Managing stress for New Brunswick employers

Stress is not just a buzzword. Stress can be personal or workplace generated. There is good stress and bad stress, but the stress that affects most employees is workplace stress. Work stress is now the leading cause of worker disability in Canada.

Workplace stress is usually a result of a combination of high demands and pressures and having little control over those demands.

Did you know that stress-related absences:

  • Have increased more than 3-fold since 1995 (Statistics Canada)?
  • Cost our economy more than $4.5 Billion dollars each year (Statistics Canada)?
  • Are on average 20 days long?

Health Canada reports that every one dollar invested in stress prevention is worth $3.40 future savings.

What does stress really look like?

According to The Canadian Mental Health Association learning to recognize stress is essential because excessive stress has been linked to infectious diseases and cardiovascular problems, higher incidence of back pain, repetitive strain injuries, and cancer.

  • Changes in eating habits (weight gain or loss)
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco
  • Unusual impatience or irritation
  • Poor performance
  • Withdrawal from social contact
  • Reports of headaches, indigestion, fatigue, insomnia or frequent non-specific issues
  • Frequent absences
  • Miscommunication
  • Increased conflict between employees
  • Talk about "stress" and "pressure"

What are my duties as an employer?

An employer has a duty to investigate when there are obvious signs of stress. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy may not be sufficient for the case of preventing stress-related illnesses in the view of labour boards or Human Rights Commission. When it comes to employers' responsibility towards preventing stress-related illnesses, The Human Rights Commission has become quite assertive in its expectations regarding the prevention and alleviation of stress-related absences. Employers are expected to be vigilant and proactive.

Any employer has a duty to accommodate employees experiencing stress. (This includes personal stressors if it affects work performance).