Workplace Benefits to now Include Chronic Mental Stress

Benefit to Include Chronic Mental Stress
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has just issued the final version of its operational policy. Which includes recent amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to expand the scope of benefit entitlement for mental stress to include chronic mental stress. The policy came into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
These amendments come shortly after the WSIB recently made changes to their policy on pre-existing medical conditions. No longer cutting benefits for health conditions that pre-existed a workplace injury.
Chronic Mental Stress in the Workplace
Work-related chronic mental stress is defined as an appropriately diagnosed mental disorder that has been predominantly caused by a substantial work-related stressor or series of stressors. A work-related stressor is an action or task that is considered substantial if it is excessive in intensity and/or duration compared with the normal tension and strain experienced by people working in similar circumstances.
The expanded entitlement for mental stress means that all employers will need to take some additional steps to help reduce the amount of workplace stress and minimize the existence of current and substantial workplace stressors in order to limit costly stress-related lost time claims.
The policy states, A worker will generally be entitled to benefits for chronic mental stress where: 1) there is an appropriate diagnosis; and 2) where the injury is caused by a substantial work-related stressor arising out of and in the course of employment.”
It’s estimated that workplace stress is costing employers about $300 billion annually, according to an infographic created by Eastern Kentucky University’s online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program. With such an astronomical figure, it seems the right time for companies to invest fully into the health of their employees.

Educating Employees on Workplace Benefits

Thanks to people being more stressed today than ever before, employers are paying a steep price for the subsequent missed work days and health care.

The cost? About $300 billion annually as a result of workplace stress, according to an infographic created by Eastern Kentucky University’s online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program.

Stress in the Workplace

The scope of stress in the American Workplace is staggering. 40 percent of workers report their job is “very or extremely stressful,” according to a survey by the Families and Work Institute. One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives, according to a study conducted by the Northwestern National Life. Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor. Even more so than financial problems, according to a study conducted by the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co.

Workplace stress can be defined as the harmful and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.

Benefits Awareness

Most employees aren’t aware of all of their employer’s benefits to help them. Some of the less-utilized benefits include employee assistance programs (programs geared towards assistance in resolving personal, financial or emotional problems), wellness programs and resilience training, which can help overall health and help you recover from adverse circumstances.

What employers can do to help bring benefit awareness:

  • Inform employees on how to contact their payroll or human resources department to inquire about benefits.
  • Implement a company intranet website, where benefits can be posted and shared.
  • Utilize lunch room or break rooms to post benefit information on bulletin boards.
  • Hold an annual employee meeting to review all benefit offerings to your staff.
Benefits Usage

Employers can save themselves a ton of money by both educating and encouraging their employees to use the benefits available to them and how they’re able to access them. Employers should also look for ways to offer encouragement to employees on how to utilize these benefits and programs in ways that the employees feel supported. Employees should feel excited and enthused to take advantage of any offering from the company to improve their overall health.

How can you encourage employees to use their benefits?

  • In the case of an employee assistance program, ensure your employees that these program are confidential and protect their privacy.
  • With some benefits extending to immediate family members, it can be encouraging for an employee to know their loved ones can receive assistance as well.
In Conclusion

Employee health and wellness relates to more productivity, less mistakes, fewer missed days and fewer on the job injuries. When you consider the cost alternative of employees not being more knowledgeable of their benefit offerings, it seems to only make “cents” for companies to find strategies to better educate their employees on all the programs and benefits in place to help increase their overall help.

The research and the numbers say yes.