A tool to support employee success

A process that engages an employee and employer to develop solutions that support productivity and well-being. Supporting employee success is for any employee, including those needing accommodation.

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Supporting employee success | PDF 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 step by step process

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:

  • The workplace is committed to supporting employee success through an ongoing collaborative process.
  • 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.
  • 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 | PDF

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.

Booklet outline

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: 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.

This conversation is much easier when there is a level of trust. Building trust for leaders can help. 

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.

Sample letter to a healthcare professional

Here’s an example of a template you can use to request information from a healthcare professional.

[Employer’s name] is interested in helping ensure our employees are able to have a successful return-to-work experience.

To help in achieving a successful return to work, we need your assessment of your patient’s capabilities.

With the focus on capabilities, rather than on limitations, we can achieve reasonable accommodation. This knowledge will help us to identify and manage potential gaps between the job expectations and the employee’s capacity.

Our employee, [insert name], will meet in consultation with you to determine those job aspects that may affect their health. [Insert name] will give you a booklet that provides information describing the job expectations and current workplace realities. [Insert name] may have already completed their current abilities section or may wish to complete this with you.

We ask you to fill in the Potential solutions while in discussion with [insert name]. Together, these documents will provide us with valuable, non-medical information that can help us develop a workplace plan to support their success.

As a result of this consultation, we will use your recommendations to help the employee develop a workplace plan.

[Employer’s name] recognizes this is a time-consuming request and will pay you [insert amount] for review and completion of the forms. Please send your invoice for this amount to: [insert name and address and/or email address].

Thank you in advance for your help with enhancing [insert employee’s name] return-to-work experience.


Contributors include.articlesAddie Greco-SanchezCanadian Labour CongressDonna HardakerDr. David BrownDr. David PosenDr. Ian M. F. ArnoldHuman Resources Professional AssociationInstitute for Work and HealthJudy KerlingM. Suzanne ArnoldMary Ann BayntonStéphane Grenier

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