Employee Health: There is an immediate and unprecedented call to action for leaders to be stewards of the organization’s culture and the provision of a psychologically safe and healthy workplace

There is strong evidence based research that certain features of the workplace can affect employees’ mental and physical health. Workplace risk factors increase the likelihood that an individual will experience increased physical and mental stress, which in turn increases the likelihood of developing or worsening a mental health problem. Mental health problems are expected to be the source of more than 50% of all disability claims administered over the next five years, exceeding even heart disease.

Modern organizations are dynamic and complex, made up of people with increasingly diverse backgrounds, opinions, values and expectations about work.  Organizations are learning “When it affects their business, it is their responsibility.” Bill C45 takes it even further. Bill C-45 is federal legislation that became law on March 31, 2004. It established new legal duties for workplace health and safety; imposed serious penalties for violations resulting in injuries or death; and provided new rules for attributing criminal liability to organizations, including corporations, their representatives and those who direct the work of others. 

Mental health problems are the fastest-rising cause of short- and long-term disabilities, with costs borne by private and public sector insurance, employers and taxpayers. 

In his Twenty-Third Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada, April 2016, the Clerk Of Privy Council stated “To do their best for Canadians, public servants need to work in a healthy environment that is characterized by respect, that embraces differences and diversity, and that supports with compassion individuals struggling with mental health challenges. This is the right thing to do for our employees and for Canadians, who expect us to act responsibly as the largest employer in Canada.,” 

There is an immediate and unprecedented call to action for leaders to be stewards of the organization’s culture and the provision of a psychologically safe and healthy workplace. For the first time, between 2015 and 2016, all deputy ministers and executives in the Public Service were required to take action on this priority area as part of their performance agreements. 

Anyone can have a mental injury. Everyone deserves a workplace health and safety response that provides trust, hope, care and healing.