SUMMARY: A 3-year national research study has been undertaken by the Mental Health Commission of Canada to determine how Canadian employers are using the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. Results will help identify promising practices, formulate programs, and develop educational tools and processes to help more organizations adopt the Standard and to promote mentally healthy workplaces overall.

Join the conversation as we share questions and ideas from our participants and expert panel. Visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) website for more information about the Case Study Research Project.

Working together to support success

September 2015

Employers, employees and healthcare providers being on the same page to support an employee in need of a workplace accommodation is beneficial.

Supporting Employee Success is a free booklet, developed with help from experts by the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, that provides guided instructions for the employer, employee and healthcare provider to collaborate on accommodation and return to work strategies. It literally helps keep everyone on the same page.

The fillable Supporting Employee Success booklet (PDF) outlines a process that:

  • Helps assess work-related triggers for emotional or cognitive issues
  • Supports a thoughtful approach to finding accommodations that may best support success for the employee
  • Facilitates an employee’s well-being while meeting the requirement for a safe and productive workplace.

Supporting Employee Success avoids discussion about diagnosis or symptoms. Instead, the tool focuses on work behaviours and abilities, making it relevant for any employee. While it is ideal for situations when mental health issues need to be taken into account, it can also be an effective resource for new employee orientation or to support performance success for all employees.

A central aspect of the tool is to provide a framework to discuss how an employee can be supported to meet job expectations. The worksheets include job expectations such as as attention to detail and working relationships, as well as others that are known to be particularly relevant when mental health may be a factor.

Setting measurable and achievable expectations helps those involved in the process better understand how and what support can be provided, what’s expected in terms of productivity and performance, and how to respond should issues occur in the future.

Users of the tool have provided insight on the various ways Supporting Employee Success can be used to support accommodation and return to work success. Their observations include:

  • Helping to reduce anxiety about returning to work after an absence for any reason
  • Supporting performance when an employee is going through a difficult time
  • Revising an existing accommodation plan to improve effectiveness, or after changes have occurred in the workplace
  • Measuring progress of both the manager and the employee throughout the return-to-work and accommodation process
  • Providing documentation of what was agreed upon, which can be valuable if there’s a breakdown in the process
  • Promoting the ability for union and management to work together for the benefit of the employee, using a pre-determined approach upon which they can both agree
  • Demonstrating the employer’s willingness to be supportive of employees who may be experiencing a mental illness or other disability. This can help show alignment with human rights requirements.

Finally, Supporting Employee Success helps create a standard process that guides all parties on non-discriminatory, non-stigmatizing language that can be used in situations involving mental health and mental illness. The language focuses on workplace issues rather than on medical issues. Through the use of this tool, all parties can build awareness of mental health related workplace issues and increase the comfort level in supporting employee success. The tool even provides suggested wording to help employees if they feel the need to talk to their co-workers about their absence from work.

Additional reading

Bringing healthcare, employers and employees together – supporting employee success – Article, republished courtesy of Moods Magazine, provides an overview of the development of Supporting Employee Success.