February 7, 2017

According to a 2010 Statistics Canada survey, 27% of Canadian workers described their day-to-day lives as highly stressful. In a 2015 survey of Canadian workplaces conducted by Morneau Shepell, 30% of employees indicated that they experience extreme work stress and 35% of employers noted a high level of workplace stress within their organization. In addition to the negative repercussions that prolonged periods of excessive stress can have on an individual’s physical and mental well-being, high levels of workplace stress also threaten to undermine employee productivity, increase workplace absenteeism, and elevate health and benefit costs. In this session, Lancaster’s seasoned experts will discuss how to effectively recognize and respond to stress, overload, and burnout in the workplace. Topics to be discussed include:

  • Understanding stress, overload, and burnout: How is stress defined by medical authorities? What is the difference between the stress that is inherent in any job and stress that is harmful to an employee’s health? What do people mean when they talk about overload, or burnout? How common are stress, overload, and burnout among Canadian workers? What are the costs to the employer of allowing stress levels to build up unfettered in the workplace? What are the common causes of workplace stress, overload, and burnout? Is extreme stress/overload/burnout more prevalent in certain positions or industries?
  • Recognizing the symptoms: What are the most common warning signs that an employee is experiencing harmful levels of stress in the workplace? What are some signs of overload and burnout that are likely to be evident in someone’s behaviour at work?
  • Fulfilling the duty to accommodate: Is stress a recognized mental health disability giving rise to the duty to accommodate in law? What are the employer and union’s human rights obligations towards an employee experiencing overload or burnout? What is the scope of an employer’s duty to accommodate when an employee claims that ordinary stress inherent in a job aggravates another recognized disability? If an employee is disabled from performing certain job duties because of personal (non-work-related) stress, what is the scope of the employer’s duty to accommodate? How should an employer respond when an employee claims that her or his misconduct was caused by stress, burnout, or overload?
  • Reducing stress in the workplace: What best practices can be adopted to prevent, reduce or eliminate stress, overload and burnout in the workplace? What is the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary intervention strategies for managing workplace stress? How can employers and unions best utilize each of these strategies to address excessive stress levels in the workplace? What role does the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace have in preventing and reducing unhealthy workplace stress?
  • Compensation entitlements: What types of stress claims are compensable under workers’ compensation legislation? Can an employee claim short-term or long-term disability benefits for stress, overload, or burnout in the workplace? What damages have been awarded for failure to accommodate stress-related disabilities? Are aggravated or punitive damages available when an employer’s failure to properly accommodate an employee causes the employee additional mental harm?