Queen's University IRC

Research Briefs – January 2017

Queen’s University IRC - Research Briefs

   Bringing Practitioner-Focused Research to People Management Practitioners

Jan. 2017   

 

 
 

In This Issue…

  1. Invisible Barriers: Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace
  2. Understanding Generational Differences in the Workplace: Findings and Conclusions
  3. Flashback Feature:
    Workplace Change in Canada: Union Perceptions of Impacts, Responses and Support Systems
 Celebrating 175 years at Queen’s University 
 

Invisible Barriers: Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace
Deborah Hudson, Lawyer, Turnpenney Milne LLP, 2016

Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada.(1) In fact, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are not able to work due to mental health problems in any given week.(2) Twenty percent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and it is likely that all of us will be directly or indirectly impacted by mental illness through family members, friends or colleagues.(3) As Canadians and medical professionals increase awareness and understanding regarding mental illness, our workplace and human rights laws similarly evolve in attempts to protect mental illnesses like any other disability. While our laws strive to provide adequate workplace protections in relation to mental illness, the art of managing mental health accommodations remains challenging for employers and employees alike.

Visible or physical disabilities can often be easier to understand and to accommodate. Defined physical restrictions or recovery periods provide finite terms which are easier to address and are easier to accept as legitimate needs. Accommodating the invisible barriers presented by mental illness often remains far more challenging. Many persons experiencing mental illness may not wish to share details in the workplace, fearing stigmatization, embarrassment or privacy issues. Other persons may lack awareness that they are undergoing a health-related issue. For example, those struggling with addiction may have little or no self-knowledge that a medically recognized disability drives their compulsion to use. Adults experiencing their first episode related to mental illness may not recognize the signs and symptoms until weeks, months or years after the occasion.

Employers face a variety of different but equally challenging situations. For instance, when an employee silently struggles, employers may be tasked with difficult conversations to ensure adequate inquiry while not overreaching.

>> Download Article

Understanding Generational Differences in the Workplace: Findings and Conclusions
Tania Saba, Professor, School of Industrial Relations, Université de Montréal, 2013

The study of generational differences has garnered increasing interest among organizations, practitioners and researchers in recent years. There are many reasons for this keen interest, including the need to manage people from several different generations, to better adapt the workplace to a multigenerational workforce, to attract and retain new talent, and to identify the working conditions that will lead to positive attitudes and behaviours among younger workers.

Since workers from different generations have always worked together, why does this situation currently appear to be raising challenges for human resource management? Three reasons are put forward. First, the different generations are said to have different values and expectations regarding work which are not easily compatible. Second, people from different generations are working together for longer periods now than they did in the past. Workers are less likely to follow the clear cut studies-work-retirement path that was formerly standard. People leave their jobs, upgrade their skills, look for new jobs, change careers, retire and then, increasingly, re-enter the labour market. Third and lastly, the difficulties stemming from this situation are brought about by discrepancies in the management practices of companies themselves. Stable, high-quality jobs are becoming scarce. Employees are no longer accumulating the funds needed to ensure financial security during retirement and find themselves having to work longer. Those who have invested in enhancing their skills and who have had unstable careers are staying in the workforce longer or taking advantage of bridge employment opportunities which delay their exit from the labour market.

In this research report, we will show that generational differences are a myth and have very little empirical support. Following a contextual overview, we will discuss the theoretical and analytical frameworks that have been used to explain the differences between the generations. We will end with some conclusions.

>> Download Article

Flashback Feature:
Workplace Change in Canada: Union Perceptions of Impacts, Responses and Support Systems
Pradeep Kumar, Gregor Murray & Sylvain Schetagne, 2000

Workplaces in Canada have experienced a wide variety of changes over the past two decades. There is growing evidence that they are becoming increasingly lean, insecure, stressful, unsafe and highly controlled. While there has been considerable analysis of workplace change and its effect on workers and firm performance, much less is known about the impact on unions. This paper presents highlights of the results of a major survey of unions on their perceptions of the impact of change initiatives and their responses to these initiatives.

>> Download Article

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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