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12 gifts of safety

Each year for the past 12 years I have worked with and shared Bill Wilkerson's 12 Gifts of Christmas. Wilkerson is the founder of the Business and Economic Roundtable On Mental Health and Addiction in the Workplace. He has recently founded Mental Health International and is it's executive chairman. As we celebrate the holiday season let us take quiet time to refresh ourselves regardless of where we are and what we are doing — pause to reflect for a few moments — fill ourselves up with thanks and love. Let’s give thanks for those that continue to work to ensure we are safe and healthy. And, let us work to make work safe and healthy for all and for the whole person.

Here then is this year’s list of 12 gifts we can all give our fellow workers this year:

The Gift of Helping Out: Be observant and ask your neighbour at work if he or she could use some help.

The Gift of Sharing Success: Share the work and share the credit.

The Gift of Awareness: Employers, be especially aware that pregnant women still on the job are vulnerable to job stress at this time of year.

The Gift of Empathy: Income tax, bank and call centre staff, be extra patient, clear and thoughtful, not legalistic, bureaucratic or rigid in your dealings with everyone at this time of year. Christmas is not a joyful time for the isolated and vulnerable.

The Gift of Clarity: Managers: make doubly sure your people know what you expect of them; invite your people to ask questions.

The Gift of Job Fulfillment: Employers, remember this: a paycheck buys bread for the table. Job fulfillment buys bread for the soul. Give your employees the tools and time they need to do their job so they are fulfilled by it.

The Gift of Personal Contact: The casualties of stress mount daily from information overload and discourteous or uninvited emails. Employers, take steps to Liberate your people from email enslavement and texting trauma this Christmas.

The Gift of Inclusion: More than ever, include your co-workers and employees in meetings, going to lunch, sharing information, the stuff that empowers everyone. Emotional isolation predicts depression.

The Gift of Listening: The most precious gift of all: give it to someone each and every day.

The Gift of Fairness: Employer fairness determines employee morale. In turn, employee morale is a stronger predictor of future corporate performance than financial results. So, employers, invest in your business through the gift of fairness.

The Gift of Explanation: Employees are worried about their future. Employers, hold holiday workshops, talk about plans for the future, be clear, honest and explain what needs explanation. Embedded uncertainty in the workplace eats into profit.

The Gift of Being at Home: At Christmas, many of us have obligations to elderly parents, troubled kids, a two-income family with one spouse out of work. Being home — really being at home — is important. Employers, facilitate this.

Merry Christmas and best wishes to all. I wish 2014 to be one of peace, good health and continued progress in our work.

Maureen Shaw

Maureen Shaw is the former president and CEO of the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (now amalgamated into the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services). She spent over 14 years as leader of the IAPA, transforming it from a traditional safety training organization to one that approaches workplaces as psychologically safe and healthy places for people and business to be prosperous. Maureen holds key positions in several national organizations, including the Mental Health Commission of Canada where she is a member of the advisory committee on workforce mental health.
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