We spend a significant amount of time at our places of work. It’s important to ensure that these spaces are safe, supportive and do not negatively affect an individual’s mental health.

According to Bell Let’s Talk, mental health is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada, representing 15% of Canada’s burden of disease. The World Health Organization states that the global economy loses $1 trillion per year in productivity due to depression and anxiety. Many aspects of our lives influence our mental health, and the workplace is often a contributing factor.

How to Help

As an employer, there are steps you can take to ensure a positive workplace:

  1. Educate your staff about mental health. The more aware your team is about mental health, the more they will be able to support each other and battle the stigma. Encourage a supportive dialogue around mental health to help those who may be suffering feel comfortable at work.
  2. Ensure work-life balance. This could include:
    • Redistributing workload from overwhelmed employees
    • Reducing job-related travel
    • Providing flexible hours or work-from-home arrangements
  3. Strive to eliminate workplace harassment. Workplace harassment can be a contributing factor to mental health issues in the workplace. It’s important to define clear expectations of all employees when it comes to their treatment of one another. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety highlights a few steps you can take, including:
    • Defining what you mean by workplace bullying (or harassment, or violence) in precise, concrete language.
    • Providing clear examples of unacceptable behaviour and working conditions.
    • Stating in clear terms your organization’s view toward workplace bullying and its commitment to its prevention.
    • Precisely stating the consequences of making threats or committing acts.
    • Outlining the process by which preventive measures will be developed.
    • Encouraging the reporting of all incidents of bullying or other forms of workplace violence.
    • Outlining the confidential process by which employees can report incidents and to whom.
    • Making a commitment to provide support services to victims.

Benefits

When you focus on creating a positive work environment, both the employees and the company benefit. You will see:

  • Improved retention and recruitment, employee engagement, morale, job satisfaction and productivity
  • Reduced absenteeism, grievances, health costs, medical leave/disability and workplace injuries

It’s your responsibility as an employer to understand how the workplace contributes to mental health and to ensure you foster a healthy and positive environment. This requires an ongoing commitment to support and care for your team, and that you continually adapt to the changing needs of your employees.

Additional Resources for Employers

There are many resources to guide you in building a work environment that people will love. The following are provided by the Government of Canada: