Psychological Availability – How Does It Affect Your Organization?

Most people can agree that their work life has changed dramatically over the past few years. Zoom meetings are the norm. Hybrid schedules or work-from-home jobs are becoming typical.  And often, the lines between work life and home life have increasingly blurred. It has tested all of us and led to an increase in burnout and disengagement in the workplace. And that contributes to lost productivity, decreased morale and higher turnover – all things that no organization wants to deal with!

With all of these new challenges in mind and a desire to help organizations work through them, I am currently completing a certification from Cornell University on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The course, taught by Professor Nishii, takes a deep dive into the issue of employee engagement and examines three components: psychological availability, psychological meaningfulness and psychological safety. We’ll be looking at each one in more detail in the coming months, starting with psychological availability.

What Is Psychological Availability?

What exactly do we mean by the term “psychological availability”? Organizational psychologist William Kahn, the so-called father of employee engagement and author of the 1990 study “Physical Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work”, defined it as “employees feeling mentally and physically available to harness their full self at this particular moment.” In other words, team members should feel the demands of their position are reasonable and achievable. Work/life balance falls under this umbrella and we all know what a challenge that can be these days. “Burnout” is a term we hear all the time and are probably facing within our own organizations.

This “availability” concept includes many aspects of the workplace. For example, the physical environment has to be examined. Do employees have the equipment necessary to do their job? Do they have the space they need to work individually and as a group? Management and peer support also play a key role. Is management communicating effectively and consistently? Is the organization’s culture enabling team members to feel like they’re flourishing and not floundering? The goal of promoting psychological availability comes down to creating a workplace where team members feel heard and supported – both through the physical and emotional environment.

According to a recent workplace study from Gallup, 51% of workers are “not engaged”, meaning they are psychologically unattached to their work or company. And many of them feel they have more options now – the “Great Resignation” has had a major impact on many organizations. With all of the challenges leaders face while navigating a post-pandemic workplace, problems with disengaged employees can sneak up quickly and snowball into major issues.

That’s where Leah M Joppy and Associates can help. We can get to the root causes of WHY team members are feeling disengaged and work with you to come up with ideas to address these problems quickly. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at and let’s start tackling any disengagement issues now!