Psychological Factors

Psychological Demands
Psychological Protection
Psychological & Social Support

Psychological Demands


Psychological demands are aspects of jobs that could be a hazard to our health and wellbeing if not properly matched to our skills, knowledge, personality and emotional intelligence. This is a video created by Ottawa Public Health and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and adapted with permission from Mindful Employer Canada. (time - 3:27)

Here are some examples of psychological demands

  • Shift-work
  • Outdoor Environments
  • Travel
  • Isolation
  • Noise, lighting, temperature
  • Pressure of constant deadlines
  • Frequent personnel or procedural changes

When you are aware of psychological demands, you can prepare and respond.

What can I do as an employee?

  • Take an inventory of the psychological demands of your tasks
  • Identify areas and strategies that could reduce stress
  • Be self-aware by recognizes what triggers a stress response and how you respond to it
  • Seek out resources or try new stress-management technieques
  • Have an open discussion with your supervisor
  • Speak to colleagues about how they manage psychological demands

What can I do as a manager or supervisor?

  • Create an inventory of psychological demands for each position or task
    • Ask employees what they find demanding and stressful
  • Discuss with your employees what they need to feel supported in their role
  • Assign tasks based on the strengths and interests of team members
  • Be transparent - during the interview process, let applicants know what type of stressors they might be exposed to
  • Be aware of resources and techniques that can assist employees with managing the psychological demands of their work environment

Read more about psychological demands


Psychological Protection

Psychological protection exists in a workplace where you feel safe sharing ideas or asking questions, without being afraid of the negative consequences. This is a video created by Ottawa Public Health and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and adapted with permission from Mindful Employer Canada. (time - 3:47)







Organizations that value emotional well-being minimize or eliminate situations that can be harmful to mental health. Employees should feel comfortable and confident approaching their supervisor to express ideas or concerns without the fear of negative consequence.

Healthy organizations value employee feedback. They recognize that discussions are moments for learning, sharing and collaborating. Creating a pyschologically safe environment leads to: reduced conflict; fewer errors, accidents and injuries; a reduced number of incidents related to bullying and harrassment; and, greater overall employee satisfaction and retention.

What can I do as a manager or supervisor?

  • Build a safe environment by being non-judgmental and encouraging employee feedback
  • Create opportunities for sharing:
    • Individual consultations
    • Small-groups
    • Team or unit meetings
    • Written submissions
  • Be proactive and approach workers to ask for their opinions and feedback
  • Create and enact policies that protect employees from any negative consequences related to expressing ideas or concerns

Read more about psychological protection

Psychological & Social Support

Psychological and social support is the level of trust and connections that exist in a workplace. This video provides tips on creating a psychologically safe and healthy workplace. It was created by Ottawa Public Health and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and adapted with permission from Mindful Employer Canada. (time - 2:58)







It's important for employees to have a network of support where they feel safe and trusted. Building rapport with colleagues and creating a sense of community and shared responsibility is important when building psychological and social support.

Kindness costs nothing, but can mean everything.

What can I do to support others?

  • Develop a positive rapport with colleagues by being kind, empathetic and non-judgmental
  • Be aware of any changes in the typical behaviour of your colleagues
  • If you notice changes, show your support by offering to listen
    • Be discreet, as you don't want to make them feel uncomfortable by drawing unwanted attention
  • Thank them for confiding in you and work together to find solutions
  • Check-in on your fellow colleagues and show an interest in their wellbeing
  • As a manager or supervisor, provide flexibility whenever possible.  You may refer employees to Western's Employee (and family) Assistance Program - LifeWorks, or connect them with Employee Health & Well-being.

What can I do if I need support?

  • Inform your supervisor about your situation and are looking for support
  • If your situation is compounded by the involvement of your supervisor, confide in a colleagues or reach out to your union rep or to Rehabilitation Services
  • Be aware of the internal and community resources that are available to you

Read more about psychological and social supports

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