May 21, 2013
How to Assess the Psychological Safety of Your Workplace – 5 Questions to Ask
1. Commitment: Does psychological health and safety play an integral role in all operations of your organization? Do all workers, including managers, have a role to play, and visible commitment and ongoing support from leaders?
2. Planning: Have you taken the first step by identifying the issues? Do you provide workers with a safe environment in which they can discuss issues, aspirations or concerns? Once issues have been identified, is there a planning stage to determine how they will be addressed? Engaging the workforce in both of these stages can improve both the process and the outcomes; as can encouraging active participation from those whose concerns are being addressed. Together, this increases the chances of long-term success. Refer to B.4.3 (page 26) in the Standard for a list of resources.
3. Implementation: Do you then turn your plans into actions? Do you create an implementation stage to ensure that the changes are communicated effectively and that the process of implementation does not cause undue stress or harm? If done well, this process can create a sense of belonging, building positive relationships and securing commitment (a great boost to psychological health and safety). Refer to B.4.4 (page 27) in the Standard for assistance with implementation.
4. Evaluation and corrective action: Are you evaluating your success? As with so many initiatives, without monitoring and measuring there is no way to determine whether or not the strategies implemented have been successful. Additionally, without the stats to back up your success, the initiatives may be at risk of being usurped by other priorities.
5. Management review and continual improvement: Has your psychological health and safety plan been integrated at the senior level – is it part of all strategic and operational plans, policies and practices? Frontline staff and middle management work hard to make improvements to the psychological health in the workplace and without senior management being aware of these changes, there is a risk that their actions might inadvertently decrease the gains made. Keep them updated on progress made with the initiatives to ensure continual improvement.
As mentioned previously, the Standard recommends organizations improve things gradually according to their size and need.
Following an assessment, you may choose to use the Standard as a starting point and focus on creating policies and practices to promote mental health, or you may determine that several aspects are already in place and use it to build upon existing efforts. Alternatively, you may use it to help create training programs.
The MHCC has created a detailed Action Plan to help you get started (download pdf).
Watch for Part 4 next week – How to Create Change – the P6 Framework
May 16, 2013
Psychological Safety Defined
For the purpose of the National Standard, psychological safety in the workplace has been defined as, “…one that is the result of every reasonable effort being made to protect the mental health of employees.”
The 5 factors considered to contribute to a psychologically unsafe workplace include:
1. Job demands: when job demands consistently exceed worker skill levels, are distributed unevenly or exploit them beyond what would be considered reasonable.
2. Job control or influence: when discretion over the means, manner and methods of work (including the perceived freedom to express views) is withheld from workers deliberately.
3. Reward: when praise, recognition, acknowledgement and credit are withheld from workers for no good business reason.
4. Fairness: when there is consistent failure or refusal to recognize and accommodate the reasonable needs, rights and claims of workers.
5. Support: when support with regard to advice, direction, planning and provision of technical and practical resources and information is withheld from workers by choice.
What are the 13 factors that determine psychological safety?
The Standard recommends employers consider the following 13 factors that affect psychological health and safety in the workplace. All are within the influence of the workplace and therefore, addressing them has the potential to have a positive impact on workers’ mental health, psychological safety and participation — in turn improving productivity and bottom-line results.
These 13 factors aim to help organizations think about the current state of their own workplace:
1. Organizational culture is a mix of norms, values, beliefs, meanings and expectations that group members hold in common and that they use as behavioural and problem-solving cues.
2. Psychological and social support refers to the degree of social and emotional integration and trust, as well as the level of help and assistance provided by co-workers and supervisors. Equally important are workers’ perception and awareness of support.
3. Clear leadership and expectations are present when leadership is effective and provides support that helps workers know what they need to do, explains how their work contributes to the organization, and discusses the nature and expected outcomes of impending changes.
4. Civility and respect are based on showing esteem, care and consideration for others.
5. Psychological demands of any given job are documented and assessed to determine whether any given activity might be a hazard to the worker’s health and well-being and then risks are minimized through work redesign, analysis of work systems, risk assessment, etc.
6. Growth and development is present in a work environment when a range of internal and external opportunities for workers to build their repertoire of competencies, through encouragement, support and job skills development, is provided.
7. Recognition and reward is present in a work environment where there is appropriate acknowledgement and appreciation of workers’ efforts in a fair and timely manner.
8. Improvement and influence is present in a work environment where workers are included in discussions about how their work is done and how important decisions are made.
9. Workload management is present in a work environment where tasks and responsibilities can be accomplished successfully within the time available. *Canadians describe this as being the biggest workplace stressor.
10. Engagement is present when policies, practices, and procedures are in place to ensure workers enjoy and feel connected to their work and where they feel motivated to do their job well. Engagement can be measured on a physical, emotional, and/or cognitive level (or all 3).
11. Balance is present in a work environment where there is acceptance of the need for harmony between the demands of personal life, family and work.
12. Psychological protection is present when workers feel able to put themselves on the line, ask questions, seek feedback, report mistakes and problems, or propose a new idea without fearing negative consequences to themselves, their job or their career.
13. Protection of physical safety is present when a worker’s psychological, as well as physical safety, is protected from hazards and risks related to the physical environment.
To dig a bit deeper and figure out how ‘safe’ your workplace is,
Watch for Part 3 next week: How to assess your organizations’ psychological safety.
May 8, 2013
Did you know that mental health illnesses are the leading cause of short and long term disability in Canada and cost employers almost $20billion each year in losses?
To help Canadian employers develop and improve psychologically safe and healthy working environments, a National Standard has been developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).
Read Part 1 of our 5 Part Series
Mar 25, 2013
Republished with the permission of Fasken Martineau
The HR Space is edited by Louise Béchamp, Karen M. Sargeant and Brian P. Smeenk
Winds of change keep blowing on Canadian immigration lands. In July 2012, we discussed several steps taken by the Federal government relating to the rules and processes applicable to temporary and permanent immigration applications. More changes have been announced in the recent months. These changes aim to allow more foreigners into Canada to meet growing labour shortages.
Mar 14, 2013
Reprinted from the Metro
In a landmark decision that may help thousands of Canadian parents juggling work and child care, the Federal Court says employers must try to accommodate employees with family obligations.
The ruling, released late last week, upholds a 2010 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision against the Canadian Border Services that found the federal agency discriminated against a former Toronto airport customs inspector when it denied her request for regular hours so she could make child-care arrangements.