Workplace Wellness versus Resiliency

Happy employees

The Steps to Workplace Resiliency

Many organizations are embracing and implementing many workplace wellness initiatives such as:

  • Stress management
  • Work family conflict reduction policies
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Personal leave systems

Research is slowly illustrating that workplace wellness initiatives can be beneficial and create a loyal engaged workforce. It seems worthwhile that employers should begin to consider implementing some workplace wellness programs.

Here is another thought instead of stress management. Why not try a resiliency program in the workplace. Rich Fernandez in his Harvard Business Review (HRB) article talks about the five ways to boost resiliency at work.

This article recites current research that states stress and burnout are reaching epidemic levels in workplaces all over the world. Here are some enlightening statistics:

  • Employee depression, stress and anxiety accounted for 82.6% of all emotional health cases in Employee Assistance Programs in 2014, up from 55.2% since 2012
  • Approximately 75% of the workforce experienced moderate to high stress levels — and more specifically, 6% of employees reported feeling highly or extremely stressed at work.

There are many ways to combat any workplace problem; one way is through better organizational design and workplace stress reducing policies. There is another way as Rich Fernandez illustrates, it is to help each employee build greater resiliency. Here is his five tips based on organizational research to improve individual resiliency in the workplace:

  1. Practice mindfulness
  2. Compartmentalize Information
  3. Take detachment breaks
  4. Pause, step back and reflect
  5. Cultivate compassion

Click here to get greater details about the 5 steps to resiliency in the workplace.

Having an integrated approach to managing stress in the workplace with a combination of programs such as family friendly policies, EAP’s and resiliency training will go a long way to improve overall employee wellness.

Discussion Questions:

  1. After reading this article which of the five steps to resiliency would be easiest for you to incorporate into your own workplace behaviour? Which one do you feel would be the most difficult to embrace?
  2. Which resiliency technique do you feel would benefit you the most to reduce your own stress levels?
  3. Research organizations that have resiliency programs in the workplace. What does the research recommend employers to do to improve workplace resiliency?

Here is a Health and Safety Career for You

Woman on a wheelchair and her co-worker

Disability Management Professional Designation

Are you looking for HR career with large demand and a low supply of qualified individuals, think about a career in disability management. According to the International Association of Professionals in Disability Management (IAPDM), disability managers are a job in demand and the future looks bright. Here is some research from the IAPDM:

  • There is currently a shortage of qualified and competent return to work coordinators and disability management professionals.
  • More than 75% of employers forecast an increased demand for these individuals in the next two to five years due to an aging workforce and increasing disability costs and return-to-work obligations.
  • Employers believe that enhanced education would improve disability management outcomes.

Click here to read the complete article on Disability Management Practitioners in Demand.

There are many other factors driving demand for qualified disability managers such as

  • Increasing disability costs
  • An aging workforce
  • More government legislation on accommodation
  • The increase in mental health issues in the workplace

If you are an HR student with an interest in workplace wellness, return to work and disability management you should investigate becoming a Certified Disability Management Professional (CDMP), it is a growing career in demand.

Click here for info on Occupational Standards in Disability Management.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Research the required qualifications to become a CDMP.

    Click here to start researching.

  2. Create a five minute presentation for your VP of HR on the importance of having a disability management program in your workplace. Include a business case on the benefits for hiring a disability manager.

Treat Accidents Seriously

Injuries caused by the accident, but receive aid properly

Employers Beware of BC’s Safety Laws

Many employers do not take accident investigation seriously enough, even when critical injuries occur. Well, that may be changing in Canada. In British Columbia (BC), Bill 9, has been introduced which drastically amended the Workers Compensation Act with respect to accident investigation procedures.

Bill 9 was created after a WORKSAFEBC Special Advisor Gord Macatee reviewed two sawmill explosions that killed four workers.

For greater detail on the Macatee recommendations click here.

The new BC accident investigation procedure now includes:

  • A two part incident investigation requirement wherein employers must complete a Preliminary Investigation within 48 hours of the safety incident.


  • An employer must undertake necessary corrective action “without undue delay” to prevent a similar incident from occurring while a full investigation is being conducted. WorkSafe BC will continue to require a full investigation submitted within 30 days of the safety incident.

According to Amanda Silklier of the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Magazine (COS) states the following about Bill 9: “The new legislation is very prescriptive on what exactly the preliminary report must entail, said Harwood. Some examples include witnesses to the incident, the sequence of events that preceded the incident and circumstances of the incident that preclude the employer from addressing a particular element.”

 Click here to read Amanda Silklier’s complete article on Bill 9.

Other significant changes include the way government inspectors will investigate the accident; there will now be three separate investigation teams:

  • Team 1 Safety Officers who conduct initial investigation
  • Team 2 to determine root accident causes
  • Team 3 the Prosecution team

The above is a very comprehensive approach to ensure nothing is missed. Also, the Prosecution team will need to follow due process and obtain search warrants to gather and seize evidence.

Click here to read a complete overview of Bill 9 changes.

As you can see Bill 9 significantly changes the accident investigation landscape in BC, which may spread to the rest of Canada. Employers in all jurisdictions should now take notice and seriously committee to ensuing its internal accident investigation process is top notch before the regulatory bodies change the process for you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Pick two different provinces and research the critical injury/ accident investigation process under its Occupational Health and Safety Act. Compare them to BC’s new accident investigation process. How do they differ? How are they the same?
  2. Conduct some research on the indirect costs of workplace accidents? Use your findings to develop an accident investigation policy to meet your local provincial H&S legislation.



Debriefing after an Emergency

Diverse Business People on a Meeting

Learning from an Emergency plan gone bad.

Professor Amy C. Edmondson in her Harvard Business Review (HRB) article “Strategies for Learning from Failure” talks about strategies to improve when things go wrong; usually when a workplace emergency occurs something went wrong well before it happened.

How can we truly learn from emergency plans that do not unfold the way we expected them to?

Well there should always be a formal debrief after a workplace emergency, but what is the value of a formal debrief or root cause analysis if the organization has a culture that refuses to learn from failure. Below is a quick summary of Professor Edmondson’s ideas on how to truly learn for workplace failures.

Click here to watch the video clip and also to read the article by Professor Edmonson.

Here are her main points:

  1. The blame game – don’t play it
  2. Overcome the false dichotomy – we all state we want to get to the root cause of the problem, but we really fear the potential truth
  3. Learn the skill of how to debrief a failure
  4. Embrace early warning analysis of failure
  5. You can always learn from big or small emergencies
  6. Create an environment where people are free to speak, and frame the work accurately
  7. Have a formal control system to learn from emergencies

By implementing these ideas or strategies an organization will develop risk management behaviours such as: hazard reporting, investigating near misses before they become an emergency, and learning to prevent workplace emergencies from happening.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you believe this statement to be true “most organizations state they want to learn from mistakes, but few truly do?” If you believe it to be true, explain why? If you don’t why?
  2. Research a recent workplace emergency, practice using the 7 steps above a write up an action plan to prevent the workplace emergency.



The Precautionary Principle

How to understand risk versus the perception of risk.

Understanding risk management is a fundamental skill for any HR practitioner wishing to explore a career in Health and Safety (H&S). As the Human Resources function continues to increase its role in relation to Health and Safety, risk management is quickly becoming a core competency for any HR practitioner. By understanding risk we can actively implement controls to reduce, or better yet, eliminate safety risks for all employees in the workplace.

The following video clip which explains understanding hazard recognition, risk assessment and controls.

Source: The above content constitutes a link to the source website. Please click on the play icon to stream the video.

This video clip does a great job at summarizing the overall concept of risk management and risk assessment as it touches on terms such as:

  • Hazard
  • Risk
  • Safety
  • The Precautionary principle

If a company’s goal is to truly improve workplace safety and eliminate injuries and illnesses, it must have an effective risk management assessment system in order to drive its safety efforts. Risk assessment is a very simple concept that does not seem to get a lot of traction in the workplace. It is a powerful preventative tool that could and should be used effectively.

By developing a comprehensive risk assessment system and then implementing controls to reduce the work with the greatest risks, any organization will be able to achieve the overarching goal of reducing workplace injuries and illnesses.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As a new HR practitioner, how has this video provided you with a better understanding of: hazard recognition, assessment and control?
  2. Your company wants you to research and recommend a form to be used as a hazard assessment tool. Research different types of hazard assessment forms that are available. Select one that you think is most effective and explain why you selected it.
  3. Explain the difference between hazard assessment and risk assessment.