During the last 50 years, work-related stress has become a relevant OSH issue worldwide. In this regard, the field of occupational health psychology (OHP) has grown significantly, delivering sophisticated explanations and guidelines to stakeholders to promote mental health in the workplace (ILO, 2016).

However, the literature has focused mainly on whether analysing/evaluating the policy context(e.g. Leka, Jain, Iavicoli & Di Tecco, 2015) or examining the organisational process involved in its intervention (Nielsen, 2013; Leka & Cox, 2010). However, there remains a gap examining the link between policy development and policy implementation.

In this regard, this research aims to contribute to the OHP literature by developing a framework that links the interaction between the policy and the organisational level (Iavicoli et al., 2014; Leka et al., 2011). This is achieved through a multilevel approach, particularly by integrating the formal stages of policymaking (Cairney, 2012) with the contributions made by institutional theory at the global, national and organisational level (Suarez & Bromley, 2015).

A semi-systematic literature review (Snyder, 2019) was conducted to examine policymaking’s formal and informal aspects and its subsequent implementation in enterprises. The literature search was conducted throughout the search engines Google Scholar and JSTOR, in which 661 articles were found. Table 1 further illustrates the results obtained for each keyword and its combination.

The inclusion criteria consisted of indexed empirical studies, theoretical articles, systematic reviews, and book chapters written in English. In contrast, repeated articles were excluded, as well as if they were not completely available or their title or abstract were not associated with occupational health and safety, institutional theory, policymaking or policy implementation. In total, 41 papers were examined.

Lastly, each article was thematically analysed (Braun & Clarke, 2012) to identify the main components associated with each stage from the policy cycle, beginning with the process that leads to developing a policy into its subsequent implementation in enterprises.

Firstly, world society theory indicates that incorporating psychosocial risks into the legislative agenda and its subsequent policy formulation is influenced by international institutions and local actors evidencing mental disorders’ societal cost.

Secondly, according to institutional logics, examining how belief systems and values associated with institutional logics are impregnated with public stigma towards mental health would be essential to develop awareness in enterprises about the relevance of managing psychosocial risks.

Lastly, Scandinavian institutionalism proposes three mechanisms to facilitate the translation of a policy into the organisational context. The concepts of “translation” and “sensemaking” respectively refer to enterprises adopt external ideas that contribute to their purpose and allow stakeholders fulfilling their responsibility. As for “loose coupling”, it relates to the interaction (or lack of interaction) between an organisation’s decision-making process and operational procedures. Figure 1 illustrates the multilevel approach to bridge the gap between policy and practice.

This research contributes theoretically to the OHP literature by developing a framework that integrates the role of societal pressures in aligning organisations’ policies, practices and outcomes. The current framework highlights the relevance of examining the translation of psychosocial risk management policies into the organisational context by monitoring how actors merge old and new practices to better cope with daily issues (Lindegaard, 2013). Incorporating social actors’ perception towards mental health allows developing novel strategies to raise key stakeholders’ awareness regarding work-related stress, which is an instrumental aspect for effectively translating psychosocial risk management policies into the organisational context (Dollard et al., 2019; Nielsen 2013). The next phase of this research will complement the depicted framework with empirical data to be able to generalise the proposed insights.

This framework provides a multilevel approach that establishes policy implementation as a sequential process. Thus, this research contributes to consider psychosocial risk management policies as an enabler to establish and embed organisational practices that promote mental health. Likewise, this framework provides insights to policymakers regarding the key technical and social aspects they should consider while formulating a policy, and identify the main challenges and opportunities enterprises face while translating psychosocial risk policy into their context. Lastly, the current framework should facilitate shifting stakeholders’ business mindset for OSH and psychosocial risk management. Further, this research provides insights to modify the perception of OSH as a checklist of elements to comply with and define mental health promotion as a strategic variable that contributes to businesses’ competitiveness and sustainability.

Tags: Best Practices in Creating Healthy Workplaces, Government / National Policies and International Collaborations, Interventions in the Workplace, Literature review, National and International Initiatives; Laws; Regulations; Policies; and Collaborations; Global Standards, Organization- and Job-Level Environments and Practices, Organizational Practices, Policy examination or policy review, r2p2r: Research-to-Practice-to-Research, Submission does not consider occupation or industry, Theoretical exposition or development