October is Healthy Workplace Month, a national celebration encouraging Canadians to prioritize mental and physical health and to support a culture of respect within their workplace.
Compelling evidence provided by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the American Psychological Association, the World Health Organization, and others confirms the importance of healthy workplaces both to the economy and to human health: regardless of our role, these workplaces enable us to be more productive, to feel our work is meaningful, and to be confident that we have the space and the support to grow. Healthy workplaces actively promote inclusion, compassion, and empathy. In doing so, they help us thrive in our professional and personal lives.
Across the three campuses, our community is developing mental health resources and sharing inclusive strategies that support anti-racist and accessible work environments. Since the pandemic began, many of you have also offered creative virtual solutions to keep our teams active and to promote physical health. Thank you for all of this encouraging work: it is necessary and ongoing, and it makes a difference.
Everyone plays a role in cultivating a heathier workplace. Wherever—and however—you are currently working, please consider how the following tips might help you or your team experience a healthier way of working:
- Take regular breaks during your work day. If you can, incorporate exercise into this break time.
- Limit meetings to 45 minutes (maximum).
- Avoid sending emails on weekends.
- Collaborate in your work, honouring different opinions and life experiences.
- Keep learning. (See the Resources, Training & Supports section below.)
If you manage teams:
- Give your team members the training opportunities and resources they need to be successful.
- Involve your team members in decision-making and honour their feedback.
- Check in with your team about workloads and ensure individuals are not overwhelmed.
To mark Healthy Workplace Month, our Integrated Wellness Team at the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture has created new programming for all employees addressing the four dimensions of health: emotional, physical, social, and financial. Their popular Team Steps Challenge launches today.
I also encourage you to explore the Resources, Training & Supports section below for opportunities to build a healthier, more inclusive workplace year-round at U of T.
Resources, Training & Supports
- Anti-Racism Training & Resources: The Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office responds to the needs of the U of T community by developing and implementing a range of workshops, healing spaces, professional development courses, and modules aimed at building capacity and advancing racial equity, diversity, and inclusion at U of T.
- Cultural competency training: The Office of Indigenous Initiatives offers a range of sessions to foster Indigenous cultural competency, including Speaking Our Truths: The journey Towards Reconciliation (Part 1 and Part 2); Reconciliation: Walking the Path of Indigenous Allyship; and Reflecting on Land Acknowledgements. Employees can register for this training through the Centre for Learning, Leadership, and Culture (LLC).
- Unconscious Bias Training modules: Created in partnership with the Division of the Vice President & Provost, the Faculty of Arts & Science, the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, and the University of Toronto Mississauga, the first two Unconscious Bias Education Modules provide an important first step in foundational education and will be followed by modules exploring personal actions and systemic changes that are required to create more equitable and inclusive learning and working environments.
- Accessibility Workshops & Consultations: Contact the Accessibility For Ontarians with Disabilities Act Office at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about training and consultations. Employee online training modules are also available.
- Wellness Hub for U of T Employees
- Wellness and Work from Home Toolkit
- Support and Advice for Employees During COVID-19
- Wellness Calendar – The Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture (utoronto.ca)