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One Step at a Time:
Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

by Stéphanie Caron-Roy ASEBP | August 3 2017

As I take a leisurely stroll outside, enjoying the beautiful Calgary weather, it reminds me how much I adore the summer months. Not only does summer allow me to play tennis, go for bike rides and relax on a patio, it also allows me the time to reflect on the last school year. It’s so great to hear and see all of the amazing work happening throughout the province, focusing on building safe and caring environments, increasing engagement and supporting positive mental health for all members of the school community. Reflecting on the past can also help plan for the future. Here are a few ideas and resources that can support psychologically safe work environments for the school year ahead.  

Taking the Next Steps

Workplaces can play a key role in maintaining positive mental health and preventing psychological harm for its employees. Since 2013, when a voluntary set of guidelines—the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace—was created, discussions around psychological health and safety in the workplace grew in number. Since then, many resources and tools have been created to support the standard. Within the past year, many people and organizations are using these resources to implement the standards in their organization—something definitely worth celebrating!

Team Successes

There are many studies supporting workplaces in taking a positive approach to psychological health and safety. One that stood out to me recently was about a study Google conducted on 180 of their teams. They noticed that the most successful teams shared five traits and psychological safety was identified on that list. Based on the handbook, Assembling the Pieces, developed jointly by the Canadian Standards Association and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, “workplaces with a positive approach to psychological health and safety…are better able to recruit and retain talented workers, have improved worker engagement, enhanced productivity, are more creative and innovative and have higher profit levels.” 

The Ingredients

Although there are many factors that make up an individual’s psychological health, the National Standard recognizes 13 factors that affect psychological health and safety in the workplace:

  1. Psychological support
  2. Organizational culture
  3. Clear leadership and expectations
  4. Civility and respect
  5. Psychological job demands
  6. Growth and development
  7. Recognition and reward
  8. Involvement and influence
  9. Workload management
  10. Engagement
  11. Work-life balance
  12. Psychological protection from violence, bullying and harassment
  13. Protection of physical safety

With growing research and supports in this area, it’s important to note that psychological health and safety is a shared responsibility between the workplace and the individual. Organizations and school jurisdictions can play a tremendous role in providing psychologically safe environments for their employees and students, which could indirectly impact other aspects of their personal lives. It’s important that we recognize that the workplace can be a part of the solution in breaking down these walls. How do you and your team work towards creating a psychologically healthy and safe workplace?

Stéphanie Caron-Roy

As a Registered Dietitian and a former ASEBP workplace wellness liaison, Stéphanie enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and believes healthy eating is all about balance. In fact, she’s as good on her feet as she is with her food. With her bilingual superpowers, Stéphanie’s favourite moniker, “The Frenchie,” seems absolutely appropriate.