SUMMARY: Supporting Employee Success is a tool that helps inform the development of an effective workplace plan between the employer and employee. It can be used on its own, or as part of an existing approach to support an employee’s accommodation need. It includes 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.

A tool to help employees be successful at work

Supporting Employee Success provides a step-by-step process to:

  • Assess stressors related to psychological, emotional, cognitive, and physical issues at work
  • Develop strategies that may best support employee success
  • Help maintain a safe and productive workplace

Not a medical process

This entire process focuses on workplace function and issues, and respects confidentiality by not requiring medical information. The conversation is around abilities and strategies that support work success rather than diagnosis or symptoms.

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

  1. The workplace is committed to supporting employee success through an ongoing collaborative process.
  2. The employee wants to stay at work/return to work and will strive to do the job with necessary supports 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.

Download the fillable booklet

The fillable areas of the booklet assist both the employer and the employee (with help from a trusted advisor such as a doctor, therapist or friend) to develop accommodations or solutions related to workplace function and issues.

Part 1: Job expectations

The employer chooses the relevant job expectations and comments on how these relate to the job.

The employee comments on their current abilities related to the relevant job expectations and can collaborate with a trusted advisor that they choose, to review suggested solutions to help support their success.

A panel of occupational health professionals and researchers from the Institute of Work and Health helped to determine job expectations that may be relevant, such as:

  1. Adaptability and flexibility – The ability to work effectively in the midst of changing needs, conditions and work responsibilities.
  2. Attention to detail - The ability to perform work tasks that require significant attention or understanding.
  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, including working remotely or when a supervisor is not available.
  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.
  7. Exposure to distractions - The ability to work effectively in the presence of visual, auditory or other distractions.
  8. Tolerance of stressful environments - The ability to work effectively in a stressful environment, which may be caused by workplace processes or physical hazards such as noise, lighting, scents, chemicals and others.
  9. Exposure to distressed people - The ability to work effectively when exposed to emotionally individuals in person or over the phone, or other communication channels such as social media.
  10. Overlapping tasks - The ability to perform and/or monitor more than one task or function at a time, and identify when tasks or functions require attention.
  11. Problem solving and analysis - The ability to work effectively at solving problems and analyzing situations and information.
  12. Recall - The ability to recall and retrieve, on demand, information that has been previously learned.
  13. Time pressures - The ability to complete tasks within a given time period, work quickly when required, and/or manage time effectively so that all tasks are completed on time and at an acceptable level of quality.
  14. Working relationships - The ability to work well, collaborate, and cooperate with all stakeholders, including management, co-workers, or clients.
  15. Physical demands - The ability to safely and effectively meet the physical demands of the job.
  16. Work endurance - The ability to effectively perform work tasks for a long period of time with little opportunity for breaks due to the nature of the work being performed. This also includes the ability to work regular, rotating, overnight or on-call shifts.
  17. Degree of isolation - The ability to work effectively without regular contact with others. This could include interacting primarily through technology or infrequently, if ever, coming together face-to-face.
  18. Other - Blank template to add other job expectations not found above.

Part 2: Workplace supports - The employer lists existing organizational resources and initiatives that support the psychological health and safety of employees. A job description is also requested.

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 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.

Other: Information to support the employee in responding to co-worker questions as well as a sample letters are also provided.

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 or use it yourself to address the psychological, emotional, cognitive, and physical work expectations. It is ideal that the process is introduced to all employees and worker representatives (union reps) in advance of the need to use it. This helps reduce stigma or concern about the process at the time of need.

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 Institute for Work and Health, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Human Resources Professionals Association, Donna Hardaker, Stéphane Grenier, and Judy Kerling for their valuable feedback.

Additional Resources

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).