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.
Guarding Minds at Work is available to all employers - large or small, in the public or private sector - at no cost. Guarding Minds at Work Resources were developed so they could be implemented in-house, without the need for external support. However, for those interested in implementation or facilitation support for Guarding Minds at Work, there are outside consultants who are workplace psychological health and safety experts offering these services.
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.
Note that you will need a minimum of 10 respondents in a survey in order to generate a report.
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.
A work environment where employees feel connected to their work and are motivated to do their job well.
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.
Yes! A great way to become familiar with the assessment tool is to create and send a test survey. During the survey set up, you can select whether the survey will be used for testing only. A test survey has the same functionality as a live survey. You can send out a survey link, collect responses, and generate reports. We recommended that you include the word TEST in your survey name in order to distinguish it from any live surveys and reports.