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The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Read about the 2018 winners of the award at

Registration is now open for the 2019 Employee Recommended Workplace Awards at

Morneau Shepell is hosting a free webinar on Thurs. Sept. 13 from 1 p.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET to discuss seven ways to improve mental health in your workplace. If you would like to participate, click here to register.

You are invited to participate in our study to evaluate how prepared the average employee, HR leader, OHS professional, manager and senior leader believes their organization is to create a psychologically safe workplace. We ask you to take a few minutes to complete the short Rapid Psychological Health and Safety Gap Analysis. Over the next several weeks we will be collecting data and reporting our findings so that you can benchmark where you are against your peers.

Does your organization have a documented mental health strategy in place?

A answer of yes may indicate some degree of commitment by an organization, but it doesn’t prove that the strategy is working or making an impact on the average employee’s workplace experience, nor is it preventing mental injuries or promoting mental health.

Having a mental health strategy in place can mean many things. It may simply mean that such a policy is in place, managers have received basic training in mental health issues, and all employees have access to an employee and family assistance program.

Or it may mean that an organization has or is adopting the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard), the gold standard for guiding an evidence-based mental health strategy.

A psychological health and safety management system, the Standard’s 13 psychological health and safety factors are often used as a step in the implementation process for obtaining a baseline and insight as to which factors are positively and negatively impacting the work force’s psychological health.

This article is the first in a five-part series that introduces a new Rapid Psychological Health and Safety Gap Analysis that enables you to easily evaluate your organization’s psychological safety practices. Organizations interested in adopting the standard must conduct a gap analysis to measure the degree of conformity and adherence with respect to their current and desired states.

We encourage occupational health and safety (OHS) and human resources (HR) leaders to take part in this study by sharing how well they believe their organization is doing towards creating a psychologically safe workplace. We will share our findings from this study in future articles.


One interesting observation we’ve made over the past couple of years with respect to the Standard may partially explain why some organizations are not leveraging or understanding how to gain the full benefits recommended by the Standard.

Because the Standard’s design is aligned to a management system – a concept that’s familiar in the world of occupational health and safety that includes reporting, continuous improvement and auditing – many HR professionals have not been formally trained nor are they comfortable working within an OHS management system.

In our white paper The Next Human Capital Management Trend: De-Siloing HRM and OHS to Achieve Integrated Worker Health, we introduced a new model that aligns HR and OHS so that the expertise and training of both groups can be leveraged to solve one of the fastest-growing problems in the world: mental illness. The global economic impact of mental disorders was estimated to be approximately US$2.5-trillion in 2010; by 2030, that figure is projected to rise by 240 per cent, to US$6-trillion.


Senior management will determine the degree of integration between HR and OHS. Adopting or adapting the Standard to create a psychologically-safe workplace requires audits and regular measurement of programs to evaluate what is and is not working.

The primary goal of a psychological workplace audit is to assess what’s in place and working, along with any gaps and opportunities for improvement.


One approach to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s mental health strategy and programs is to complete a psychological health and safety audit. The complexity of this audit can be low- or high-tech. Low-tech audits can be helpful, as they quickly inform leaders what they have in place. To gain more clarity and digital detail, a more in-depth audit would be required.

The rapid, low-tech psychological audit is an easy, fast and economic approach for organizations just starting to think about enacting a mental health strategy. It’s an easy way to begin to evaluate core factors that can predict workplace psychological safety and health. By completing this audit, organization leaders can quickly determine whether they have in place the kinds of policies, procedures and programs needed for curbing and preventing mental health risk in the workplace.

Three steps for conducting a rapid psychological audit:

Step 1 – Randomly select a group of 10 to 15 employees, with representation from frontline, middle and senior leaders. Have everyone complete their own rapid psychological audit and print off their results.

Step 2 – Invite the group to bring their results to a meeting where they can share and explain their scores.

Step 3 – After reviewing the seven-category, 21-item rapid audit with the group, pick the two areas that appear to be at highest risk and could benefit from focus and action. The champion overseeing the organization’s mental health strategy can use this information to inform their next steps.

Glyn Jones is a professional engineer, a consulting occupational health and safety professional, and a partner at EHS Partnerships Ltd. in Calgary.

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto.

You can find all the stories in this series at