Canadian HR Reporter

May 4, 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.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 23

CANADIAN HR REPORTER May 4, 2015 20 FEATURES EmploymentSource™ New to WestlawNext® Canada EmploymentSource is your fastest route to the employment and OH&S law you need to expertly advise clients, employers and unions. Be more effective and efficient in your research with the right mix of resources in one online research tool. EmploymentSource combines exclusive expert commentary, case law, legislation and dismissal notice periods, with functionality that is easy to use. Experience the benefits • Prepare winning dismissal litigation strategies • Defend occupational health & safety charges • Advise clients/employers regarding health and safety compliance Visit employmentsource or contact us at 1-866-609-5811 for more details 00224VB-A47772 to make sure to have people from within that can replace them." Performance management Also important is the company's performance appraisal system, Dialogue. It's a global system that looks at the how and what of a person's job, along with career as- pirations, says Alonso. "We will go and see every man- ager that has people reporting to him and we'll discuss every per- son after the Dialogue and have a career path, training, develop- ment — whatever is in there, we'll discuss it and make a plan," she says. "And the beauty is that it's a global system, so you can compare apples and apples." While the appraisals are done once a year, the dialogue contin- ues throughout the year. "If you meet your manager or you meet with your people only once a year, there's something wrong. It really needs to be set- ting the objectives in the begin- ning of the year and then, during the year, you go through them, have a dialogue with people: Are these objectives still relevant? Do you want to change it or adjust them? How is it going — not just what but how is it going?" she says. "It should be an ongoing pro- cess during the year where you meet your people ongoing and adjust to everything — and not having a surprise in November of what you're seeing." In Canada, employees actively participate in their career devel- opment and help direct their own career paths, says Bourdon. "Employees expect to have meaningful discussions with their managers and with HR as well about how to reach their ca- reer goals. So our role is to help employees identify what they want to achieve in their careers, and to (provide) the training, re- sources and tools and to make them succeed." So if someone tells their man- ager, "I want to be at this level in three years," HR will ensure — because it's reflected in Dialogue — that there are development ob- jectives identified and follow up with suggestions on what sort of training is required, externally or internally, she says. "Before, the expectation of the employees was 'Well, you're going to tell me where I'm going to go,' but now the career paths belong in their hands, so that's how we see the change over the years." 'Dialogue' ongoing JTI < pg. 19 MENTAL HEALTH Stepping in, lending a hand Workplace suicides on the rise, finds U.S. study – but employers can help By Liz Bernier S uicides in the workplace have been on the rise since 2003 — and some occupa- tions are at higher risk than oth- ers, according to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Preven- tive Medicine. "Those tend to be protective services, which include police, firefighters. The second group are those in farming, fishing and forestry occupations. And then the third group, which was a unique finding, are those in au- tomotive or maintenance and repair occupations," says Hope Tiesman, West Virginia-based research epidemiologist at the National Institute for Occupa- tional Safety and Health and the study's author. e study evaluated U.S. Bu- reau of Labor Statistics data from 2003 to 2010 and found slightly more than 1,700 people died by workplace suicide between those years. Workplace suicide rates were 15 times higher for men. "We found a bit of a discrepan- cy between the age-related find- ings. So slightly older workers, 65 to 75 years old, they were the highest suicide rate of all workers, and this was quite different from non-workplace suicides," says Tiesman. Of course, these types of sui- cides will have a significant im- pact on other employees, but so will work-related suicides that take place offsite, says Mary Ann Baynton, Toronto-based program director at the Great West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace. Prevention e workplace is well-positioned to help with suicide prevention ef- forts — and those efforts should be part of the overall health and wellness strategy, says Sally Spen- cer-omas, co-founder and CEO at the Carson J. Spencer Founda- tion in Denver, Colo. "On a safety side… suicidal be- haviours are potentially a danger for workplaces, and so risk man- agement and safety initiatives are also paying attention to this issue." ere is a direct link between the prevention efforts we can put forward in the workplace and helping connect people with the education and resources they need for mental wellness, says Tana Nash, president of the On- tario Suicide Prevention Associa- tion in Kitchener, Ont. "The workplace does have a great role to play. So, for example, just like we did with physical safe- ty in instilling CPR and first aid in the workplace… we can do the same thing (with mental health). If we actually rolled programs out through the workplace, one, we'd be making more emotion- ally sound workplaces and, at the same time, we know that those skills that we teach our employ- ees will also be translated back out into the community at large." Just as schools make sense as a venue for youth mental health ini- tiatives, workplaces make sense as a venue for mental health promo- tion and suicide prevention, says Spencer-omas. "Most working-age adults are either employed or are a fam- ily member of someone who's employed, or have been recently employed. So workplaces touch a lot of people and with the pre- vention focus, we are looking at a lot of things. We're looking at up- stream prevention, where work- places can bolster resiliency, stress management, mental health liter- acy, the things that can prevent a mental health condition or a sui- cidal crisis from occurring in the first place," she says. "e downstream prevention is, say all that happens and we still have a crisis, how do work- places respond to people in a mental health crisis, or even after a suicide?" ere are several facets of pre- vention, but they all fit into an overall approach to health and safety, says Baynton. "Implementing a psychological health and safety management system would be a huge step to- ward prevention." Best practices Suicide prevention programs don't just mean talking about sui- cide, says Nash. "(It's) also talking about what does stress look like? What does anxiety look like? What does work-life balance look like? What are some really good coping skills?" Programs can also entail learn- ing about individual risk factors, says Baynton. "(Those could include) prior suicide attempts, when someone has experienced the suicide of someone close to them; addiction and substance abuse is a risk fac- tor, as are certain mental illnesses, especially things like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder," she says. "Stigma is a risk factor when it discourages individuals from ask- ing for help." Managers and supervisors play a critical role, says Nash. "They're the leaders, they're leading the pack, so leading by action and their healthy activities and their healthy behaviours," she says. "Managers do have a really important role to play because they're kind of the holder of the purse strings. ey dictate how your day can be." It's helpful for managers to be aware of warning signs in employ- ees, such as significant changes in behaviour, depression, absentee- ism, eating or sleep disturbances, says Spencer-omas. "Verbalizations often are also cues from a suicide prevention perspective. It's rare that people will come outright and say that they're thinking of killing them- selves — it does happen, but it's not as common as what we call the veiled communications… it's things like 'Who cares if I'm here anyways,' 'Nobody cares about me,'" she says. "Trained managers and su- pervisors will not let that kind of statement pass without lean- ing in and saying 'What do you mean?' or 'Tell me more' or 'Is there something going on that I can support you with?'" Human resources also has a key role to play in terms of train- ing and implementing tools such as the National Standard of Can- ada for Psychological Health and Safety and the Working Minds program, says Nash. "Let's just start right at the be- ginning and say, 'OK, does stigma exist within the HR department?' And to address that and to address our own comfort levels around 'Where are we as an HR depart- ment... do we need training?'" ere are a couple of key things that can make a dramatic differ- ence toward prevention, says Spencer-omas. "e two things that are really protective for people in a mental health crisis, and with suicide in particular, are a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose." "Stigma is a risk factor in discouraging individuals from asking for help."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian HR Reporter - May 4, 2015