Organizational Culture

Consider Hiring a Newcomer

Peterborough opened its doors to many Syrian refugees in 2016.  As an employer, consider opening your doors to a new talent pool.  To help you prepare, check out the Employer Guide to Hiring Newcomers 2016 produced by seven different agencies.  The resource provides a profile of the Syrian refugees, details on hiring and onboarding support [...]

Have That Talk: Promote Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

The Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace Standard has been available now for four years.  Some workplaces dove in, adopted the Standard and created a comprehensive implementation plan very early on.  Other workplaces are taking small, progressive steps forward.  Regardless of how fast or slow your organization is moving on this issue, a key [...]

Reconsider Your Workplace Wellness Approach

It is tempting to consider workplace wellness from the perspective of what your employees can do themselves to improve their health…from eating better to getting more exercise and sleep.  The research is clear, however, that to make a lasting impact on a workplace’s bottom line, employers need to look at the environment they are creating [...]

Understand What Motivates Employees

There are several researchers who look at what motivates employees.  Many people have read Daniel Pink’s book Drive but have you listened to what Dan Ariely has to say?  In a 20 minute TED talk, behavioral economist, Dan Ariely addresses the question, “What makes us feel good about our work?”  Employees are not just motivated [...]

Accessibility Employer

Here are some compelling reasons for hiring someone with a disability: “11% of disabled people have their trade certificate versus 9% of able-bodied people.” “17% of disabled people have college degrees, which is the same as the able bodied population.” “Hiring workers who have a disability does not adversely affect an employer’s WSIB premiums.” “According [...]

Explore the Feasibility of Telecommuting (a.k.a Telework)

With technology comes opportunities to do our work differently.  Some workplaces are moving toward having their employees work from home.  Depending on what line of business your workplace is in, think about the pros and cons of telecommuting (a.k.a. telework).  To start the “pro” list, check out the list below taken from an article in [...]

“Supporting Employee Success” – Accommodation Planning

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has produced a resource to support workplaces in creating supportive accommodations for employees with mental health issues.  Here is the free document, Supporting Employee Success: A Tool to Plan Accommodations that Support Success at Work. The Commission’s workplace webinar in May 2015 featured this resource. Click here to listen [...]

Learn How to Create Accessible Meetings

There are many requirements under the Accessibility of Ontario with Disabilities Act (AODA).  For general details regarding those requirements and timelines, visit the AODA site.  To learn more about making your meetings accessible, check out this guide: Guide to Conducting Accessible Meetings. Source:  Peterborough County-City Health Unit

Consider the Needs of Transgendered Workers

The needs of transgendered employees are protected under human rights.  It is important to learn more about ways in which employers can create work environments that are inclusive and accommodating.  To get you started in thinking about this, here is a blog post from The BLOG of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times: Employers urged to develop [...]

Supporting Employees in Balancing Work and Caregiving

Family status is a protected ground under human rights legislation so it is important for employers to consider what accommodations might be required.  The Canadian Human Rights Commission has produced “A Guide to Balancing Work and Caregiving Obligations.”  Be sure to check it out. Source:  Peterborough County-City Health Unit

Support Employees Who Are Pregnant or New Parents

Have you made your workplace family-friendly?  Choosing to have a child means taking a number of things into consideration.  One of those things is how well does the workplace support workers who are pregnant or returning to work after the baby is born.  Not every workplace is the same and their may be risks to [...]

Support New and/or Young Workers

There are many benefits to opening your door to new or young workers.  Whether you’ve  just hired new and/or young workers starting out in their first jobs or you’re taking on summer students, think about what you can do to create a healthy work environment for them. To get started, consider visiting the Ministry of [...]

The Law and Return to Work Plans: Supporting Employees with Mental Illness

On November 6, about 100 workplace representatives attended a session hosted by the Peterborough Health at Work Committee and the Peterborough Chapter of HRPA.  Dr. Martin Shain provided a good background on the legal issues around mental health in the workplace.  With seven areas of law influencing a workplace’s duty to provide a psychologically safe [...]

Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace: An Action Guide for Employers

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has produced a resource for employers to support them in implementing the new standard.  To help you get started with this tool, there is a free 60 minute “on demand” webinar featuring the two authors of the guide.  For more information and to register visit: Source: Peterborough County-City [...]

Overview of New Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) hosted a webinar on the new Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace Standard in January 2013.  A video of the webinar as well as the slides from the presentation are now available for download and viewing.  Visit the MHCC website. Source:  Peterborough County-City Health Unit

Working Life: A Documentary Tool Kit about Mental Health in the Workplace

Sky Works Charitable Foundation, based in Toronto, has created a tool kit for workplaces to use that addresses mental health in the workplace.  The kit includes a 37 minute documentary video featuring individuals who have lived with a family member’s mental illness and, for some, their own.  Their stories highlight the different ways that workplaces choose to deal with mental [...]

Dealing with Mental Health in the Workplace: Are you ready?

Only one in four employees feel their supervisor handles mental health issues well and only 56% of managers say they have received any training on mental health.    These are only two of the interesting findings you can find in a report produced by the Conference Board of Canada. In June 2011, they released the [...]

“Work Without Walls”

In his book, The Workplace Revolution, Matthew Gilbert shares a number of strategies for creating a healthy workplace.  One such strategy is to “work without walls.”  An open and transparent organization will have more engaged and dedicated employees.  It creates a culture of respect and value.  Develop a policy that reflects this by including such practices as [...]

Managing Emotions in the Workplace

As a manager, HR professional, union steward, and/or workplace wellness champion, you have likely encountered a colleague or employee who is experiencing strong emotions.  Whether they are angry, overwhelmed, sad, or frustrated, it is important to know how to interact with the employee in an empathetic way.  The research is clear that managers who show empathy, benefit [...]

Aging Workforce – Local Project

Over two years ago, the Workforce Development Board, Trent University and the Trent Centre for Community-Based Education partnered up to take a local look at the aging workforce.  The research involved talking with older workers as well as employers.  The following reports have been generated: Older Worker Stories Project – Final Report Summary of Older [...]

Ten Work-Life Balance Strategies for the Workplace

The Psychology Foundation of Canada in partnership with Desjardins Financial Security developed a number of resources for workplaces on stress, work-life balance and the multigenerational workforce.  Click on this link to access, Managing to Manage Workplace Stress.  In this resource you will find ten strategies for addressing work-life balance. Source:  Peterborough County-City Health Unit

Health and Management Leadership

Although the health and well-being of your employees can be tackled through lifestyle messaging around eating well, being active, quitting smoking, and so on, the greatest impact you can have on workplace health is managing your employees well.  The Canadian Centre for Management Development’s Roundtable on Workplace Well-Being produced a document that contains practical information and assessment tools.  One tool helps managers to [...]

Making It Work – A CMHA Program

With one in four Canadians dealing with a mental illness at some point in their lives, many of us can say that we know someone who has dealt with stigma and the desire to contribute to society but only meets up with roadblocks.  With proper supports, an individual living with a mental illness can be a valuable employee.  Be [...]

Family Child Care Fair (Kit)

The Family Child Care Fair is designed to introduce employees to the various organizations in your community that provide quality childcare and related services.  Attendees have the opportunity to introduce themselves to providers, discuss their childcare needs, and explore available options. Coordinators should host this event in a large, open area, where each childcare agency [...]

Stress Test (Kit)

A brief questionnaire that addresses the signs and symptoms of stress serves as an effective, convenient tool for employees who wish to assess their stress levels.  Test results that indicate an unhealthy level of stress may encourage employees to seek necessary services, such as counseling or other supports. The Stress Test is a basic instrument [...]

Capture the Moment (Kit)

Capture the Moment is a simple activity that provides employees the opportunity to share their favourite stress-relieving hobbies and past-times with their fellow employees.  The activity emphasizes the importance and variety of stress management strategies.   Employees who are interested in participating must submit a work-appropriate photograph of themselves enjoying their favourite activities.  Staff will cast [...]

Hobby Fair (Kit)

The Hobby Fair encourages employees to share the interests or activities that they enjoy outside of work with their fellow employees.  Hobbies and interests that are unrelated to work often play an essential role in good health.  Importantly, these activities help relieve stress. Coordinators should host this event in a large, open area, where each [...]

Tuning Into Workplace Culture: A Practical Guide for Employers

The Health at Work Committee of Peterborough recently published a resource for employers that addresses organizational culture.  The following is the Table of Contents for the Guide: INTRODUCTION SECTION 1:  Comprehensive Workplace Wellness SECTION 2:  Organizational Culture Basics SECTION 3:  Assessing Culture SECTION 4:  Assessment Tools SECTION 5:  Taking Action: Next Steps SECTION 6:  Strategies [...]

Relax Fax (Kit)

Group faxes, e-mails, memos, and newsletters are great ways of spreading the word about health-related programming in and around the workplace.  Use the fax machine to send a series of regular faxes or e-mails regarding stress management. Content can include information about stress, strategies for managing stress, and workplace or community- based opportunities for employees looking [...]

Assess the Health of Your Organization

If you’re feeling like the culture of your workplace needs some tweaking, consider doing an assessment to get a read on how things are right now.  There are many tools available but two that we recommend include the Healthy Organization Assessment (c) by Dr. Graham Lowe and the CMHA’s Culture Survey.  Read below for brief [...]

Psychological Health and Safety: Helpful Resources

LOCAL RESOURCES Canadian Mental Health Association (705) 748-6711 Community Counselling and Resource Centre (705) 742-4258 ConnexOntario – Drug and Alcohol Helpline (800) 565-8603 ConnexOntario – Mental Health Helpline (866) 531-2600 ConnexOntario – Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline (888) 230-3505 Four County Crisis (866) 995-9933 FourCAST (addictions support) (800) 461-1909 Kinark Child and Family Services (705) 743-6356 [...]

Organizational Culture Symposium – October 21, 2010

On Thurdsay, October 21, the Peterborough Health at Work Committee hosted a half day symposium on workplace culture.  Over 100 people attended representing 35 workplaces.  Below are links to the presentations made by Dr. Graham Lowe and Dr. Fergal O’Hagan: Creating Healthy Organizations Presentation (Dr. Graham Lowe) What Local Workplaces Told Us – Results from a Local [...]

Hit the Showers

As best as resources and space allow, consider installing showers in the workplace for employees who engage in physical activity before, during, or after the workday.  Employees who wish to break a sweat during work hours will appreciate the support.   Source:  County of Lambton Community Health Services Department

Provide Supports for Active Commuters

Having a designated space to park one’s bicycle goes a long way in encouraging employees to leave the car in the garage and cycle to work.  Consider installing bicycle racks adjacent to traditional parking spaces for employees who are active commuters.  Also, for those employees who walk to work, provide adequate locker and changing facilities [...]

Just How Stressed Out Are You?

Distribute self-screening tools to employees to help them determine their current stress level and shed a light on workplace triggers that exacerbate their stress.  Encourage employees to share the results with one another in an effort to reduce stress and foster helpful relationships.   Source:  Brant County Health Unit

Laughter is the Best Medicine

It’s true—laughter reduces stress hormones and provides a welcome emotional and physical release.  To encourage laugher and light-heartedness in the workplace, post a “Joke Board” where employees can submit their favourite work-appropriate jokes and puns.  Or, attach a “Joke of the Day” to memos and faxes.   Source:  Brant County Health Unit

Host Screenings of Fun, Work-Appropriate Films

Screen classic slapstick comedies by Laurel & Hardy, the Three Stooges, and The Marx Brothers, or choose from among more modern films. Run the event in a boardroom or lunchroom and serve popcorn.   Source:  Peterborough County-City Health Unit

Casual Dress Days

Introduce a casual dress day of the week or month as a tool to reduce stress. Obtain support from management and publicize the day as a method to reduce stress.  Consider asking employees to donate a loonie for the privilege and then use the money for other wellness initiatives.   Source:  Peterborough County-City Health Unit

Encourage Employees to Assess Their Mental Health

Help reduce the stigma around mental health and encourage your employees to assess their status.  There are a number of free, on-line assessment tools that you could promote to your employees.  Here are three that we know of: Mental Health Works provides a free on-line emotional wellness survey tool that you and your employees can [...]

Develop a Comprehensive Mental Health Policy

Consider developing a comprehensive mental health policy that addresses mental health promotion as well as mental illness treatment and management. This may include: Support for assisting employees to stay mentally fit. Staff training about mental illnesses to help reduce the stigma and discrimination. This will help encourage employees to seek treatment, as opposed to trying to [...]

A League of Their Own

Encourage physical activity and athletics among employees by helping to establish workplace sports leagues or walking clubs.  As the employer, you are in a position to take the lead.  Reserve outdoor recreational areas, create rosters, and provide sports equipment.  Just make sure to offer a variety of options for employees of different ages and abilities. [...]

A Forum for Suggestions

Consider posting a suggestion box where employees may confidentially and respectfully make suggestions regarding how to improve workplace culture.  Coordinators may set up an electronic suggestion box using e-mail.  This strategy is only effective if management or the wellness committee acts on the suggestions.   Source:  County of Lambton Community Health Services Department

Discuss Improvements to Workplace Health Programs

Small group discussions or informal meetings between employees, management, and union representatives provide opportunities to discuss wellness concerns and share ideas for improving workplace wellness initiatives.  Individuals who coordinate these discussion groups should take steps to ensure an open, non-threatening atmosphere and the confidentiality of all participants’ statements.   Source:  County of Lambton Community Health Services [...]

Foster Mentoring Relationships

Initiate a mentoring program where experienced workers are partnered with inexperienced ones. Experienced workers can share their knowledge and act as trainers or consultants to new employees. New employees can assist experienced employees with learning new technological skills, and assist with physical aspects of the job. Locally, the Workplace Integration Centre has a mentoring program as well.  Visit Workplace Integration Program for more information.   In [...]

Support Employees Who Care for Ill Family Members

Provide employees with informational materials on healthy caregiving and the signs of caregiver burnout.  As a supplement to these materials, encourage employees to form a caregiving group where issues related to caregiving can be shared and discussed.   Source:  Brant County Health Unit

Offer Conflict Resolution Training

A major source of stress at work can be due to the conflicts we experience with a co-worker or boss.  Offer a session on conflict resolution so that employees can learn strategies for working with colleagues in a respectful, stress-free environment.  Ensure that managers have obtained advanced training in this area so they can assist in mediating conflicts. [...]

Supportive Managers Promote Workplace Wellness

Managers who take time out from their day to attend workplace wellness committee meetings and participate in health-oriented programming clearly demonstrate their support for employee wellness.  Similarly, managers who offer financial and technical support for wellness initiatives contribute to a positive organizational climate.   Staff members who coordinate wellness committees and programming should consider including management in [...]

Make Training Programs and Tools User-Friendly for All Ages

When it comes to training sessions and seminars, pay special attention to the learning preferences of different employee age groups.  While younger employees may favour technology-based resources, older workers may prefer face to face communication.  Make sure that printed materials are easy to read for those who are vision impaired.  Engage employees in a discussion [...]

“Thank You for Reporting Your Injuries”

Proper recordkeeping when it comes to workplace injuries is essential for identifying and reducing workplace hazards.  The trick is to create a work environment where employees feel that they can report their injuries without fear of reprisal or embarrassment—whether it comes from coworkers or managers.  Take measures to assure employees that injury reporting is necessary [...]

Listen Carefully to Employees’ Accounts of Workplace Hazards

Actively encourage employees to share their concerns regarding workplace hazards, injuries, and physically demanding tasks.  If staff members can rest assured that you, as an employer, value their input and experiences and will act upon them, more employees will share their thoughts.  These employee contributions may prove invaluable towards identifying, assessing, and controlling injury risk [...]

Communication Training for Supervisors and Managers

Managers—and, indirectly, the employees they supervise—stand to benefit from training that emphasizes effective, sensitive communication strategies.  Some of the topics that these training sessions address may include how supervisors should offer employees rewards and appreciation appropriately and how to effectively and sensibly assess employees’ workloads.   Source:  County of Lambton Community Health Services Department

Active Workplace Teams

Form workplace teams or hold family events to support increased levels of physical activity as well as the development of healthy relationships between employees and between family members. Try bowling, golf or softball. Also, consider forming groups for activities like cycling, Tai Chi, regular daily stretching or aerobics. Encourage walking groups, dancing groups or recreational [...]

Meetings with More Informality

Consider making some meetings more fun and informal for relationship- building purposes. Open the meeting by showing a comic strip on a related topic (Dilbert comics are a fun option), or share a humourous quote or poem. A simple game of “catch around the table” involving a soft, small ball will not only help your [...]

Seek Feedback from Employees

Listen carefully to employees’ concerns regarding tense, uncomfortable, or hostile relationships at work.  This input may help supervisors, human resources personnel, or EAP staff diffuse the situation before it becomes critical.   Source:  Brant County Health Unit

Provide Staff with Outdoor Recreation Space

Encourage employees to use this space for physical activity before, during, or after work.  Given the size and suitability of the area, you may also want to provide sports equipment, such as soccer balls, volleyball nets, etc; or, encourage employees to bring these supplies from home. Source:  Brant County Health Unit

Incorporate Physical Activity into Recreational Events

Next time you plan a recreational event for employees, make exercise a key component of the day’s activities.  Invite employees to take a hike in the woods, enjoy an afternoon of skiing, go golfing, or participate in a walking fundraiser for charity.  Employees receive a double benefit.  They engage in physical activity while enjoying a [...]

Communication is Key

Keep employees informed and in the loop when it comes to workplace goals, plans, and decisions.  That way, employees know what to expect at work.  They feel a greater source of control over their work environment, and this can help reduce stress.  Plus, communication and transparency on the part of management often inspires similar behaviour [...]

Allow Everyone to Have a Say in Important Decisions

When employees have a say in decisions that affect them, they feel that they have some control over their work environment.  The outcomes of decisions are more likely to reflect employee preferences, which makes for a more supportive work environment and less stress.  Routinely invite employees to participate in making decisions that influence their workplace [...]

Recognize a Job Well Done

Employees are the most valuable asset a workplace has.  Effective employee recognition enhances motivation and satisfaction, increases employee productivity, and contributes to improved organizational performances.  As a management team, consider creating policies that outline programs and actions that recognize employees for their service.  Both informal recognition (i.e. complimenting workers on their performance) and formal recognition [...]

Include Breaks and Rotations in Workplace Regulations

For employees who perform repetitive or forceful tasks, breaks and rotations may prevent strains, injuries, and illnesses that result from work.  Consider creating job rotation or exercise programs for employees in these types of positions.  Be sure to include guidelines for breaks and rotations in workplace policies.   Source:  Brant County Health Unit

Create Financial Incentives and Other Awards for Supportive, Creative Managers

Research shows that employees who have social supports at work are better equipped to cope with stress.  Managers can provide front-line support to those who need it most, helping them manage their stress and reduce workplace stressors.  Creating incentives for managers who creatively support employees will encourage other managers to follow suit.   Source:  Brant [...]

Carefully Manage the ‘Danger Hours’

The period of time between four and six o’clock in the morning is notorious for adverse employee events, from intense fatigue to workplace injuries.  Adjust existing policies to ensure that employees working during this period are able to change tasks, take breaks, or take a moment to exercise.  Workplace policies should also ensure increased ventilation [...]

Ratify Workplace Policies to Combat Ageism

Create workplace policies that prohibit age-biased speech and behaviour in the workplace.  These policies will reduce tensions and enhance respect between employees of different ages.   Source: Brant County Health Unit

Prohibit Excessive Overtime

Excessive or mandatory overtime may only worsen the potentially negative effects of working late into the night or evening.  Make sure that your workplace policies don’t inadvertently urge employees to work during times at which they aren’t scheduled to do so. Source:  Brant  County Health Unit

Place a Limit on Employees’ “Homework”

If your employees regularly take work-related assignments home in the evening to complete during their time off, chances are they’re taking time away from other activities and family time that make up a balanced life.  Considering feedback from employees, create a policy that establishes guidelines for the amount of time that employees should spend on [...]

Conduct Assessments of Employees’ Workloads

Research shows that high job demands, having too much to do over too long a period, and constant imposed deadlines are among some of the most harmful workplace stressors.  As an effort to reduce employee stress, routinely review job demands to ensure that each employee’s workload is manageable and in line with his or her [...]

Enact Flexible Scheduling Options

Develop flexible scheduling policies that allow employees to dedicate a few moments throughout the day to physical activity, personal appointments, family obligations, stress relievers, or other pleasurable activities.  The adjusted work day and flex-time policies allow employees to work the standard number of hours on a daily basis, with flexible start and finish times within [...]

Flexible Schedules Allow for Counselling

Develop flexible scheduling policies that allow employees to attend substance misuse programming or counselling sessions as needed.  The adjusted work day and flex-time policies allow employees to work the standard number of hours on a daily basis, with flexible start and finish times within limits established by management.  More flexibility means that employees are able [...]

Family Benefits

Consider providing flexible, family-oriented benefit packages that can be reassessed based upon family life situations. For example, parents could select different options based on the age of their child(ren), such as opting for orthodontic coverage for braces or day care coverage if children are young. Source: Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

Provide Breastfeeding Support

Facilitate breastfeeding or breast milk expression in the workplace by providing private rooms, milk storage arrangements, adequate breaks during the day, flexible work schedules, and on-site child care facilities. For more detailed information about why you need to support breastfeeding employees, including policy ideas, check out this publication from the Ontario Public Health Association: The [...]

Create Financial Incentives and Other Awards for Supportive, Creative Managers

Research shows that employees who have social supports at work are better equipped to cope with stress.  Managers can provide front-line support to those who need it most, helping them manage their stress and reduce workplace stressors.  Creating incentives for managers who creatively support employees will encourage other managers to follow suit. Source: Brant County [...]

Create a Flex-Time, or Adjusted Work Day Policy

Employees whose work schedules are more compatible with the demands and responsibilities that they face outside the workplace are better equipped to balance work and home.  The adjusted work day and flex-time policies allow employees to work the standard number of hours on a daily basis, with flexible start and finish times within limits established [...]

Offer Night Workers Quality Daycare

Employees who work during the evening and nighttime hours find it difficult to care for children or loved ones during the day, the time at which they’re usually asleep.  If possible, consider including quality daycare services as a benefit for shiftworking employees who double as parents. Source:  County of Lambton Community Health Services Department

Consider Employees’ Input When Creating and Adapting Shifts

Employee involvement may provide the key to forming the most efficient shift schedule.  Remember, the best schedules are those that cause the least disruption to sleep patterns and still allow for the maximum amount of social and family time. Source: Brant County Health Unit

Happy Holidays

Consider the suggestions and needs of employees when creating holiday work schedules.  This will ensure that everyone enjoys a happy holiday, while minimizing the demands and stresses of work.   Source: Brant County Health Unit

Offer Workshops and Training on Each Shift

For the convenience of employees, offer training sessions and workshops during each shift.  This ensures that night workers and other shiftworkers don’t have to alter their existing working schedules to attend. Source: Brant County Health Unit

Design Your Shift Schedule with These Tips in Mind

Revise your workplace schedule policies to ensure forward rotating shifts that transition from days to afternoons to nights.  The length of each rotation should amount to less than three shifts or more than three weeks.  These short and long rotations  prevent the body from adjusting or allow the body to more fully adjust to the [...]

Eliminate Ageism from the Workplace

Create an awareness program or seminar on ageism and its different manifestations in the workplace, emphasizing strategies to reduce age-biased attitudes and behaviours.  Source: Brant County Health Unit

Ensure Training Programs and Tools are User-Friendly for All Age Groups

When it comes to training sessions and seminars, pay special attention to the learning preferences of different employee age groups.  While younger employees may favour technology-based resources, older workers may prefer face to face communication.  Make sure that printed materials are easy to read for those who are vision impaired.  Engage employees in a discussion [...]

Ratify Workplace Policies to Combat Ageism

Create workplace policies that prohibit age-biased speech and behaviour in the workplace.  These policies will reduce tensions and enhance respect between employees of different ages. Source: Brant County Health Unit

Have a Quiet Room

Everybody needs a little space.  Using available resources and facilities, create a quiet room where employees can go to relax and unwind throughout the day.  Furnish the room with comfortable chairs or couches and calming decor.  Provide a tape recorder with relaxation music as a fixture in the room or on a sign out basis.  [...]

Consider Offering an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Employee assistance programs are here to help.  Make sure that your staff has access to an Employee Assistance Program that can provide employees with counselling and additional tips for dealing with interpersonal conflicts.   Source:  Brant County Health Unit