In Canada, employers have a duty to accommodate; this means that they help workers to overcome limitations caused by disabilities. This section will cover workplace accommodation, return to work and how good accommodation can help you stay healthy and safe at work.
Staying Productive while Working From Home
Working from home has become the new normal for most workers in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic began and forced employers to rethink their working strategy. Research has shown that WFH has positive effects on the worker such as Increased Productivity, Better Performance, Fewer distractions. With WFH comes more responsibility on the worker to ensure that the work is being completed. Working from home gives us time and space to focus better in the comfort of our own home. Unfortunately, it can also lead to feelings of loneliness and social isolation when you are working alone with no colleagues around you to share thoughts or ideas. This is why having a strategy on how to effectively work from home is essential for workers to do their job as normally as possible.
Here are some tips to improve focus and your productivity while you work from home:
- Create a routine for sleep, chores, breaks, and fixed working hours. Avoid working more hours than you usually do.
- Unplug from all work devices at the end of your work hours, and put them out of site.
- Have a designated office space and workstation where you go to work each day.
- Maintain regular communication with colleagues and supervisor using video calls or phone calls.
- Try to eliminate distractions by having a schedule for the family, taking outdoor breaks, and silencing personal phone notifications.
- Create a regular to-do list with action items to create personal deadlines in the absence of physical supervision.
5 Tips for Staying Healthy @ Work as an Older Worker
According to the latest census, for the first time ever, the number of seniors exceeds the number of children aged 14 and under. This means that we are facing a labour shortage as there is less people entering the workforce and more people leaving it. Yet, employment rate for both men and women over 65 is increasing, especially after the end of mandatory retirement in 2006 . Delayed retirement is great for social security and the economy, but it may raise some questions – what about the health of senior workers like you? And are you able to perform well at you job past 65?
5 ways to stay health @ work as an older worker
Although work itself can be a health benefit to the body and mind, working safety is important for health.
- Avoid night shifts. With age, there are changes that happen in the circadian rhythm and as a result you may feel more active in the morning, unlike workers younger in age.
- Avoid working overtime. Give yourself enough time to rest and recover from the workday.
- Be in a state of anticipatory care. Learn about controlling pain and fatigue.
- Take advantage of learning opportunities. Being open to organizational change and willing to learn can lower the risk of stress from dealing with new technologies. Studies show that older workers are able to learn new information well, even if some will require extra time.
- Take care of your body – avoid smoking, eat well, keep active, and follow the safety procedures and policies in your work place.
Guidelines for Coping with a Crisis if You are a Disabled Person
Often strategies for coping with emergency situations are directed toward non-disabled people who would, for example, have the ability to take stairs to evacuate an apartment building during a power outage, easily carrying a flashlight and an emergency kit. But what if you are elderly, disabled, visually impaired or who need mobility aids? For you, the guidelines for preventing and coping with a crisis situation are different.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
- Keep a list of your personal network of friends, relatives, health care providers and neighbors who understand your special needs.
- Keep a list of facilities that provide life-sustaining equipment or treatment.
- Keep the list in an emergency kit that also includes a flashlight and a fully charged cell phone.
- Enroll in a medical alert program that will signal for help if your immobilized.
- For people who are blind or visually impaired, keep an extra collapsible cane by your bed. Attach a whistle to the cane in case you need to attract attention.
- For people who are hearing impaired, include extra batteries for your hearing aids in your emergency kit.
- If you are not evacuating and it is safe to stay in your apartment, make sure someone knows you are there and that you are safe.
- If you have a service animal make sure that you have a prepared “go bag” to ensure that they are also cared for in a crisis situation.
Chronic pain needs work accommodations
Do you feel upset or frustrated that you are unable to meet your deadlines or participate fully at work due to your chronic pain issues? Chronic pain has a widespread effect on personal, psychological, social and work life. It hinders the ability to complete tasks, makes it challenging to meet deadlines and can create negative feelings or misunderstandings at the work place. Over time, chronic pain becomes an invisible disability creating barriers in achieving goals with the need to be self-managed on an everyday basis.
An important aspect of managing chronic pain includes managing it at the work place using specific accommodations.
Work accommodations focus on improving or maintaining productivity levels and takes into account the worker’s health. Some examples of useful work accommodations include:
- Honest disclosure of challenges or change in condition with management
- Flexible and changed job design
- Replace the equipment and modify workstations
- Change task intensity and break tasks into smaller projects
- Flexible work hours and location – work from home initiative
- Support groups & resources for workers facing similar concerns
3 Steps to a Carer Friendly Workplace
35% of Canada’s workforce provide unpaid care for someone in need. Without effective workplace supports workers who balance work and care responsibilities are more likely to experience reduced performance, increased absences or they may decide to retire early or quit their jobs. This guide will help employers implement a comprehensive carer-inclusive and accommodating program which will ensure that these employees are supportive and productive.
Three Steps to a Carer-Friendly Workplace
- Step 1: Build the Foundation – This includes allocating resources, engaging workers, developing carer-friendly policies, understanding current legal requirements and meeting social and ethical responsibilities.
- Step 2: Put the Standard into Practice – This is about ensuring the elements of the standard are understood and built into the organization so that a carer inclusive culture is established and carer-employees feel supported.
- Step 3: Monitor Progress and Impact – this includes measuring ongoing effectiveness, conducting regular internal assessments and reviews and planning for continuous improvement.
Towards a Psychologically Safer Workplace
Dr. Martin Shain S.J.D. created this very informative Employers Guide which focuses on steps an employer can take to help meet the minimum requirements for providing a psychologically safe workplace. It is a great resource to get you started down the path of creating a Psychologically Safe Workplace - one in which every reasonable effort is made to protect the mental health of employees and to prevent mental injury.
In this resource you will find
- Guideline for creating a culture where employees feel safe to speak up
- Information about the key elements of interpersonal competence
- How to look for early warning signs of conflict and distress, and patterns of negative conduct among employees
- Sample Policy for Psychological Safety at Work
- Sample Policy for Workplace Harrassment
Older Canadians forgoing retirement, working through golden years: census
This Globe and Mail article discusses the trend that shows how more and more Canadians are choosing to eschew the traditional retirement age, whether for their health, their finances or just for the fun of it.
- Provides examples of what older Canadians are doing in their retirement years
- Shares census information
- the impact of a longer lifespan on retirement finances