The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard) has been downloaded well over 30,000 times since it was launched in 2013. Its objective is to prevent psychological harm to employees, by providing a framework to assess and address the psychological health and safety of their workplaces.
But is it actually making a difference?
We've come a long way since the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace (the Centre) commissioned surveys on psychological health and safety in both 2009 and 2012. The surveys provided a snapshot of Canadian workplaces. In the 2009 survey, 19% of Canadian employees felt their workplaces where not psychologically safe, while in 2012, 14% of employees disagreed that their workplace was psychologically safe. In late 2016 another survey was conducted using the same measures. To get the results of the latest survey and other news, sign up for the Centre's email newsletter.
Implementation of the Standard mirrors occupational health and safety initiatives that are part of a journey of continual improvement. Such a journey is never complete, but the changes are measureable, at least in part. What cannot be measured accurately are the improvements in the lives of employees because of the stress or injuries that were prevented from occurring. Whether we are talking about a falling ladder or bullying, long-term effects from an unsafe workplace can wreak havoc in employees' lives.
Some early adopters of the Standard have also shared one element that facilitated their success in improving psychological health and safety was the support of champions and leaders in their workplaces. The Standard is also helping to change management strategy and create more positive organizational cultures.
These are not the only organizations that are making positive changes. Unions, businesses, and governments across the country are using the Standard to guide change. There is no single prescribed approach and that's OK. The introduction to the Standard states: "This voluntary Standard has been developed to help organizations strive towards this vision as part of an ongoing process of continual improvement." It needs to work with the way unique organizations operate and it needs to be adapted to evolving workplace demands and limitations.
So on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, we can say definitively that it has made a positive difference in some Canadian workplaces. We have a long way to go, but we now have a Standard for continual improvement that will help light the way.
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You'll find information about developing a psychological health and safety management system to help implement the Standard, articles that feature insights from early adopters and other help to get started.