Canadian HR Reporter

November 2019 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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Page 21 of 23

CANADIAN HR REPORTER NOVEMBER 2019 22 INSIGHT Do I really have to talk about it? I t may not come as a surprise to many that a lot of people don't want to talk about their mental health at work. at's coming from the cover story by John Dujay, which looks at a recent survey on the topic. e big revelation? ree-quar- ters of workers say they would either be reluctant to admit (48 per cent) or would not admit (27 per cent) to a boss or co-worker that they were suffering from a mental illness. e top reasons given? Public stigma (45 per cent), not wanting to be treated differently (44 per cent) or judged (40 per cent) and fear of negative consequences, such as losing their job (36 per cent), found the RBC survey of 1,501 Canadians. This will take years, if not gen- erations, to overcome, says El- len Choi, assistant professor at the Ted Rogers School of Man- agement Ryerson University in Toronto. "When you think about how reluctant people are even to re- port their own errors at work, then to reveal something so vul- nerable and so deeply intimate and part of your own identity and character, I think we're asking a lot of people," she says. I think that's a big part of the problem with workplace initia- tives that focus on mental health. ey want people to talk. ey want people to disclose very pri- vate issues. While I know we've made strides in establishing that men- tal health issues are just as im- portant as physical health issues, that doesn't mean people want to reveal their mental health issues any more than their physical ones. If I have a bad headache or men- strual pain or I pulled a muscle, I might confide in a close colleague or two, but that's the extent of it — it's personal, I'm at work, I'd pre- fer not to divulge those kinds of private details, I'm there to work. So, when it comes to mental health, I can only think that would be even harder to share with a col- league or supervisor. Unless they are also a close friend, I'd imagine it would be incredibly difficult to admit you're suffering from de- pression or anxiety, for example. Maybe I'm more private than some, but those are very personal issues that I might not even share with my family or friends. at's not to say they should be kept secluded, but I'd be more likely to talk to a professional or close friend than a work colleague. I have close friends who took quite a while to tell me they were taking anti-depressants. I have one close friend who admitted her spouse suffers from obses- sive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression, but she doesn't want anyone to know. And I understand that. Mental health can be a very personal is- sue. So, I'm not sure why it's as- sumed that people at work would be more than willing to speak up about their problems. Of course, there's also the stig- ma, the preconceptions people have about mental illness and how it manifests and impacts a worker. Fear of the unknown and saying the wrong thing can make people act uncomfortably when con- fronted with someone behaving differently than what's expected. And then there's the concern on the professional side, with people afraid to disclose their predica- ment at work for fear of dismissal or retaliation of some kind. Wellness programs in the workplace focused on mental health are doing a great job of building awareness of mental ill- ness in terms of what's involved and how it can have an impact — whether professionally, person- ally or financially. These programs also encour- age workers to celebrate differ- ences, to understand the impact of mental illness, provide support and encouragement and not be afraid to step in if they see some- one in need. That all sounds great and makes sense — but the big hurdle is getting people to talk. Especially the people who need to talk. It's easy to wear a colour- ful sticker that says, "I'm feeling grumpy" one day of the year. It's pretty hard to wear one that says, "I don't feel like I have anything to look forward to" every day of the year — the one just doesn't equate to the other. I understand the whole idea is to make people comfortable revealing their emotional state and to combat the stigma, but it's hard to get past that line between professional and personal. While not ideal, a lot of people suffering from mental illness would prefer to tackle it in their own way, on their own time and not be expected to confess their fears and concerns to HR or a supervisor. People know it's always best to get things off your chest. at's ev- ident in the RBC survey, where 75 per cent of respondents said not disclosing they have a mental ill- ness would have a negative impact on their personal well-being and 66 per cent said it would have a negative impact on their relation- ships with family (66 per cent), productivity at work (65 per cent), relationships with friends (64 per cent) and relationships with co- workers (64 per cent). But how many surveys ask people if they'd prefer to keep both their physical and mental health issues private — not be- cause they're ashamed or they fear repercussions, but just be- cause it's private? JUDGMENTAL JUDGE CALGARY – A judge with the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench is under fire from medical and le- gal experts over comments about a Nigerian medical examiner. Jus- tice Terry Clarkson presided over the trial of parents charged with failing to provide the necessities of life leading to the death of their infant son. In his written decision, Clarkson criticized Bamidele Ad- eagbo, the medical examiner in the case, for his difficulty in com- municating with the court in his testimony — allegedly mocking the manner of Adeagbo's speech, accent and body language — and ultimately dismissing his testi- mony in favour of an expert wit- ness for the defence. Forty-two doctors and lawyers from across Canada filed a letter of complaint with the Canadian Judicial Coun- cil over the comments that "lack a judicial mien, and which some may perceive as racism." Darryl Ruether, executive legal counsel for Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench, told the Canadian Press that Clarkson will continue to sit on the bench while the complaint is investigated. RESISTANCE TO ROBOTS LONDON — A study by De Montfort University in Leicester, U.K. that looked into the use of robotics in health care concluded that U.K. workers are more resis- tant to the implementation of machines in the workplace than workers in other countries. e study reported that businesses in the U.K. are less likely to fully explain to employees why they are using robots, which can lead to more resentment — fuelled by workers seeing others replaced by robots, such as self-checkouts in supermarkets. This in turn makes the use of robots less cost- effective when implementation doesn't go smoothly, according to the study. In some instances, re- sentment manifested in sabotage and attempts to confuse robots, found the study. Another report by Oxford Economics estimated that 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost to robots worldwide, with about 400,000 of those in Europe. e report also projected that 20 million people will have been replaced by the machines in the workplace by 2030. DANGEROUS RHETORIC LONDON — U.K. police chiefs are concerned that Prime Min- ister Boris Johnson's language is making the ramp-up toward a divisive general election more dangerous for politicians, accord- ing to an anonymous source close to the matter. Johnson has been criticized by female MPs over using terms such as "surrender" and "betray" when talking about Brexit, according to Bloomberg. e same terms have been used in death threats against the MPs, they said. Security for MPs is be- ing increased, but police chiefs are worried about candidates' safety when they go door to door and make public appearances during the election campaign. Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who quit cabinet in protest over Johnson's Brexit strategy, said the prime minister's rhetoric is pro- vocative. Johnson denied his lan- guage has fuelled threats against MPs and said he won't be bullied into changing the words he uses. PIGEON MAKES POINT CHICAGO — There is a par- ticular stop on Chicago's elevated train system known as "pigeon poop station" due to the mess created by the birds around the station, including sidewalks cov- ered in bird waste and feathers, according to the Associated Press. And it seems like the winged denizens of the Irving Park Blue Line station don't want things to change. Democratic state repre- sentative Jaime Andrade was dis- cussing the pigeon problem and possible solutions — including a hose line for power washing — with a television reporter at the station when a pigeon swooped overhead and hit Andrade with the very substance he was trying to clean up. "I think they just got me," said Andrade during the in- terview, rubbing his head. BABY'S LESSON PLAN LAWRENCEVILLE, Georgia — An assistant professor of biology at Georgia Gwinnett College lent a helping hand to a student with a child-care predicament and received an unexpected teaching prop in turn, according to CNN. A student of Ramata Sissoko Cissé's anatomy and physiology class had to bring her baby to class due to an ill babysitter, but when the restless baby made it difficult to take notes, Cissé held the baby herself while lecturing. When Cissé needed to write on the classroom's whiteboard, she tied the baby to her back in an improvised pouch made from a lab coat, where it slept quietly for most of the period. Cissé took the op- portunity to explain elements of the nervous system, brain function and metabolism in demonstrating the baby's ability to relax next to her warm body and the effects of feeding it warm milk. Credit: Gelpi (Shutterstock) W EIRD ORKPLACE THE Vol. 32 No. 11 – November 2019 PUBLISHED BY HAB Press Limited, a subsidiary of Key Media 20 Duncan St. 3rd Floor, Toronto, ON M5H 3G8 ©Copyright 2019 by HAB Press Ltd. All rights reserved. KEY MEDIA and the KEY MEDIA logo are trademarks of Key Media IP Limited, and used under license by HAB Press Limited. CANADIAN HR REPORTER is a trademark of HAB Press Limited. CANADIAN HR REPORTER is published 12 times a year. Publications Mail – Agreement # 41261516 Registration # 9496 – ISSN 0838-228X President: Tim Duce EDITORIAL Editor/Supervisor: Sarah Dobson - (416) 644-8740 ext. 330 Employment Law Editor: Jeffrey R. Smith - (416) 644-8740 ext. 319 Labour Relations News Editor: John Dujay - (416) 644-8740 ext. 321 Copy Editor: Patricia Cancilla Web/IT Co-ordinator: Mina Patel - (416) 644-8740 ext. 324 ADVERTISING Head of Media Sales, Media Solutions: Paul Burton - (416) 644-8740 ext. 325 Business Development Manager Fred Crossley (416) 644-8740 ext. 236 MARKETING AND CIRCULATION Subscriptions and Circulation Manager: Keith Fulford - (416) 644-8740 ext. 329 PRODUCTION Art Director: Steve Maver SUBSCRIPTIONS Annual subscription: $175 (plus tax) GST/HST#: 70318 4911 RT0001 To subscribe, visit Address changes and returns: Send changes and undeliverable Canadian addresses to: 20 Duncan St. 3rd Floor, Toronto, ON M5H 3G8 SUBSCRIBER SERVICES Canadian HR Reporter One Corporate Plaza 20 Duncan St. 3rd Floor, Toronto, ON M5H 3G8 CUSTOMER SERVICE Call: (416) 609-3800 (Toronto) (800) 387-5164 (outside Toronto) Fax: (416) 298-5082 (Toronto) (877) 750-9041 (outside Toronto) Email: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CHRR reserves the right to edit for length and clarity. 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