Psychological health and safety is important in every workplace
I learned this in a Starbucks of all places.
By now, there is no shortage of information on how damaging workplaces can be to a person’s mental health. A 2010 study estimated that 500,000 Canadians miss work each week due to mental illness. The financial cost from lost productivity is staggering and expected to climb to $2.5 trillion in 2041.
It would be easy to blame employees, but that only contributes to the stigma of mental illness. It’s also a myth that people who experience mental illness can’t work. What isn’t a myth is that employers are becoming increasingly responsible for the link between job stress and mental illness, and this is something that comes with legal repercussions. We’ve long considered physical health and safety as a priority in organizations, and now mental health is getting the attention it deserves.
Sure, it’s important for organizations to protect themselves from legal exposure, but a culture of psychological health and safety does so much more to benefit employers. It encourages employee engagement and retention, reduces turnover, and increases productivity. All of these provide a financial benefit. The framework is designed so that any organization can adapt it to their workplace. It involves participation from all levels through a shared responsibility around organizational culture, civility and respect. Psychological health and safety helps build a culture that includes the ability to speak up when needed.
This includes the safety to talk about our mental health. Read on for an example of where I saw this happen and I’ll explain psychological health and safety in more detail afterwards.
We talk about “organizations” and their “culture” but when it comes down to it, we’re talking about people. It’s a person or group of people that leads an organization. Decides the cultural norms and purpose. And makes sure employees have the right working conditions to protect their mental health at work.