Evidence-based actions for psychological and social support

These actions and responses can be implemented with a minimal investment of resources or cost to the organization.

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Description: In a work environment with positive psychological and social support, all employees feel a sense of belonging and contribution.   

You can access our free workshop materials to engage your team in a discussion about the psychological and social support that would allow them to be successful in their jobs. 

Provide effective support for employees with personal or health issues. 

  • Ensure all managers, supervisors, and leaders are effective in responding to concerns or complaints related to workplace stress, or psychological hazards such as conflict, bullying, or harassment. Refer to Identifying employee issues for leaders for examples of how to develop a shared understanding among management, human resources and union representatives to support employees who may be struggling. 
  • Give your leaders resources like A tool to support employee success to help them become more comfortable talking to employees about productivity in spite of disabilities. There are many more resources to help leaders address specific employee concerns such as impairment, violence, dementia, or employees who are caregivers, newcomers, or approaching retirement. 
  • Performance management offers safe and effective approaches to managing employees who have personal or health issues. 
  • Managing co-worker reactions to accommodation can help address the perception that people with disabilities get preferential treatment or do less work. 
  • Use the Protecting the psychological health and safety of volunteers toolkit | PDF to identify and support volunteers who are struggling with personal or health issues.
  • Discuss how to stay connected when people are away from work due to illness, injury or caregiving obligations. Check out Return to work response for leaders to begin a conversation and set expectations. 

Reduce stigma in the workplace.  

Improve mental health awareness and well-being for all employees. 

  • Look for ways to address isolation of employees who work remotely. Hybrid teams has tips and strategies that can help employees who may feel disconnected, isolated, or lonely. 
  • Help employees develop personal coping strategies to improve how they respond to stressors. Resilience is a tool that can help. 
  • Offer mental health education during Mental Health Week in May and Mental Illness Awareness Week in October.   
  • Consider subscribing to the free Mental health awareness weekly emails. Forward them to employees and discuss them at team meetings to encourage conversations about positive mental health. 

Share the services and benefits available in your organization, community and online with all employees.  

  • Use the Mental health resource list tool within Identifying employee issues for leaders to help create an inventory. The leader can use this list to explain to their team what’s available to them.  
  • If you have an employee and family assistance program or benefit provider, invite them to present to all employees. Most will do this at no cost. 
  • Train leaders to Refer employees to relevant and available resources. This can also help leaders set appropriate boundaries for: 
    • Resolving workplace issues 
    • Supporting work success  
    • Referring to other experts for personal, health, family or financial stressors 
  • Share community or online resources to help with psychological health concerns, such as those shared in Health resources and Personal growth

Build social support with and among your team members.  

  • Build resilience and reduce stress through team building activities. There are many easy and effective ways to improve the way your team works together and supports each other. 
    • Incorporate mindful practices in day-to-day work, such as gratitude moments, meditation before meetings and expressing appreciation. Healthy break activities has some helpful ideas. 
  • Consider Peer support programs that allow trained employees to assist colleagues. Effective peer supporters have similar experiences in both life and work.
    • Assign mentors to new employees so they have someone to go to for support in addition to their leader. 

Additional actions and resources  

Putting psychological and social support on the agenda provides you with materials to support a team discussion on approaches to psychological and social support as well as materials to support policy review and development.

Adapted from Guarding Minds at Work™

© Samra, J., Gilbert, M., Shain, M., Bilsker, D. 2009-2020, with amendments by Stuart, H. 2022.  All rights reserved. Website development and data storage by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

Guarding Minds at Work was commissioned by Canada Life and additional resources are supported by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health.

Contributors include.articlesDavid K. MacDonaldDr. Heather StuartDr. Joti SamraDr. Martin ShainMary Ann BayntonMerv GilbertPhilip PerczakSarah JennerSusan JakobsonWorkplace Safety and Prevention ServicesWorkplace Strategies team 2022 to present

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