39% of Ontario employees wouldn't tell their manager if they had a mental health issue - which probably goes some way in explaining why mental illness costs the Canadian economy $51 billion every year in lost productivity. As with any risk to your organization, the best defence is a good offence. Never has this been truer than in the case of workplace mental health.
The Workplace Safety & Prevention Services' (WSPS) Organizational Health Team talks about the 13 psychological factors for workplace mental health - where they came from and how you can implement them into your organizational strategy.
The 13 factors are defined as elements that can impact employees' psychological responses to work and workplace conditions. The factors are based on how we organize our work and manage our people with mindfulness and carefulness. When these factors are addressed, they can positively influence employee and organizational health, resilience and sustainability. Consistent with research into fundamental psychosocial risk, the 13 factors have been validated as part of the development of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.
It's important to note that each one of these factors is tied to the next. That's to say, they flux and influence one another creating positive or negative changes in the mindset of your workforce. They are:
- Organizational culture
- Psychological support
- Clear leadership and expectations
- Civility and respect
- Psychological demands
- Growth and development
- Recognition and reward
- Involvement and influence
- Workload management
- Psychological protection
- Protection of physical safety
The first step in implementing these factors is understanding them. Thinkmentalhealth.ca, a website created by Ontario Health and Safety System Partners boasts an impressive video series - 'have That talk' - which details the intricacies of each factor individually. It's a great tool you can use to further educate yourself on how to initiate discussions with your team, build awareness and prompt open communication.
"These videos can be used to initiate discussion in meetings or safety talks to build staff awareness of the 13 factors," says Workplace Mental Health Consultant, Danielle Stewart. "Organizations should also conduct a Needs Assessment, to see how the 13 Workplace Factors impact their organization." Perception surveys, such as the Guarding Minds@ Work survey is a great needs assessment tool that can be used.
Once you're fully versed in the factors' nuances, it's time to talk about implementation. A good place to start is Thinkmentalhealth.ca readiness survey tool. Here, employers answer a range of questions using a scale of one to five - the website then calculates how ready the business is to adopt and implement a workplace mental health program.
Measuring the ROI on investing in mental wellbeing is something of a hot topic right now. But can you put a price on the mental health of your workforce? Implementation is dependent on existing policies and programs already in place within your organization, as well how you scored in the readiness assessment. Ensure you give yourself enough time to do some thorough research into the best tools and programming for your organization. There's a plethora of free resources, categorized by readiness state, that are readily available on Thinkmentalhealth.ca to help you during implementation.
In order for any workplace mental health program to be successful, it's essential that your senior leadership team is visible and active throughout the development stage. Psychologically Healthy and Safety programming takes effort and patience. Remember -, creating a mentally healthy workplace requires continual improvement over time, there is no quick fix.
"A common mistake organizations make after conducting a needs assessment is not reporting back to staff in a timely and honest manner," added Stewart.
One way of ensuring your program flourishes is by understanding the diversity of your workforce and encouraging worker participation at all level, - to offer their input and suggestions. Research from Cloverpop, a decision making and collaboration Software Company, found that inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time, with those decisions yielding 60% better results.
Essentially, do not treat mental health initiatives as some kind of 'flavour of the month' trend. It's not something to be violently forced upon your staff. These programs need to be implemented for the right reasons, with the mindset of transforming your workplace rather than ticking a box on a health and safety report.
It's a journey - but it's one worthwhile.
How WSPS can help