Congratulations, you have made it to the last step in setting yourself up for success with OHS Bill 30 and, ultimately, creating a psychologically safe and healthy workplace! Now you have policies in place that people are aware of and competent to enact as well as processes for identifying psychological hazards and then reporting and investigating them. The final step in the process is ensuring integration of programs, policies and communications so that the multiple people and departments who work with the policies interact efficiently. If this critical step is missed, confusion and chaos can result along with duplication of work, missed steps and hard feelings between teams.

Many different departments will need to be involved in your program to prevent bullying, harassment and other forms of psychological harm as well as your programs to address bullying and harassment hazards and claims. While this has always been the case, the addition of psychological health into safety legislation has created an increased potential for overlap in work and accountabilities. This can lead to confusion among individuals and departments as well things being missed if processes aren’t fully integrated and accountabilities clearly defined.

The main areas that are typically involved in psychological wellness / bullying and harassment programs are:

  • Health and Safety

  • Human Resources

  • Legal

  • Learning, Development and Training

  • Wellness and Disability Management

  • IT (if you have automated reporting systems)

Be sure to involve representatives from all these groups when you are building your policies, processes, communications, training and any other aspects of your program. Prior to building or updating your program, do a quick internal scan of your company to see if there are any other groups you should include.

Now that you have all the stakeholders involved, here is a list of areas to consider when ensuring all your processes and programs are integrated.

  • Clearly identify the accountabilities of each role as it relates to all areas of your programs and policies. Pay particular attention to the safety and HR roles, as this is where potential overlap and confusion may manifest as employees start identifying and reporting psychological safety hazards and incidents.

  • Create a communication plan to ensure employees, as well as safety and HR professionals, are clear on the different reporting and investigation processes for physical and psychological hazards and injuries.

  • Ensure safety, HR and corporate policies all share the same definitions, are clear on responsibilities and give the same message. It is recommended that there be a stand-alone policy that addresses workplace psychological safety as it relates to bullying and harassment that the other polices refer to.

  • Build and communicate internal processes that define where pass-offs happen between safety, human resources and other departments such as disability management. Make sure the documentation is easy to find and reviewed regularly at the outset to ensure it meets everyone’s needs.

  • Ensure accountabilities for reporting, assessing, and monitoring psychological hazards and injuries are clear to prevent duplication of work between HR, safety, disability management and any other areas involved.

  • Determine how confidentiality will be addressed when integrating these types of injuries and hazards into existing safety processes, tracking and reporting. Take extra caution not to disclose too much or breach confidences or privacy legislation.

  • Decide in advance when internal or external legal council should be involved or when external investigators will be used. These should be guidelines and not hard and fast rules as these types of situations can be delicate and the severity can escalate quickly and unexpectedly.

  • Involve your training department to make sure the same messages and information are being presented in all communication materials and training courses.

  • Update job descriptions and consider anticipated changes in workloads. Assessing, identifying, and investigating bullying, harassment and other forms of psychological injury at work will take time and resources to be done properly.

This list is a starting place for organizations when ensuring proper system-wide integration for effectively preventing, investigating and addressing factors that contribute to psychological harm in the workplace. Be sure to get representatives from all affected areas in your company to participate in identifying other considerations specific to your organization.

This blog is the 7th in our 8 part series on preparing for Bill 30 and creating psychologically healthy and safe workplaces. To read the series from the beginning and see the full checklist, click here. To jump to the previous article on effectively investigating bullying and harassment claims, click here. To read the last in the series,  an article on what is reasonable when it comes to managing employees, click here.

If you have questions on the content of this article, or would like assistance implementing any the items mentioned in this series, please contact ACTivate HR at info@activatehr.ca. We have decades of experience creating respectful workplaces and conducting workplace investigations into bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and other employee issues and would love to partner with you.

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