SUMMARY: Supporting Employee Success provides a process for the employer, employee and healthcare professional to use when an employee requires accommodation.

Supporting Employee Success is a tool that provides a step-by-step process to:

  • Assess work-related triggers for emotional or cognitive issues
  • Develop accommodations that may best support employee success  
  • Facilitate the employee’s well-being
  • Help maintain a safe and productive workplace

This process focuses on work-related issues rather than medical information and is recommended as:

  1. An accommodation plan for an employee who remains at work.
  2. An accommodation plan for an employee who is returning to work.
  3. An additional process to a plan that focuses on physical function.


Supporting Employee Success is a fillable booklet that you can download and print. You can also save it on your own computer for future use. The fillable areas of the booklet are designed to allow both the employer and the employee (with help from a healthcare or other trusted professional) to focus on developing accommodations and solutions related to workplace function and issues.

Part 1: Job expectations - There are 14 different job expectations to consider. All or some may apply to the accommodation situation you are addressing.

  1. Adaptability and flexibility - Ability to work effectively in the midst of change or rigid constraints. Adapts to changing needs conditions and work responsibilities.
  2. Attention to detail - The ability to perform work tasks that require attention to detail or concentration on detailed information.
  3. Decision making - The ability to work effectively when analyzing problems, organizing information, resolving issues or generating solutions.
  4. Degree of self-supervision - The ability to work effectively without supervision.
  5. Degree of supervisor responsibility - The ability to work effectively in the role of supervisor, respecting organizational values and policies while meeting objectives.
  6. Exposure to confrontational situations - The ability to work effectively when confronted by an individual or when encountering confrontational situations requiring the employee to take action. The confrontation may be in person or over the telephone. The employee may be encountering an individual whose behaviour is argumentative, verbally or physically aggressive or abusive, insistent, hostile, loud, threatening or disruptive.
  7. Exposure to distractions - The ability to work effectively in the presence of visual, auditory or other distractions.
  8. Exposure to emotionally stressful situations - The ability to work effectively in emotionally stressful situations or when exposed to emotionally distressed individuals in person, over the telephone, or via other communication channels such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  9. Overlapping tasks - The ability to perform and/or monitor more than one task or function at a time, and to judge when tasks or functions require attention. It involves the ability to prioritize tasks and manage time effectively.
  10. Problem solving and analysis - The ability to work effectively at solving problems and analyzing situations and information.
  11. Recall - The ability to recall and retrieve, on demand, information that has been previously learned.
  12. Time pressures - The ability to complete tasks within a given time period, the ability to work quickly when required, and/or the ability to manage time effectively so that all tasks are completed on time and at an acceptable level of quality.
  13. Working relationships - The ability to work well with others in co-operation and collaboration. This may include team projects, shared job duties, and social interactions with management and co-workers.
  14. Other - Blank template to add other job expectations not found above.

Part 2: Workplace supports - Employer lists existing organizational resources and initiatives that support the psychological health and safety of all employees.

Part 3: Employer and employee additional comments - The first section is for the employer to add information not previously covered and prioritize the areas where more information from the healthcare professional would be helpful. The second section is for the employee to state expectations not included by the employer and those areas where extra assistance may be required to complete the job successfully.

Part 4: Supporting success conversation - Questions are offered to help guide a discussion to develop an effective work plan. The discussion is based on the premise that the relevant job expectations have been completed and the employee is at work or ready to return to work.

Tips for using Supporting Employee Success

If your workplace uses disability providers or external consultants, you can share the Supporting Employee Success tool with them to address the psychological, emotional and cognitive job expectations.

It is ideal that the process is introduced to all employees and worker representatives (union reps) where applicable in advance of the need to use it. For example, at orientation of new employees and/or as general information to all employees. This helps reduce stigma or concern about the process at the time of an accommodation.

Supporting Employee Success can be initiated by:

  • The employer (human resources, occupational health, management) when an employee may require an accommodation
  • The employee who is seeking accommodation
  • A worker or union representative who is supporting an employee in an accommodation
  • A healthcare professional (physician, psychologist, occupational health professional, social worker) supporting a patient or client to stay at or return to work
  • A disability management professional or vocational rehab consultant in conjunction with a disability claim

Supporting Employee Success:

  • Can be used on its own, or as part of an existing approach, to support an employee's accommodation needs
  • Helps to explore the psychological, emotional and cognitive job expectations and develop strategies that support the employee's success on the job.
  • Lists 14 job expectations, but not all may be applicable to every accommodation situation. There may be other expectations not mentioned that may be added to the process.
  • Includes accommodation ideas specifically for psychological, emotional and cognitive concerns and does not cover other physical accommodation needs such as vision, hearing or mobility. These would be addressed separately.
  • Includes accommodation ideas intended to be no-cost or low-cost to implement. Most require a small investment of time and/or a change in communication approach.

For the overall process to be successful, a few basic tenets must exist. If they do not, the process may not be helpful, and could even make the situation worse.

The three basic tenets necessary for success are:

  1. The workplace is committed to accommodating the employee through an ongoing collaborative process.
  2. The employee wants to stay at work/return to work and will strive to do the job with accommodations that are reasonable and acceptable to both the employee and the employer.
  3. The job expectations and the needs of the employee, with regard to accomplishing the requirements of the job, are clearly understood.

Supporting Employee Success is not a Medical Process

This entire process focuses on workplace function and issues, and should not include medical information. The process must, at all times, respect medical confidentiality. Medical confidentiality means that the healthcare professional should not provide any information about the employee's medical diagnosis unless the employee specifically requests in writing (i.e. provides full written consent) that the information be provided to the employer as part of this process. The conversation should focus on abilities and ideas that may support success on the job, rather than on diagnosis or symptoms.

Supporting Employee Success was created by leading members of the occupational health community including Dr. Ian Arnold and Suzanne Arnold, PhD, with input from Dr. David Brown and Dr. David Posen. Thanks also to members of the Canadian Labour Congress, the Human Resources Professionals Association, Donna Hardaker, Stéphane Grenier and Judy Kerling for their valuable feedback.

Additional Resources

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Making Work Work
A free resource designed to enable and support discussions about how stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions affect someone at work. It is intended to aid communication, understanding and support. Provided with permission of Mindful Employer (UK).