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Is your organization a psychologically safe workplace? Should it be? Will it soon have to be?

Judy Gerstel has a small story on how psychologically safe workplaces maybe a thing of the very near future.

“The answer will come some time after Nov. 7.

That’s when the Mental Health Commission of Canada is expected to introduce the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

The draft of the standard released last January suggested that in the psychologically safe workplace, ‘self-esteem needs are met’ and ‘workers feel rewarded in terms of praise, recognition and acknowledgment of and credit for their contributions.’

Risks to psychological health include a situation ‘where work is distributed inequitably.'”

This probably sounds kind of new age to a for-profit professional, but nonprofits have been on the leading edge of this movement internationally not just in Canada. Why?

The primary reason is that mental health and mental health issues are rapidly losing their social stigma. And in most workplaces short-term disability accounts for the majority of absences and mental illness accounts for 30 percent of short-term disability and 70 percent of the costs.

The main question for the HR profession is will we lead or follow on this issue?

A recent Ipsos Reid poll found that 84 percent of Canadians now say that supporting co-workers with mental health problems is part of their own jobs. However, the survey also indicates that the leadership of the human resources profession is sadly lacking. Employees off work due to mental illness struggle with bureaucratic HR rules, case management practices ill-suited to the nature of their illness, little or no practical information to help them cope, and a chilly lack of compassion and flexibility.

Per Gerstel’s aricle, employers should audit their HR practices, perceptions and attitude toward mental illness among their HR people to root out these hurtful behaviors.

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