May 15, 2018
By Myscha Stafford
LO Membership and Chapter Coordinator

Myscha StaffordSpring is a very stressful time for green professionals! The late arrival of spring has companies running behind a couple of weeks and staff returning after a long winter lay off have gone extra time without consistent income. They will also have to work even longer hours to try and make up for lost time at an already super busy time of year.

With all this stress, it’s important to think about your own mental health and that of your employees. Can you recognize the signs of an employee struggling with mental health? Can you navigate conversations around mental health? What resources does your company offer to employees around mental health? What strategies do you have in place for them to get help? As a business owner, helping employees overcome and cope with things like depression and addiction are your responsibility under employment laws in Ontario.

May 7-13 marks the 67th Mental Health Week hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Mental health is just as important as physical health. Statistics say one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem this year.

As a business owner, the mental health of your staff has potential costs to your company. According to Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS), mental health accounts for 30 per cent of short- and long-term disability claims and costs the economy $51 billion annually. To add to this, 85 per cent of employers rank stress as their top workforce risk. Add the risks of operating heavy machinery and equipment on a job site and the daily stressors of personal life, and that’s a lot of stress your staff are coping with.

Earlier this year, many LO chapter meetings across the province discussed mental health in the workplace. WSPS is a strong ally to the landscape and horticulture profession and can provide training opportunities, including workshops for managers (and forepersons), as well as consulting services to implement strategies and safeguards to manage mental health in the workplace.

Deborah Connors, a CMHA certified psychological health and safety advisor, leading Canadian workplace coach, speaker, and author suggests seven practices to improve mental health and promote a healthy, productive work environment. Five of her points are incredibly relevant to all employees and business owners alike:
Increase positive emotions. Practice gratitude by writing down three things you’re grateful for every day. Incorporate this into your tailgate talks or team meetings. It releases stress, creates a positive work environment and will bring your team closer together.

Ask yourself transformational questions such as, “What can I start doing on a daily basis that will help me achieve my goal?” These types of questions will help your staff stay motivated, encourage productivity as they work towards a goal, as well as feeling integrated and valued in the company.

Take real breaks, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time. Allowing yourself frequent, short breaks and a change of pace such as a quick walk, or switching to a different type of task will energize you and enable you to refocus.

Move from a “vicious” cycle to a resilient cycle. The example Connors uses sounds like your average spring day for a landscaping company; “When the going gets tough, I just put my head down and work harder and longer to get the job done.” For short periods of time this might be okay, but for sustained periods (like spring) this just makes you more tired and a less effective employee. Make sure you continue to take time for yourself outside of work for important things like eating properly, sleeping, family time, etc.

How stressed are you are at work? Connors suggests completing the Guarding Minds at Work initial scan: a six-item questionnaire ( that indicates how stressed or satisfied you are at work. These results can help you to develop strategies to manage stress at work.

Connors’ suggestions can easily be implemented into your company policies and practices. They will result in more engaged employees and you will be helping to contribute to the overall well-being of your staff. Being trained in mental health awareness will have positive effects on your company. By incorporating strategies into your workplace that recognize the mental health needs of staff, you will have fewer absentees, a more productive and effective team, and staff who are committed to a company that is making an effort to care for its workers. Who would want to leave a job like that?
More resources and helpful articles can be found on the WSPS website at and at

Myscha Stafford can be reached at or 1-800-265-5656 ext.2333.