Psychological health and safety change process

It can seem daunting to prioritize and choose those evidence-based actions most likely to improve psychological health and safety in the work environment. Use this Creating change process to help you think through the options and guide your decision making. 

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Psychological health and safety is a process of continual improvement. Trying to do too much all at once can create stress and put pressure on employees. Instead, consider implementing smaller changes over time. Focusing on one initiative at a time and building on success may be ideal. After you incorporate these initiatives, or when they’re no longer necessary, you can add more. 

Choose your evidence-based action. Then, use the Creating change worksheet to refine your plan.

Step 1: Assess potential actions

Weigh risks and benefits to help identify potential challenges and opportunities before you commit. Review each of the following points against your proposed action. Then write your response on the Creating change worksheet you’ve already started.


Appropriateness is the degree to which the action’s relevant to your work situation and good for your organization. 

This would be an action compatible with your work demands and setting. Record on the Creating change worksheet why you feel the action’s appropriate.


Acceptability is the degree to which the employer, union if applicable, and employees would agree to implement the action. Actions should be: 

  • Beneficial for all
  • Easy to explain to decision makers
  • Easy to communicate to employees
  • Straightforward to implement

Decision makers and employees may reject actions that are overly complicated, increase workload or interfere with the ability to meet objectives. In unionized environments, the action should align with the collective agreement. Record on the Creating change worksheet why this action will be acceptable to all workplace stakeholders.


Accessibility is the degree to which everyone can participate, regardless of ability or location.

There are many considerations in terms of who can access the action. They include location, method of delivery and timing. Language, literacy level and format also can slow or hinder access. 

It’s important to include and support employees with differing abilities. Record on the Creating change worksheet how this action will be accessible to everyone.


Efficiency is the degree to which we have the resources to implement and sustain the action.

Do a cost-benefit analysis on the action. Estimate these costs:

  • Material
  • Delivery expenses such as transportation, venue or refreshments
  • Time and expenses for developers, facilitators, participants and evaluators to participate

Weigh the expenses against the value this action may achieve for each participant. Here’s an example:

  • The total cost is $5,000.
  • 50 or more employees will become more aware of protecting their own mental health.
  • The potential cost-benefit is decreased absenteeism and improved productivity for $100 per employee.

Record on the Creating change worksheet why this is an efficient action.


Effectiveness is the degree to which the action will have a positive measurable impact and lead to the intended outcomes.

Ensure anyone can see a link between the selected action and the intended outcomes. This is critical. This evidence can come from established workplace practices, evidence-based resources or academic literature. Record on the Creating change worksheet the evidence for why the action will be effective, as well as how you’ll measure success.

Measurements of success could include the following approaches and metrics:

  • Participation – measure how many people take part in your action.
  • Behaviour changes – track the number of times participants do things differently. Give specific direction in advance. What behaviour change are you looking for? How do participants or their leaders report this action?
  • Absenteeism – track the number of days off in the months before and after implementing the action. Look for changes in trends. Look for ways to maintain confidentiality while tracking absence.
  • Complaints, conflicts or grievances – track the number reported in the months before and after the action.
  • Awareness – survey employees to determine the level of awareness about your action or the intended outcomes.
  • Participant perception – ask specific questions about the experience with the action.
  • Supervisor perception – survey supervisors about changes resulting from this action.
  • Focus groups – bring together participants to discuss how the action impacted them and suggestions for improvement.
  • Stress satisfaction scan – administer this 6-question survey before and after the action to measure changes in how employees feel about work.


Safety is the degree to which all potential risks to both physical and psychological safety are eliminated or managed.

Unintended consequences can happen at an individual or organizational level. For example, discussing mental illness may trigger or stigmatize employees. Come up with potential risks to physical and psychological safety. This reduces the likelihood of them happening. On the Creating change worksheet, record the risks you identified and how to prevent or mitigate them.

Once you’ve added your ideas to the Creating change worksheet, you may need to get approval.

Step 2: Choose actions that meet your criteria

Prioritize the actions that meet the criteria you chose in step 1. Identify which actions will be done first and how you will measure success.    

Step 3: Choose the action planning team

Assign people to the various responsibilities found in the Committing to our success form.

Step 4: Implement the action(s)

Be sure to use the methods of measurement to assess the effectiveness of your action.

Step 5: Evaluate the outcomes

Analyze your measures of success to report on the extent to which the action(s) were able to reach the intended outcomes.

Step 6: Use a continual improvement approach

Your evaluation can support a process of continual improvement. Take what you learn from the action and consider how you can do it better or if the best course of action is to continue as is.

Contributors include.articlesDan BilskerDavid K. MacDonaldDr. Heather StuartDr. Joti SamraDr. Martin ShainMary Ann BayntonMerv GilbertPhilip PerczakSarah JennerSusan JakobsonWorkplace Strategies team 2022 to present

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