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Healthy Employees = Healthy Organizations

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

Your best resources are human, and in this post we discuss how employers can address employees’ expectation that their workplace partners with them to promote good health. This is a summary of our January session.

This session addressed seven facets of wellbeing:

Download this list of resources available to your team or your loved ones.

Healthy Employees = Healthy Organization
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Prioritizing employee wellbeing is more critical than ever. We are living at a time where workplaces became inextricably linked with employee health.

We’ve gathered a collection of resources available to your organization – from free, publicly available options, resources that may already be a part of your plan, and some resources that can be added with some additional investment.

Facets of wellbeing aren’t limited to a single point on the circle of wellbeing. For our teams to be engaged with our workplaces, it’s best to address as many of these points as possible. We are excited to share some ways you can get started.

Mental Health

Recent studies show some important findings about mental health in the workplace:

  • 50% of millennials and 75% of Gen Z employees have left a job for mental health reasons. (Mindshare Partners, 2018)

  • 57% of Canadian employees and managers were struggling with a mental health issue (Morneau Sheppell, 2018)

  • Since the pandemic began, there has been 30% increase in the expression of suicidal ideation. (Homewood Health)

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: -Technology can make it possible to provide employees with easy to access on demand virtual solutions. On line therapy through a secure text and audio or video platform can be as effective as face-to-face therapy.

Snapclarity can be added to your plan to help plan members access qualified mental health therapists on demand and for a cost similar to an Employee Assistance Program. This is available through our myHSA program.

Text 4 Hope: free from Alberta Health Services, simply text 393939 and enter the service that you are interested in:


  • Text4Hope

  • Text4Mood

  • Open2Change to subscribe to the addiction program

  • CancerCare to subscribe to the cancer program

Standard text message rates do apply, but there is an online version of the content if the cost of text messaging is a barrier for some people.

Help in Tough Times from Alberta Health Services: This resource is available for anyone dealing with floods and fires to loss of employment. We recommend bookmarking the site in case an emergency situation arises with you or someone from your team.

TogetherAll is also a free site for all Albertans ages 16 and over. After registering with a postal code, you can access a safe and vibrant online community where individuals remain anonymous to each other and can draw strength and insights from others that have gone through similar life experiences.

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health: This free site supports the creation of an organizational framework for improving psychological health and safety in the workplace. You may wish to reference the monthly wellness calendar. New content is being added all the time.

Violence at Home

Employee and Family Assistance programs have reported an increase in utilization due to domestic abuse and family sexual violence. It is really important to build awareness around how employees and their dependents can get help.

Occupational health and safety legislation does apply to home offices in the same way as traditional workplaces, and employers have a duty of care to ensure the safety of workers affected by domestic violence.

When an employer becomes aware – or ought reasonably to be aware – of domestic violence, the employer must take steps to protect the employee.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation has developed a sign for help that someone can use to signal that they are dealing with violence at home.

Promoting the use and recognition of this simple act can be just what your team needs to be able to understand that there is help if they need it.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Make sure employees know that assistance and resources are available

  • Have a workplace violence policy that includes a clear statement addressing domestic violence and set out a confidential reporting process for employees who are hesitant to come forward

  • Be sensitive to warning signs of an abusive home life. Performance deficiencies, lack of initiative or heightened absenteeism could give an employer “constructive knowledge” and trigger the obligation to make inquiries.

  • Highlight with supervisors and managers the increased risk of domestic violence due to work-at-home conditions and assist with recognizing warning signs.

  • Encourage regular check-ins and one-to-one meetings

  • Confirm that employees understand that if they reach out for support, it will be treated as confidential and will not impact employment.

  • Be prepared to act quickly with the assistance of authorities, if necessary. Become familiar with local resources and police contact information to help with a quick response.

  • Follow up with employees where there are signs of domestic abuse.

Financial Wellbeing

Only 12% of workers said they had a high level of financial stress before the pandemic, but that number has increased to 28%. Financial stress reduces productivity. Increasing the level of financial literacy and helping provide the resources your employees will need in retirement need not be expensive.

SmartPath Now is a free resource available to anyone. It is sponsored by Canada Life and offers free resources to help understand the need to prepare for retirement.

Momentum's Money Management Courses are also free to registrants. The topics range from budgeting to consumerism and Registered Education Savings Programs (RESPs).

Deferred Profit Sharing Plans: Most people are familiar with Group savings plans that include matched RRSP, but a Deferred Profit Sharing plan could be an option especially in this current environment.

Employees are still saving for retirement via convenient payroll deductions, but employers only match employee contributions in the event that the organization turns a profit. This alignment between personal and organizational goals is so key to help ensure that folks are all pulling in the same direction.

Physical Wellbeing

We do know that focus on wellness is an excellent way to attract and retain employees and leads to lower health care costs.

Working remotely and not having gyms open has disrupted the routines of many people. But there are still ways to support fitness, nutrition, and change for the better.

Pocketpills: Can increase drug adherence because plan members receive pre-packaged doses of their medications. Registering for this program can also lower drug costs for your organization.

PillCheck: Pharmacogenetic testing that can reduce the incidence of adverse side effects, lengthy processes of finding the right medication for a mental health concern. This service is available for a discounted rate for Canada Life clients or for a fee.

Our myHSA platform has introduced a number of great add-ons:

  • Alavida: substance use management

  • Cyno Virtual Wellness Platform: Fitness, nutrition, and mental wellbeing

  • GutCheck: Food intolerance kit that uses hair samples to uncover foods that might be causing digestive symptoms.

Occupational Health

Workplace learning initiatives like training programs, paying for courses or events, and mentoring are such a great way to attract and retain top talent.

  • Implement a formal or informal mentorship program: Consider pairing mentors and mentees based on skills and development needs.

  • Outline and track formal goals and objectives: so that people know that career development need not stop.

  • Ask managers to share what is working with their teams

  • Expand taxable wellness accounts: to include the cost of professional development courses

The current pandemic has offered leaders an opportunity to address occupational wellbeing on a variety of levels:

  • Communicate in a way that balances optimism and realism

  • Empower team members to adapt to remote work environments

  • Adopt HR Policies that support the needs of a diverse workforce facing diverse challenges

  • Reallocate resources to match adjusted priorities and invest in employee well-being

  • Engage with employees to validate their contributions and the relevance of their work

Environmental Wellbeing

This is defined as fostering positive interrelationships between planetary Health and Human actions, choices, and wellbeing.

  • 9 out of 10 employees would be willing to take a job with less pay if it meant that their work would be more meaningful

  • Employees who find purpose in their jobs are 69% more likely to remain at their job.

myCharity offers employers an opportunity to engage their team with corporate giving. It is available through the myHSA platform.

There are three easy steps to connect your team with corporate giving:

  1. Set a budget per employee

  2. Allow employees to make donations to the causes that are most important to them via CanadaHelps

  3. Organization receives a tax receipt

Social Wellbeing

Creating social spaces even when they are apart is crucial to developing the bonds that make working with one another meaningful. Showing compassion can be as simple as asking someone how they are doing and then really listening to what they are saying.

Telus International set up weekly fitness challenges where people were encouraged to share their best routines for keeping fit and best sleeping habits. The organization then selected the best of the best and recognized those.

One of our clients hired a local pianist to play during team meetings to help fill in those awkward pauses – and to support a local artist.

Here are some practical tips for highlighting social wellbeing:

  • Encourage a buddy system: Where employees are paired with someone they connect with daily – preferably someone who could be a mentor

  • Really connect with your team: Show compassion and interest in their lives.

  • Book Club: A virtual book club could give employees a way to connect outside of work hours.

  • Photo Sharing: Share a photo of a pet (or a wild animal)

  • Awesome Teammate Challenge: Employees could submit a picture of a colleague and describe what made them awesome, competing for prizes.

  • Virtual Board Game Nights: Examples include “Code Names” and “Just One”

  • Don’t ignore usual gatherings: This could mean office celebrations for birthdays or baby showers.

Spiritual Wellbeing

A Google Engineer developed the Search Inside Yourself program back in 2007. It’s now become a worldwide phenomenon available to individuals, organizations, and communities in over 50 countries.

Chade-Meng defines spirituality using five main points:

  1. Purpose and Meaning

  2. Ethics and fairness

  3. Growth and passion

  4. Collaboration and personal relationships

  5. Transparency and openness

Incorporating spirituality into your workplace need not be as complicated as you may think. Here are some ideas:

  • Encourage mindful leadership practices that support the growth of all employees

  • Consider including spiritual values such as integrity, compassion, honesty, gratitude in your firm’s core values

  • Provide opportunities for employees to find meaning and purpose in their work by helping them explore personal values

  • Encourage transparency and openness by integrating your organization’s core values with business decisions

  • Incorporate spirituality into your wellness program

  • Create a collaborative, inclusive work environment that helps your team feel connected to one another

  • Find ways to support and give back to the wider community

As you can see, there are many paths available to support your team's wellbeing. Let us know how we can help you take the first steps towards a healthier workplace!


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