The Mental Health Commission of Canada Standard lists the following factors as critical to an organization’s mental health and psychological safety.
Organizations wishing to adopt the standard should use these topics as a roadmap for continuous improvement, thus making a positive contribution to worker health and morale while improving the company’s productivity.
Organizational culture—recognize that the workplace is comprised of people with unique values, opinions and culture. An atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect for one another’s beliefs should be fostered, one that embraces trust, honesty and fairness.
Psychological and social support—organizations should clearly state their commitment to worker mental health, provide assistance to those in need, and develop a process for intervention where necessary.
Clear leadership and expectations—employees look to management for guidance at work, and mental health is no exception. Good leadership means demonstrating compassion and respect for others, together with a policy of open communication of employee performance and expectations.
Civility and respect—customers, suppliers, workers and management all deserve fair treatment and consideration. Where conflicts arise, organizations should have a process that addresses inappropriate behaviour while assuring esteem and civility to all concerned.
Psychological demands—just as there are guidelines for ear and eye protection, so too should a workplace’s psychological demands be studied, documented and understood. “Lifting a heavy load” applies to far more than shipping boxes and machine tooling. It’s an employer’s responsibility to safeguard workers against physical and mental injury.
Growth and development—continuous learning, goal setting and a sense of achievement are key to anyone’s sense of well being. Employees should receive encouragement when goals are met, and constructive support when help is needed.
Recognition and reward—workers need more than a decent paycheck and the hope of an “Employee of the Month” parking spot. It is only by publicly recognizing an employee’s accomplishments that managers can expect additional workplace contributions and improvements in the future.
Involvement and influence—not everyone can be part of management meetings, but the topics and results of those meetings, as well as corporate goals and ideals, should be openly communicated throughout all levels of the organization.
Workload management—as part of a team, everyone has to “burn the midnight oil” now and then. But employers who regularly ask too much from the team, or who don’t provide the tools necessary to do one’s job, can expect negative results from their workers.
Engagement—when you spend the lion’s share of your adult life at work, it’s important to feel as though you are a part of something important. When employees are just “punching the clock” and are not actively engaged in company goals, productivity and quality will suffer, as will mental health.
Balance—work is important, but one’s home life and social activities are even more so. It’s only through a healthy work/life balance that each of us can avoid the blues and maintain internal harmony. Take your vacation days, remember that work should be left at work, and seek help when feeling overwhelmed.
Psychological protection—emotional well-being should be assured at work, and that means bullying and discrimination will not be tolerated. Stress must be kept to manageable levels, and employees should never have to feel stigmatized when raising mental health concerns at work.
Protection of physical safety—good mental health cannot be achieved when employees are worried about their physical health. Workers and management alike must participate in workplace safety and deal with environmental issues in a timely manner.