“You may not like the news you are getting, but at least you are
getting the information and you are able to make decisions and
choices, and feel that you are part of the process,” she said.
Sairanen adds that “jointness,” such as joint programs in wellness
or programs in the collective agreement or a women’s advocacy
program, for example, are the keys to success in the workplace. It
starts with joint committees and conversations between depart-ments,
Primary prevention programs such as workplace demands and
organizational structures that need to be tackled by human re-sources
should be tackled jointly. It’s also a good place, she adds,
to use best practices like the National Standard of Canada on
Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard)
– workplaces must be not only physically safe but also psycholog-ically
The first of its kind in the world, the voluntary guidelines of the
Standard provide tools and resources intended to guide organi-zations
in promoting mental health and preventing psychological
harm at work. Launched in January 2013, it has been adopted by
many companies across the country, internationally and across
organizations of all sectors and sizes. According to the Mental
Health Commission of Canada’s website, adopting the Standard
can help HR professionals deal with issues of productivity, finan-cial
performance, risk management, organizational recruitment
and employee retention.
Besides the Standard, Sairanen lists apps that can be used to
promote mental wellness in the workplace – for example, The
Workplace Stress Measurement app, developed by the Canadian
Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. The app poses ques-tions
that can be used by HR or employees to help highlight
wellness as a foundation of workplace harmony. But Sairanen
stressed the need for joint cooperation no matter what tools are
“It all happens as a team. Our most successful programs have
always been joint programs – joint programs that recognize all
of our contributions and our obligations, as well…and when you
have joint acceptance of programs and procedures in the work-place,
the relationship that the employer has with its employees,
and the relationship the union has with its members, are comple-mented
and blend together,” she said.
WHAT WOULD ROGERS DO?
At Rogers Communications, the conversation around wellness in
the workplace started relatively slowly. Dr. David Satok, corpo-rate
medical director at Rogers Communications, was tasked with
dealing with Rogers’ wellness program, and doing it on a shoe-string
(or nonexistent) budget. And even after getting sponsorship
money from outside parties and building websites and portals,
wellness was still not at the forefront of the company agenda.
Satok noted that after his department moved from an ROI model
of wellness towards an EVO (employee value offering) model, the
lightbulbs went on because having to deal with returns was taken
out of the equation.
“When we started talking about culture and attraction and re-tention
of employees, and then we started collaborating on it and
got HR partners such as health and safety and disability man-agement,
we were able to create a working group and steering
committee, and eventually an executive champion,” said Satok.
He also pointed to the Standard as something that allowed his
department to map its progress by providing services to employees.
“At least when we mapped it over a three-year period, we could
see the gaps and map where things fit in,” he said.
GOALS VERSUS OBJECTIVES
Getting to the point where Rogers is today starts with strategic
goals of the organization, according to Mary Ann Baynton, prin-cipal
of consulting firm Mary Ann Baynton & Associates. There
are objectives, supposedly already agreed upon by company leader-ship.
Her advice for HR professionals is to take goals and plans of
wellness and mental health in the workplace, and link them to the
strategic objectives of the company as a whole rather than start-ing
something new and adding “stress and pressure to our already
Even in companies where the strategic objectives are higher
sales, for example, Baynton said higher levels of emotional intelli-gence
is directly linked to higher sales.
“If you propose that you will work to raise the emotional intelli-gence
of the entire sales force,” said Baynton, “they’ll see the dollar
signs but you know that it also improves psychological health and
safety in the workplace.”
She stressed that most change management policies can be
viewed through the lens of psychological health and safety, which
helps support people.
“Those little things can make a difference in how your workforce
manages change,” she said.
In the grand scheme, and specifically in HR circles, issue man-agement
can be handled by implementing tools and opening joint
discussions by changing the attitude of how people view stress in
the workplace, and turning issues into solutions by getting them to
talk about what needs to be different. n
“IT ALL HAPPENS AS A TEAM. OUR MOST SUCCESSFUL PROGRAMS
HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JOINT PROGRAMS – JOINT PROGRAMS THAT
RECOGNIZE ALL OF OUR CONTRIBUTIONS AND OUR OBLIGATIONS.”
– SARI SAIRANEN, UNIFOR
32 ❚ APRIL 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL