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your life at work survey

Leaders have so many challenges in today's competitive business environment, from hiring, training, and managing operations and budgets while needing to retain a productive and healthy work force.

In addition, increasing risks and costs associated with employee mental and physical health are gaining more attention. Challenges in the general health of the population and new legislation are bringing this topic to the forefront for many executives.

Martin Shain, author of Weathering the Perfect Legal Storm, provides a compelling discussion on how changes in legislation and legal trends are increasing pressure for employers to address employee health in order to maintain a psychologically safe workplace.

"From a time no more than 10 years ago, when only egregious acts of harassment and bullying resulting in catastrophic psychological harm could give rise to legal actions for mental injury, we have arrived at a point where even the negligent and chronic infliction of excessive work demands can be the subject of such claims under certain conditions," he writes in his report.

As a result, Howatt HR, in conjunction with The Globe and Mail's Your Life at Work Survey, has created the Organizational Effectiveness Benchmark, an online tool designed to start conversations among executives with the aim of improving how efficiently their company operates and how they manage their talent.

This tool originates from Howatt HR's TalOp, an organizational development methodology to help improve a company's efficiency. It focuses on removing confusion, improving job fit, operations workflow and policies, and helping managers be more effective.

It also provides leaders with a snapshot of their organization's current effectiveness by assessing executives' perception of their organization across five levels: strategic, people/process, culture, management, and employee health. The results generated indicate the possibility of risk and untapped potential at a company.

Employers and managers can use the results to examine the company's strengths and weaknesses with their leadership teams. The more measurable outcomes a company can obtain, the better the chance employers will reduce employee stress and enhance productivity, engagement and health.

When reviewing their results, leaders should pick one or two main points and then determine the most probable root cause of the problems and possible solutions. Leaders can then decide what they can and will do.

Once the online benchmark survey is completed leaders get a report and can download an e-book titled Taking the Guesswork out of Managment.

This tool is an addition to The Globe and Mail's Your Life at Work Survey, done in conjunction with Howatt HR. The survey gives employees a tool to self-evaluate their current stress, coping skills, health and engagement.

Results from the ongoing survey continue to find that employees' level of productivity is influenced by their ability to cope with workplace stress. The lower employees' coping skills, the greater their risk for not working to their full potential and for reporting lower engagement levels and higher health risks.

The good news is that employers can help employees improve their coping skills through coaching, mentoring, and classroom and online workshops. The strategies can teach resilience, problem solving, decision making and managing emotions. Success, though, is dependent on employees' motivation and willingness to learn and practice the skills and tools they are taught.

However, before leaders spend even a dollar on any action plan, they need to know what the potential return on investment – and the impact and benefit to their organization's balance sheet – will be. And they need to make it clear to everyone how success will be measured.

Since corporate decisions are influenced by money, leaders can use our Cost of Doing Nothing spreadsheet to estimate how much it's hurting their bottom line to not help improve the health and wellbeing of their employees.

Bill Howatt (@billhowatt) is president of Howatt Consulting in Kentville, N.S.