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Mental Health Commission of Canada Releases its Manager’s Toolkit to Improve Leadership in Hybrid Work Environments

May 11, 2022

In an effort to prioritize workplace mental health and well-being, the Mental Health Commission of Canada released the Manager’s Toolkit – Leading in a Hybrid Work Environment on April 29, 2022. The initiative is designed to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and create collaborative solutions to the challenges created by hybrid workplaces.

The toolkit provides managers with practical strategies that support the mental health and well-being of everyone in the workplace, regardless of whether they are working onsite or remotely. These strategies include:

  • Addressing performance issues – The toolkit advises managers to approach conversations about performance issues with compassion. Rather than making broad statements about performance concerns, managers are advised to provide specific examples of projects or situations where employees could have performed better. Both sides should then work collaboratively to find a solution. Managers should consider providing additional training or professional development opportunities and follow up regularly to track their employee’s progress.
  • Resolving conflict – The toolkit advises managers to consider the underlying causes of an employee’s aggressive behaviour and ask if there is anything they would like to discuss. Managers should discourage gossip and rumours in the workplace, regardless of whether employees are working onsite or virtually. While it may not be as easy to spot workplace conflict or harassment in virtual settings, managers should pay attention to subtle hints that there may be issues between employees. Managers should remind their team that professional behaviour and communication are just as important in virtual settings as they are inperson. They should also encourage solutions-based discussions and check in with their team regularly. In some cases, managers may be required to bring in a mediator to resolve internal conflicts.
  • Onboarding strategies – The toolkit advises managers to create a welcome package, alongside a new employee’s onboarding plan, and to assign an onboarding “buddy” to help build connections at work. Managers should invite new employees to meetings and encourage them to speak up by asking questions and sharing ideas. Managers can also arrange meetings of different sizes and allow the team to bond over shared interests. Finally, managers should make themselves available for frequent check-ins, as communication is key in the workplace.
  • Protecting their own mental health – Managers need to recognize when their plates are too full and be honest with their supervisors. They should also use their vacation time and set clear boundaries about when they will be working and when they will not be. Finally, managers should not forget to delegate tasks and responsibilities to others, and use the resources available to them.
  • Recognizing declining mental health in employees – Managers should look for changes in the mood, behaviour, or performance of their employees, and create a safe space to talk about mental health. They should remind their team about the importance of reaching out if they are experiencing mental health issues. If an employee comes forward, managers should turn off distractions and actively listen to what they say. Managers should offer empathy and compassion, and explain that they will do what they can to help. They should regularly check-in and have meetings with their employees, and share internal and external mental health resources. In addition, they should consider suggesting The Working Mind and/or Mental Health First Aid training, both of which are provided by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

While there is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional complexities and difficulties for managers and employees alike, the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Manager’s Toolkit can assist in prioritizing mental health in the workplace. As we continue to make our way out of a global pandemic, this goal remains as important as it has ever been.