More demands, fewer resources—this is the way of today’s working world. As an employer, how you deal with this reality could be the difference between a prospering company and one that is burdened with high turnover rates and absenteeism issues.
“We have a situation where employers are feeling the cost of mental health already. So there is a fair bit of motivation to do something,” says Paula Allen, a partner with Morneau Shepell. “There is a legislative framework through the workplace compensation board. It has expanded its definition of mental injury so it’s clearer that things outside of trauma can be covered under the workers compensation act.”
According to Allen, the early ’90s recession led to a big spike in mental health claims. There was major organizational restructuring that led to the elimination of middle management. This saved companies money, but “that was actually a layer of support for employees,” she says.
Good indicators that your workplace may not be as sound as you thought (or need) it to be include the following:
high disability rates overall, not just for mental health;
- high turnover;
- high number of absent days;
- conflict; and
- customer service issues.
“All of these are indicators of a workplace that might have some risk in terms of psychological health,” Allen says.
What you can do about it
“Employers need to understand what the root cause is. Look at where the problem lies. Is it a particular work group or job category? Is there a particular time when it happens? The best way is to get information about what happens in the workplace is from supervisors and managers.”
Once you’ve pinpointed where the issues lie and have done a needs assessment, forging a path toward better psychological health will be easier and more effective.
Fostering psychological health
Ensuring that employees are equipped or have access to the following can help your workplace toward better psychological health:
- role clarity;
- skill development opportunities;
- employee recognition;
- physical health and safety;
- adequate workload (looking busy can be as stressful as having too much to do; and
- open communication.