SEPTEMBER 2013 • MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY 43
may espouse excellent safety practices, for example, but cut
corners in reality if those procedures undermine the bottom
line. Unsurprisingly, employees are quick to pick up on this
“decoupling” of policy and practice.
Dov Zohar, PhD, at Technion Institute of Technology in
Haifa, Israel, discussed an intervention designed to reduce
this discrepancy and improve the safety climate. He tested the
intervention in a heavy-industry manufacturing company in
which he randomly divided the company’s 28 departments into
control and experimental groups. He asked workers in both
groups to take surveys measuring safety climate, safety behavior
During the 12-week intervention phase, supervisors in the
experimental group were given feedback about the ratings they
received from employees who completed the surveys. Graduate
students who acted as facilitators helped the supervisors
interpret the survey feedback and set informal goals for
communicating with employees. At the end of the intervention,
Zohar found that safety measures had significantly improved
in the departments that received the feedback, as measured by
employee reports and independent audits. Meanwhile, safety in
control departments continued to lag.
Zohar said this study demonstrates the importance of
frequent communication between supervisors and their
workers. Such interventions could be used to improve the
safety climate in any number of organizations, for very little
cost, he adds — and the findings aren’t limited to safety.
Similar feedback interventions could also be used to improve a
company’s climate for ethics, diversity or even creativity, he said.
Effectiveness of job-search interventions
As unemployment has risen in recent years, job-search training
programs have flourished. But studies have found large
variations in these programs’ effectiveness, and few researchers
have taken a big-picture view of the literature, said Songqi Liu,
PhD, of Pennsylvania State University. He examined 47 studies
of various job-search interventions to draw broad conclusions
about the ingredients of a successful program.
Overall, Liu found, the interventions were helpful: The odds
of landing a job were 2. 67 times higher for job seekers who
participated in these programs. The most successful programs
used a combination of skill development (emphasizing such
techniques as creating a resume, networking for job leads
or presenting yourself well in an interview) and motivation
enhancement (such as setting realistic goals, sharing job-search
information with peers and converting negative self-talk into
positive statements). “If you have a blend of those techniques
in your training program, you’re likely to see the maximum
benefits,” he said.
On the other hand, job seekers are a diverse bunch. Older
workers may benefit more from programs that teach skills such
as using the Internet effectively. Younger workers, who are more
likely to have honed their technical skills, might get more out
of programs that teach networking or interviewing tips, for
instance. “You should choose the training program that’s best
for you,” he said.
The results, said Liu, aren’t applicable only to job hunters
and career counselors. He found that governments fund a
number of job-search training programs — and of those, many
weren’t very effective. He hopes his study and others like it
will help governments and other groups design more effective
unemployment programs for people looking for work. n
Kirsten Weir is a science writer in Minneapolis.
“The workplace is an ideal venue for advancing health.
People come to work with an understanding that they
are going to follow directions, take instruction, be part of
a team and learn new skills. It’s really a perfect place for
L. CASEY CHOSEWOOD
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health