Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Inquiries

Guarding Minds at Work is a unique, fully accessible and free, comprehensive set of resources designed to protect and promote psychological health and safety in the workplace. Guarding Minds at Work resources allow employers to effectively assess and address the 13 psychosocial factors known to have a powerful impact on organizational health, the health of individual employees, and the financial bottom line. Guarding Minds at Work was developed by researchers from the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA) within the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University on the basis of extensive research, including data analysis of a national sample and reviews of national and international best practices, as well as existing and emerging Canadian case law and legislation.

Resources related to physical health and safety are readily available in most workplaces, but there are very few resources available to help protect psychological health and safety. Guarding Minds at Work was developed to help fill that gap. Guarding Minds at Work provides human resource professionals, managers, supervisors, union representatives, and small or mid-sized business owners the resources they need to effectively assess psychological health and safety in their workplace, undertake appropriate interventions, and measure the effectiveness of their actions. It answers the questions Where do we "begin?" and "Where can we best use our limited resources?" Guarding Minds at Work can also help with the implementation of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety.

Resources related to physical health and safety are readily available in most workplaces, but there are very few resources available to help protect psychological health and safety. Guarding Minds at Work was developed to help fill that gap. Guarding Minds at Work provides human resource professionals, managers, supervisors, union representatives, and small or mid-sized business owners the resources they need to effectively assess psychological health and safety in their workplace, undertake appropriate interventions, and measure the effectiveness of their actions. It answers the questions Where do we "begin?" and "Where can we best use our limited resources?" Guarding Minds at Work can also help with the implementation of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety.

Guarding Minds at Work was designed to be used by employers across Canada, regardless of business type. Guarding Minds at Work will be useful to anyone in the workplace with responsibilities or concerns about psychological health and safety at work - human resource professionals, managers, supervisors, consultants, union representatives, and small or mid-sized business owners. The Guarding Minds at Work Resources are simple to understand, easy to implement, and require no special training.

Guarding Minds at Work was commissioned by the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, funded by the Great-West Life Assurance Company, and developed by experienced research-practitioners from the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA) within the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada (Guarding Minds at Work 2009: Samra, J., Gilbert, M., Shain, M., Bilsker, D.; Guarding Minds at Work 2012: Gilbert, M., Bilsker, D. Shain, M., Samra, J.; Guarding Minds at Work 2018: Gilbert, M., Bilsker, D. Shain, M., Samra, J.).

The Guarding Minds at Work website is operated, hosted and maintained by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). CCOHS also provides English and French email and telephone support for Guarding Minds at Work users, in consultation with developers as needed. CARMHA, the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, and CCOHS collaborate to increase utilization of Guarding Minds at Work by raising awareness and understanding of Guarding Minds at Work and its importance, and by promoting Guarding Minds at Work as a leading organizational resource supporting psychological health and safety in the workplace.

Psychosocial factors are elements that impact employees' psychological responses to work and work conditions, potentially causing psychological health problems. Psychosocial factors include the way work is carried out (deadlines, workload, work methods) and the context in which work occurs (including relationships and interactions with managers and supervisors, colleagues and coworkers, and clients or customers).

PF1: Psychological Support
A work environment where coworkers and supervisors are supportive of employees' psychological and mental health concerns, and respond appropriately as needed.

PF2: Organizational Culture
A work environment characterized by trust, honesty and fairness.

PF3: Clear Leadership & Expectations
A work environment where there is effective leadership and support that helps employees know what they need to do, how their work contributes to the organization, and whether there are impending changes.

PF4: Civility & Respect
A work environment where employees are respectful and considerate in their interactions with one another, as well as with customers, clients and the public.

PF5: Psychological Competencies & Requirements
A work environment where there is a good fit between employees' interpersonal and emotional competencies and the requirements of the position they hold.

PF6: Growth & Development
A work environment where employees receive encouragement and support in the development of their interpersonal, emotional and job skills.

PF7: Recognition & Reward
A work environment where there is appropriate acknowledgement and appreciation of employees' efforts in a fair and timely manner.

PF8: Involvement & Influence
A work environment where employees are included in discussions about how their work is done and how important decisions are made.

PF9: Workload Management
A work environment where tasks and responsibilities can be accomplished successfully within the time available.

PF10: Engagement
A work environment where employees feel connected to their work and are motivated to do their job well.

PF11: Balance
A work environment where there is recognition of the need for balance between the demands of work, family and personal life.

PF12: Psychological Protection
A work environment where employees' psychological safety is ensured.

PF13: Protection of Physical Safety
A work environment where management takes appropriate action to protect the physical safety of employees.

For more information on the 13 Psychosocial Factors in Guarding Minds at Work, click here.

The 13 Psychosocial Factors were determined via a Grounded Theory approach, which involved a thorough review of relevant literature and extensive consultation with Canadian employers, unions and employees. This included the following steps:

  • Review of the scientific literature pertaining to workplace mental health.
  • Review of relevant Canadian regulatory and case law pertaining to the workplace and psychological safety.
  • Formation of an advisory committee which provided input on each step of the development of Guarding Minds at Work.
  • The committee consisted of representatives from the mental health, scientific, union, occupational health and employer communities.
  • Consultation with experts in workplace mental health from countries and jurisdictions with well-developed workplace psychosocial risk assessment resources.
  • Implementation of focus groups across Canada with key stakeholders – legal professionals, union representatives, small and large employers, employees and researchers – to provide input into the description and relevance of the psychosocial factors.
  • Implementation of a national survey amongst a diverse array of informants to gain input into the description and sample questions for each of the 13 Psychosocial Factors.

The 13 Psychosocial Factors are consistent with domains identified by a large body of research as areas of fundamental psychosocial risk; the definitions and language used here are unique to Guarding Minds at Work. For each of the factors, lower scores indicate greater risk to employee psychological health and organizational psychological safety; higher scores indicate greater employee and organizational resilience and sustainability. The factors are interrelated and therefore influence one another; positive or negative changes in one factor are likely to change other factors in a similar manner.

You're welcome to use the website materials however we ask that you do not alter the wording of the content. When you are using the material, you must include the following citation: Guarding Minds at Work. Gilbert, Bilsker, Shain & Samra, 2018.

Psychological Health and Safety Within My Organization

A psychologically healthy and safe workplace is one that promotes employees' psychological well-being and actively works to prevent harm to employee psychological health due to negligent, reckless or intentional acts.

The failure to adequately address psychosocial hazards at work is apparent in the escalation of disability claims based on depression or "stress", increased reports of workplace conflict, and decreased levels of job satisfaction, health and commitment. These, in turn, lead to reduced performance, higher turnover, increased costs and compromised safety. If they are not dealt with appropriately, the net result may well be loss of customers, productivity and valued employees. On the other hand, proper awareness and attention to ensuring the psychological health of workers and the workforce will yield enhanced employee engagement and well-being and organizational effectiveness and sustainability.

Absolutely. Psychologically healthy employees are more productive and have significantly lower absenteeism and disability rates. The economic impact of mental health problems on Canadian business is estimated at tens of billions of dollars annually, due to lost productivity, accidents/injuries, and short and long-term disability rates. The goal of Guarding Minds at Work is to minimize such impacts on an organization. You can implement Guarding Minds at Work with full confidence that you are, not only supporting the health and well-being of employees, but also helping to ensure a thriving and profitable enterprise. This is especially true during difficult economic times, when the financial impacts of absenteeism, disability, or legal/regulatory sanctions are more difficult to absorb.

All Guarding Minds at Work Resources are available online at no cost. Guarding Minds at Work is designed to be quick and efficient to implement. In the Guarding Minds at Work Assessment stage, employers might choose the brief Guarding Minds at Work Initial Scan (2-3 minutes to complete) and to get a quick snapshot of employee work experiences. Or, they might select the comprehensive Guarding Minds at Work Survey (15-20 minutes to complete) along with the Guarding Minds at Work Organizational Review – this is the recommended approach. The Guarding Minds at Work Action and Evaluation phases require dedicated time and effort - however, experience shows that the beneficial results far outweigh this expenditure of resources.

If you need additional help to implement, adapt or interpret Guarding Minds at Work to meet your particular organizational needs, expert consultation is available. There is a cost for this service. Please contact us for further information.

Once your survey period is complete, you will be able to generate a report from your Dashboard.

At this time, the Survey cannot be modified. If the language does not suit your organization, you are encouraged to clarify definitions and/or language ahead of sending the link to the Survey. For example, who is considered a supervisor versus who is a manager might be different for each organization.

Accessing the Guarding Minds at Work Resources

We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the 8 steps, starting with Know the 13 Psychosocial Factors, before you implement Guarding Minds at Work at your workplace. It is important to take these steps sequentially. If you wish, you may download a PDF version of "How to Prepare to Implement Guarding Minds at Work."

The Guarding Minds at Work Dashboard is a secured login section that allows Organizational Representatives to administer Surveys and generate Reports that will provide a visual summary of the Survey Results. If you would like to use these resources and are an Organizational Representative we encourage you to sign up for the Dashboard, at no cost.

All resources (including sample Reports) are available for download in the Resources section of the website, which does not require a Dashboard signup to access. To administer Surveys, however, an Organizational Representative must sign up for the Dashboard.

No, only an Organizational Representative who is planning on administering Guarding Minds at Work Surveys needs to sign up for the Dashboard. Each Dashboard account is limited to one Organizational Representative. This Representative will generate and email the survey link to their employees. You cannot have more than one Representative per account.

You decide how long you wish to administer your Survey. We recommend a Survey cycle period of 2-4 weeks, but make sure to consider what else is going on in your workplace. By default, each Survey closes automatically at 11:59 pm (your local time), one year from when it was created, but you can edit the closing date as needed. For more guidance on running a survey, please refer to the PDF on "How to Conduct a Guarding Minds at Work Online Survey Successfully."

Yes. You can distribute paper copies of the Survey and manually enter the results of each survey. To print copies of the survey login to your Dashboard and click on the Print/Save a Copy on the bottom right under your Survey name (in the Active Surveys section). To assure the anonymity and confidentiality of employees completing the Survey by paper, we suggest that you designate a place accessible to all employees where the surveys will be made available, as well as a locked box (similar to a ballot box) where completed surveys can be dropped. Once you are ready to complete the survey, collect any completed paper surveys from the box and enter the data manually by clicking on Manual Input on the bottom right under your Survey name. Important note: you will not be able to enter any data manually once you close your Survey, so make sure to enter all data before the closing date.

Yes. You can distribute paper copies of the Survey and manually enter the results of each survey. To print copies of the survey login to your Dashboard and click on the Print/Save a Copy on the bottom right under your Survey name (in the Active Surveys section). To assure the anonymity and confidentiality of employees completing the Survey by paper, we suggest that you designate a place accessible to all employees where the surveys will be made available, as well as a locked box (similar to a ballot box) where completed surveys can be dropped. Once you are ready to complete the survey, collect any completed paper surveys from the box and enter the data manually by clicking on Manual Input on the bottom right under your Survey name. Important note: you will not be able to enter any data manually once you close your Survey, so make sure to enter all data before the closing date.

Information provided by the Organizational Representative and all Guarding Minds at Work Survey data will be kept on a secure server in Canada and is strictly confidential. The Guarding Minds at Work Survey data will be kept anonymous and reported in the aggregate only; individual-level data will not be released.

Furthermore, Guarding Minds at Work Survey data will be used for research purposes by the Guarding Minds at Work Project Team only with the explicit consent from the Organizational Representative and each individual employee. The Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and researchers will receive a monthly report of Guarding Minds at Work users. No individual users or organizations will be identified.

Languages Available

Yes, a French version of Guarding Minds at Work is available. Click on the Français link in the top left corner. You can run a bilingual survey using one survey link. You will need to instruct your employees to open the link and then toggle to the French view to complete the survey. All the survey responses – English and French - will be captured in the same report.

At this time, Guarding Minds at Work is only available in English and French.

Contact Us

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Contact Us

Guarding Minds at Work will help you make meaningful and lasting advances in workplace psychological health and safety.

Please contact us if you would like further information.

Guarding Minds at Work

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

135 Hunter Street East Hamilton ON Canada L8N 1M5

Phone Number: 1-800-668-4284 or 905-570-8094

Fax: 905-572-4500