Workplaces can be psychologicaly unsafe: survey

by | Oct 30, 2012 | News

Report indicates 71 per cent of employees have some degree of psychological concern

By Katherine Ward

Mentally healthy workplaces are important for Canadians.

When it comes to safety, a new survey indicates many workers in Canada feel their psychological safety is at risk in their workplace.

A survey issued Tuesday by the polling firm Ipsos Reid suggests seven out of 10 Canadian employees surveyed this year indicated some level of psychological concern at their job.

This is the second time the survey has been conducted, the first time being 2009.

The 2012 findings indicate 14 per cent of respondents felt as though their psychological health and safety was at risk in their work environment.

This was down from 20 per cent who said the same thing three years earlier.

“We were happy to see an improvement, but the numbers are still concerning,” Mary Ann Bayton, program director of Great West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace told Humber News.

The data identified there were 13 factors that contribute to how an employee responds to work and work conditions.

It included everything from how supported an employee felt to how a leader communicated their expectations.

“It’s not about the quantity of work necessarily,” Bayton said.

“There are times when we are working really hard and putting in extra effort and you feel like a million bucks because you are motivated, supported and energized. The reality is that it is about what goes on around the employee and what systems there are in place to deal with stressors as they arise.”

These concerns have also been noted by health care professionals.

Sleep, morale suffer

“Psychologically unhealthy environments can have many real world implications including lack of sleep, people calling in sick more often, as well as low morale and productivity,” Sherry Campbell, a psychotherapist who works with corporations, told Humber News.

“Employers are becoming more aware that to build a more in tune and productive workplace, they have to deal with these issues openly.”

Bayton said there are many online resources available for employers looking to address workplace safety.

And even though some of the survey results are concerning, she is happy more awareness is being brought to the issue.

“The reality is 10 years ago, people didn’t even know what we were talking about when we talked about a mentally healthy workplace. Now it is becoming more of a trend and I believe will be the way forward for employers and employees.”

The survey comes at a time where experts are looking to release a standard way for employers to measure well-being in the workforce.

“We wanted to get a baseline for psychological health and safety on the eve of the release of the National Stand of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace,” Bayton said.