Written by: Michelle Phaneuf, P.Eng., C.Med, Workplace Fairness West
Workplace Fairness West is seeing what they hope is the beginning of a shift in workplaces. Maybe it’s the perfect storm with Bill 30 being examined in the Alberta legislature, the #metoo social media campaign and its impact on the sexual harassment conversation and organizations under the microscope for respectful workplace issues. It allows us to hope that our workplaces can be the safe, diverse, open and productive places that all employees desire. What would this look like?
It would look like employees not being concerned about the stigma of mental health and having the support to manage these issues. They would have access to Employee and Family Assistance plans and reach out to mental and physical health care professionals when needed. Managers and supervisors would be trained to approach those with mental health issues and enter into conversations about how they can support employees. There would be a process for the employer, employee, and healthcare professional to use when an employee requires accommodation. Employees would appreciate this support, get the help they need and remain productive and engaged knowing they are valued in the workplace.
It would look like employees having options when they are managing conflict. They would have an independent, neutral third party to anonymously connect with in times of communication or conflict difficulties. This third party would support them to sort through and resolve conflicts. They would have support to develop options for moving forward or build capacity by attending learning sessions focused on successfully managing conflict and taking on difficult conversations. Diversity of opinion and experience would be welcome and the desire for strong debate (right/wrong thinking) would shift and dialogue would become the norm. Awareness around aggressive or avoidance cultures would grow as well as a positive view of productive conflict and a common language to address unproductive conflict.
It would look like undertaking fairness assessments of existing conflict management systems and explore how the culture influences conflict. Surveys and focus groups would provide feedback for employers. Employees would be engaged to develop a ‘Fairness Group’ and meet to explore other ways they can be involved in shifting culture. Options for managing conflict would be explored, such as facilitating teams, mediation, conflict coaching, peer mediation, training, workplace restoration and a ‘Fairness Office’.
It would look like organizations including the needed human resources and capital into their budgets to implement the Psychological Health & Safety Standards as developed by the Canadian Mental Health Commission. They would be focusing on making the business case and undertaking assessments and surveys to develop baselines. The 13 psychosocial factors would be explored with employees to determine the impact of employees’ psychological responses to work and work conditions. A focused conversation to explore the way work is carried out (deadlines, workload, work methods) and the context in which work occurs (including relationships and interactions with managers and supervisors, colleagues and coworkers, and clients or customers). Training would be implemented for managers and employees and regular measurement of the impact and results of implementing the standard would be undertaken.
It would look like making respectful workplaces a priority. Policies and procedures would be re-examined to ensure they meet the requirements of new or upcoming legislation and current workplace expectations. Organizations would begin with implementing the online Respect in the Workplace program as developed by Respect Group. This would ensure all employees are on a level playing field in understanding respect and enable the organization to become “Respect Certified”. Employees would then be engaged to continue the conversation through on-going facilitated sessions.
As you can see Human Resource professionals play a huge role in this workplace vision. They also need support and will look to CEO’s, COO’s and other organizational leaders to be the sponsor of these initiatives. Together they will work collaboratively to take on this important task.
We know this is a big vision for 2018, but we have seen organizations start down this path already. Whether it was prompted by the shift in society’s focus on harassment and respect issues or the fact that they want to create a safe, open, respectful environment for their employees to succeed. Either way, we have witnessed the positive impact already. What will be required for your organization to take the first step to realize this vision in 2018?
Psychological health and safety in the workplace is impacted by many different factors. In this session, Michelle and Marjorie, mediators, and partners with Workplace Fairness West will share case studies to demonstrate a Workplace Health score-card, and through a series of discussions and activities, identify strategies and approaches for maintaining and improving workplace health.
The Workplace Health Score Card is a practical tool which can be used to assess how effectively an organization is structured to support psychological safety and to identify sources of concern. Evaluation of the scorecard and structured facilitated discussion will highlight conflict management systems in the workplace, and the role of restoration and restorative practices following harassment and investigation procedures.