June 23, 2022

It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new stressors into nearly every aspect of life, including work. Dubbed the “echo pandemic” by mental health experts and advocates, the toll of the ongoing public health situation on employees’ mental health is unmistakable, giving rise to real concerns about the persistent nature of the fatigue, stress, and general burnout being experienced by employees across sectors and occupations. In this session, labour relations professionals and mental health experts will provide practical guidance to workplace parties on mitigating the pandemic’s profound psychological impact on employees. Specific questions to be addressed will include:

  • How has the pandemic, as well as pandemic-induced changes to working conditions, affected employees’ mental health?
  • What signs may indicate that an employee is experiencing burnout or harmful levels of stress? How can employers and union representatives initiate a helpful conversation with an employee in distress?
  • What organizational factors increase the likelihood of employee stress or burnout? What can employers and unions do to support employees dealing with stress or burnout to help them remain at work?
  • Does the general duty under occupational health and safety legislation to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker include a duty to prevent mental harms such as stress and burnout?
  • How can employers and unions collaborate to support employees and build a psychologically healthy and safe workplace?
  • Can trauma-informed approaches help workplace leaders reduce stress and prevent burnout among employees?
  • To what degree will the pandemic result in long-term mental health impacts that will affect recruitment, retention, productivity, benefit claims, and requests for accommodation even after COVID-19 is classified as endemic? What groundwork should be laid now to deal with these issues as they arise?