DIY Management: How to create a mentally healthy workplace

How to create a mentally healthy workplace

Pacific Blue Cross staff have access to nutritious food

Michael Reid, disability client relationship manager at Pacific Blue Cross in Burnaby, and Jean-Paul Gravel, founder and CEO of Vancouver’s ThroughConversation Personal Development Inc., share their thoughts on workplace wellness

1. Start at the top

 A healthy workplace begins with a healthy executive team, observes Gravel. “If the executive team is not happy, if they are worried or upset, this will have a trickle-down effect that will quickly impact the entire workplace,” he warns. “Company culture is created from the top down.”

2. Be approachable

Establish a safe workplace where people aren’t afraid to talk or come forward with their mental health concerns, Reid says—not just to HR but to management groups and team leaders. Gravel’s take: “By doing so, you will have the opportunity to know the people who are working for you, what they are going through, and how you can be of assistance.” Reid also suggests looking at initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk and #SickNotWeak.

3. Check with the pros

Reid recommends following the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. He also advises talking to your insurance carrier at renewal time about sufficient coverage for counselling and adding it to your disability package: “It’s really important these days to have a flexible benefits package that allows people access to psychological help.”

4. Be compassionate

As a leader, you do not want to reprimand or scold but inspire, Gravel points out. “Emotional states fluctuate, and so do the results people are able to achieve,” he says. “By showing compassion, you encourage your team to do better, and in turn they will appreciate the gesture. They will want to do better rather than feel that they have to do better.”

5. Involve your staff

Talk to your team and invite a conversation around what is needed to make the workplace a healthy environment, Gravel says. Pacific Blue Cross established a health and wellness committee to organize anything from health classes and Zumba to mindful meditation. “Take a holistic approach,” Reid counsels. “Keep improving not just on the mental health side but the physical side as well. Encourage people to walk instead of use the elevator; install sit/stand stations for employees.”