New CMHA toolkit supports employees, employers with planning psychologically-safe return to the workplace

August 29, 2020  

As Ontario’s economy gradually re-opens during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new toolkit is now available to support employers and employees in navigating the mental health implications of returning to physical workplaces.

Developed by Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division, in partnership with Mental Health Works and BounceBack Ontario, Return to the workplace: A psychological toolkit for heading back to work aims to serve employees and employers across a variety of sectors. This toolkit provides guidance on how to support the mental health of individuals as they plan safe transitions back into their workplaces and to help employers as they develop policies and procedures for supporting staff returning to the work environment.

For employees, anxiety about returning to the previous ways of working and engaging with others is natural and expected. This toolkit aims to support employees currently working from home and struggling with thoughts about returning to the workplace. It contains information about the common emotions people may be feeling as they think about returning to their workplace and guides readers through coping strategies.

Just as employees may be struggling with thoughts about returning to the workplace, employers are having to consider several elements that need to be addressed as part of return-to-work planning. This may range from creating physical safety and infection control in the physical workspace, to considering possible risks as employees enter and leave their offices, to the impact on productivity. This toolkit takes the employer perspective into consideration with guidelines that may help them take their employees’ mental health into consideration as they plan for a safe return to the workplace.

“The pandemic has created new challenges for nearly everyone and we recognize a physical return to work may add to the existing stress or anxiety people are feeling at this time, which is why we created this toolkit,” said CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville. “Providing accommodations to help your employees during a return-to-the-workplace process doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple things like communicating well and listening to the needs of your staff can help ease concerns and help employees come back to the workplace with a positive mindset.”

Return to the workplace: A psychological toolkit for heading back to work is also available in French.

Fast facts:

  • According to research released by CMHA Ontario in May, 59 per cent on Ontarians are finding it hard to be productive while in self-isolation, despite trying to make a daily routine.
  • CMHA Ontario’s research indicated those who are employed are more likely to say they have a routine and at least somewhat follow it (51 per cent).
  • A recent study by Deloitte found that for every $1 spent on mental health promotion or initiatives in the workplace, participating organizations saw a $1.63 return on investment.