Psychological Health and Safety Essential for Better Work

February 19, 2018

By Derek Sienko, President and CEO of Diversified Rehabilitation Group

Derek SienkoDerek SienkoKELOWNA – With this being recognized as “Psychology Month” I wanted to bring attention to the topic of psychology in the workplace, specifically psychological health and safety. I asked my colleague, Dr. Merv Gilbert to provide his insight on the topic.

Dr. Gilbert has worked as a psychologist for over 30 years and has helped development of programs including Guarding Minds@Work, Antidepressant Skills@Work and Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers.

Psychological Health and Safety at Work is Essential

In this era of increasing workplace pressures (increased competitiveness, a faster pace and labour shortages), many organizations are responding by nurturing their most important asset – their employees.

A psychologically healthy and resilient organization is one that has a clear purpose, is forward thinking, has an environment characterized by support, trust, and open communication, and employs people who are proactive, collaborative and care for themselves and others.

They select and train their employees, at all levels, to exhibit and sustain these capacities. They develop and implement programs and policies that encourage involvement, balance, health and safety amongst all their staff.

They are proactive in promoting psychological and physical wellness and have services in place to address and support employees experiencing ill-health. They constantly evaluate their efforts and are constantly seeking best, or better, practices that are informed by good evidence.

What are the common concerns?

A negative workplace environment contributes worker stress and strain, which in turn contributes to such mental health problems as depression, anxiety and substance misuse. While the employer is not in a position to identify disorders, these issues often show up in such lagging indicators as absenteeism, turnover, disability rates, accidents/injuries or increased benefits utilization.

On the positive side, psychologically healthy workplaces have been shown to have increased staff productivity, engagement and retention.

What are the steps that employers should take to have Psychological Safe Workplace?

Increasingly, Canadian organizations understand this. But many employers are not sure how to build such an environment before first answering several key questions:

  1. What are the potential actions I could take?
  2. Which actions are most relevant to my organization?
  3. Which are feasible in terms of cost and resources?

The National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, launched in 2013, outlines the steps necessary to create a Psychological Health and Safety Management System including commitment, planning, implementation, evaluation and sustainability.

For more resources / information and to register for our upcoming webinar on Psychological Health and Safety, please contact us.

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