Conference on “Psychosocial risks at work “ held with great success at Kifissia city, Greece on June 9th,2017. The Conference was organized by the Free University of Municipality of Kifissia and the Institute on Social Dynamics. The event was under the auspices of the Municipality of Kifissia, which played an active supporting role. The attendance of the audience was impressively high including representatives of the business world, associations and employees from the private and public sectors. The speakers were distinguished academics and specialists. They were also present deputy mayors, municipal and community councilors.
In his address, Mayor George Thomakos said that local authorities are not just about cleanliness and waste management, they can also play a different and more substantial role in the society. «We are pursuing,» he said, «to open new paths with actions like this. Our goal is participation, optimism, hope and innovation. »
The conference was opened by Mrs.Maria-Christina Tsiama, municipal councilor, supervisor of the Free University, thanking all the eminent speakers and the employees of the Municipality who contributed to this team effort.
The first speaker was Dr.Nancy Papalexandris Emerita Professor in the Department of Marketing and Communication at Athens University of Economics and Business , who referred to the necessity of developing a positive organizational culture for the development of an organization, and also to the individual characteristics of the employees, the Leadership style and characteristics of organization that influence it. She also talked about bullying at workplace, which has already been described in the United States as an epidemic that spreads and undermines the work performance, development and health of employees. She revealed that according survey conducted in European countries, Greece holds the third highest position at workplace bullying with score 13%.
Dr. Ioannis Konstantakopoulos, Mineral Engineer-Metallurgist Engineer, Ministry of Labor, referred to the European Union’s Health and Safety at Work campaigns, highlighting the negative impact of psychosocial risks on both employees and businesses with estimated cost billions € for each Member State.
The meaning of Organizational Virtue was analyzed by Dr.Irene Nikandrou, Assistant Professor in Human Resources Management and Organizational Communication at the Athens University of Economics and Business. She pointed out its positive effect on the emotional and social identity of the employees, but also on the performance of the organizations: Higher Innovation, Customer Retention, Higher Quality, Higher Profitability, Low Employee Retirement.
Impressive evidence from recent surveys that highlight Psychosocial risks in new and emerging business dangers were presented by Mrs. Margarita Vatista, representative of the Association of Greek Chemists at the National Council for health and safety at work.The 37% of work-related illnesses and the 45% of sick leave days are due to psychosocial risks.
Mrs. Theoni Koukoulaki, the representative of ELINYAYE (Hellenic Institute of Health & Safety at work), pointed out that psychosocial factors are increasing during periods of restructuring and she extensively presented their experience of restructuring Municipalities under Kallikrates law. An EU-26 study, published in a WHO report(2011) on the effects of crisis, states that every 1% increase in unemployment is associated with a 0.79% increase in suicides at ages lower than 65.
The second section was organized and coordinated by the Employment Attorney Mr.Evangelos Bellos. He attempted to highlight the role of the state, its control mechanisms and the role of the independent authorities in addressing the psychosocial risks and at the same time to show their legal dimensions and possibilities for assertion the claims and the rights of the victims .At this session :
Mr.Dimitrios Toukas, Labor Inspectorate, presented the evidence of the causes of work-related stress, their impact on employees and businesses and their strategies for dealing with them. Emphasis was placed on the orientation of interventions to tackle work-related anxiety at an association level, as well as on the importance of active participation of both employees and executives in the processes.
Mrs.Almalia Leventis, Special Scientist ,representing the Independent Authority “The Greek Ombudsman” ,referred to the role and responsibilities of The Greek Ombudsman as a monitoring body of the principle of equal treatment in the workplace, and as well as an anti-discrimination body. In particular, she referred to the possibility of citizens’ reporting to The Greek Ombudsman, their claims’ handling, and to their collaboration with the Labor Inspectorate. She also referred to the fact that the complainant employer has now the burden of proving himself to the court or other competent authority that there has been no breach of the principle of equal treatment or discrimination against workers.
Mr. Panagiotis Boubouheropoulos, lawyer and author, referred to the term mobbing – moral harassment – as well as the limited interest of the Greek scientific community in the phenomenon, which is not justified by the facts. The main aim of his lecture was to summarize the legal significance of the phenomenon of moral harassment at work and the legal consequences associated with them.
The counselor –at law of The Centre of Athens Labor Unions (EKA) Mr. George Melissaris, highlighted cases of harassment from the jurisprudence of the Greek courts and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the experience at a union level. He also referred to the possibility of both extrajudicial resolution of the matter and provision of judicial protection, with a particular dimension in the attitude of trade unions. All the speakers reported in one way or another about weaknesses in the existing legislation.
The third thematic session started with the speech of Mr.Polichronis Kokkinidis, meditator lawyer , who presented the possibilities for out-of-court conflict resolution in the workplace through Mediation and stressed its long-term benefit to the organization.
Mrs. Christina Mazouropoulou, psychologist, representative of Hellas Employee Assistance Programs Ltd, presented measurement results of psychosocial risks and their impact on a large sample of Greek workers using the P.R.I.W.A. tool.
Mr.Christos Mantas, sociologist, spoke about Burn out, a syndrome of physical and mental exhaustion, under which the employee loses the interest and positive emotions that has towards the people, stops being satisfied with his work and performance, and forms a negative image for himself.
Mrs. Dora Vakirtzi, president of the Institute on Social Dynamics, presented the results of a burn-out survey for the nurses at the local hospital. The survey conducted in April 2017 by The Institute on Social Dynamics with the intervention of Kifissia’s Mayor Mr.Thomakos and in collaboration with the hospital’s management. She referred to specific strategies to face the problem at all three levels : hospital management, municipality’s social activity and personal empowerment.
The international experience of the positive effect of work on people with mental disabilities was transferred by Mrs. Ioanna Tsambalati-Vakalopoulou . She also described in details the methodology of their reintegration into work.
Mr. Michalis Karatzas, Bureau Veritas Hellas, presented the SMETA Code of Conduct and the great positive influence that it could have its wider application in Greek workplace environment.
At the end , Mr. Kostantinos Kouros, Institute on Social Dynamics , presented the Life & Talent HR tool that can diagnose professional interests and talents. The importance of an appropriate career choice in enhancing resilience to work difficulties has been proven, by several means .It is even confirmed by the Burn-out survey for nurses presented earlier at this conference.
In conclusion, the organizers pointed out the need for collaboration of organizations and services for the exploitation of knowledge, dialogue aiming to problem solving and they promised the continuation of relevant actions.