Canadian HR Reporter

February 23, 2015

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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Canadian HR RepoRteR February 23, 2015 2 News Recent stories posted on Check the website daily for quick news hits from across Canada and around the world. web O n t h e Across cANAdA Baird's departure may reflect common triggers for job change, career coaches say number of common triggers lead to career change in mid-life, mid-career Kenney says Nova Scotia needs to retain young workers, not lose them to the West province should tap into resources that would lead to jobs at home, he says Universities want Quebec to make it easier to hire foreign, high-skilled talent Say complex, points-based immigration system a disadvantage Canada adds 35,400 jobs in January Jobless rate falls to 6.6 per cent Suncor sees construction costs coming down in the oilsands as activity slows High-quality workers now easier to recruit: Reports Kenney says changes to Alberta's TFWP not exemptions But union says government caving into pressure from employers ArouNd the world After years of weak wage growth, strong U.S. hiring appears to be spilling over into pay average hourly wage jumped 0.5 per cent between december and January Advocacy group sues Pentagon for data on service academies' recruiting, gender targets Women make up less than 25 per cent of students at pentagon service academies U.S. sees strong job growth, wage rebound in January non-farm payrolls increase 257,000 in January Profits, productivity and the pursuit of happiness pay not the main driver of employee engagement Deflation alarms ring louder as EU, Chinese factories struggle Signs are better in Britain, Japan, South Korea and india How the cloud will interrupt business technology Mike Walsh, one of the keynote speakers at the HRpa conference, gives his thoughts on the workplace impact of the cloud. Featured Video Manager relationships key to mentally healthy workplace But obstacles include stress, self-stigma, find surveys By SaRaH doBSon nearly Four in 10 workers (38 per cent) said they would not tell their manager if they had a mental health problem, accord- ing to a survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. "ey're afraid for their careers, they're afraid they're going to lose friends, and then there's a large proportion that think it's going away so they can handle it and they don't need help," said Caro- lyn Dewa, head of CAMH's Cen- tre for Research on Employment and Workplace Health. "ere was a proportion who said they wouldn't tell because other people had had bad experi- ences so part of it is their organi- zational context." For those who would reveal they had a problem, a positive relationship with their manager was the key reason, found the survey of 2,219 working adults in Ontario. "It's more than just when things are bad because you have a health problem, I think it's the everyday management relationship, and then its relationships with co- workers. So it's how the team has been built and is managed as well that affects it," said Dewa. "It's a very social thing, work is, so (it's about) the manager being able to manage co-workers and their expectations and helping them understand, 'No, we're not playing favourites, we're being supportive because at some point, everybody is going to need sup- port — maybe not for the same reason, but they'll need support.'" Adrian Wall has always tried to have an open-door policy when it comes to employees with men- tal health issues. An Aboriginal Affairs advisor at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Kamloops, B.C., he feels it's critical for em- ployers and employees to have open discussions about problems at work or outside of work. "I try to follow through with some good, positive actions to basically put some emphasis be- hind those requests (so) they're not just a discussion, and then also encourage others to have those discussions amongst themselves and take that practice broader than just my area of influence." Supportive organizational poli- cies were another factor influenc- ing employees' decision to come forward. "There's policies and proce- dures, so understanding what the company is saying and the com- pany's policies and philosophy is important as well," said Dewa. Employees may also be con- cerned about revealing their problems because of the percep- tions of co-workers. Almost two- thirds (64 per cent) of the CAMH respondents said they'd be con- cerned if a worker had a mental illness and more than four in 10 indicated concerns about both reliability and safety. "Part of that is (ignorance) and part of it is when you look at the media, the stories that do come up about mental illness are scary, and those are the rare events," said Dewa. Many suffering Mental illness is a major work- place issue that shouldn't be ig- nored, according to a survey by Morneau Shepell that found one- third of Canadian employees are suffering or have suffered from a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety disorders. "Some symptoms of mental health conditions actually mimic and co-exist with physical health, so I think in the past we've re- ally sort of under-recognized the impact on the population in general and the prevalence in the workplace," said Paula Allen, vice- president of research and integra- tive solutions at Morneau Shepell in Toronto. A further 27 per cent of em- ployees said they are experiencing significant symptoms of stress, found the survey of 1,005 em- ployees, 117 physicians and 100 employers. And that stress has an impact: Almost one-half (45 per cent) of employees said they have thought about leaving their job because of stress, while 31 per cent have taken time off work and one-quarter have become ill in the last six months. Stress is one of the leading is- sues around mental health in the workplace, said Wall. "I notice a lot more challenges that people have at home, trying to balance the financial end of people's own lives — paying for mortgages, daycare is huge now — so those are things that I didn't see 20 years ago. I didn't see the same level as I do today. "So I notice that employees are having to come to terms with how to address so many stressors outside the work environment, initially, and that's not even ad- dressing what happens within the workplace." Not surprisingly, stigma is a challenge — one in five employees (19 per cent) believes that whether someone becomes mentally ill is fully within his control (compared to 12 per cent of employers). A lot of these attitudes are based on unfounded beliefs, said Allen, such as viewing a disability leave as a vacation. "No, it's quite unpleasant to be separated from your workplace, have less money, be concerned about taking a break in your ca- reer," she said. "So the way the em- ployer can really help is to directly address those unfounded beliefs — stigma doesn't go away unless you have knowledge." Managers also play a role in set- ting the tone and setting expecta- tions, said Allen. "If a manager hears concerns about somebody returning to work — 'Are they going to be able to pull their weight?' — all these negative tones, if the man- ager says, 'No, the person was off work, of course they had dif- ficulty being off work, they were feeling ill, that's why they needed to take time off work, we are go- ing to allow this person to have a fresh start. I would do that for any of you.' It completely changes the conversation." Self-stigma a challenge But it's not just about what others think — two-thirds (65 per cent) of employees cited self-stigma in the Morneau Shepell survey. It's a very distinct concept that can make the situation worse, said Allen. "ere's concepts of self-stigma where people have lower self- worth because of a label such as an illness or a condition or being a part of a group where they feel badly about themselves as a result of a bad issue being attached to them," she said. "It can co-exist within the same person — not having stigma about someone else, being enlightened and not having discriminatory be- haviour, but still feeling differently about your own self." ese people are among the three in 10 in the CAMH survey who won't reveal their mental ill- ness because they feel it won't af- fect their work, said Dewa. "That's people thinking that they're flying under the radar and… that's part of the self-stig- ma: 'I don't need help, I'm OK, I can do this if I'm just strong enough.'" Furthering the issue are the 53 per cent of respondents who cit- ed concerns of stigma from their physicians in the Morneau She- pell survey. at may be linked to the fact they're authority figures, said Allen. "People tend to want to look good in front of people who are authority figures; however, if they feel that the physician is going to think more negatively of them, judge them more harshly because of a mental health condition ver- sus if they approach the physician for support on a physical condi- tion, it's pretty clear that that's go- ing to impact people's willingness to get care as well," she said. "And when you're with the phy- sician, you're probably not going to be as honest as you should be, so it's a huge, huge issue that we've uncovered and something that needs to be addressed directly." When polled, almost every physician respondent indicated work plays a role in the mental health issues they see on a regu- lar basis. And when asked what employers could do to foster psy- chologically healthy workplaces, the number one recommenda- tion among physicians was bet- ter workplace communication and social support, followed by counselling and guidance, found Morneau Shepell. ese two factors were con- sidered more important than re- duced workload or time off work. "It was a little surprising to us because you hear a lot about phy- sicians saying that people should take time off work or physicians giving unrealistic recommenda- tions about how people should have a stress-free work environ- ment — that was not what they were saying," said Allen. "It's pretty well-known that how you communicate can make a situation seem more difficult or seem more positive, so for work- place communication, (physi- cians) had recommendations around conflict management, ad- dressing interpersonal difficulties, training your managers — making sure that the workplace actually really didn't… cause harm." Bell Canada celebrated its annual "Let's Talk" day on January 28th. But there are still many obstacles when it comes to mental health in the workplace.

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