Our vision: A human-services workforce that is as stress free as possible.
Our goal: To increase the capacity of human-services workforce in Alberta to identify and mitigate workplace stress, and to provide policy recommendations based on empirical evidence.
Our strategy: To learn about stress and how to mitigate it (year 1), to provide training and resources for the workforce (year 2), and to measure success and sustainability (year 3).
Work in the human services--including child and family services, child and youth counselling, home visitation, foster care, disability services, and residential care--is inherently stressful. Dealing with families in need and with victims of crime and social disruption puts social service workers in demanding situations where uncertainty and fear cause emotional strain. The strain of other hazards of the work--physical, biological, and environmental--are well understood, but stress is not.
The Healthy Workplaces for Helping Professions project aims to help administrators, supervisors, and front-line staff in the human services sector workforce of Alberta to identify, communicate, and mitigate the stress hazards of human-service work. It aims to do so by conducting research into the nature of stress hazards and by providing the government of Alberta, Workers Compensation Board, and accreditation agencies with data needed to allow for informed policy. At the same time, the project aims to increase the capacity of the workforce to respond to stress hazards on the job so that stress claims can be minimized. It will do this with a three-year plan to 1) research stress hazards, 2) mobilize information (training) on how to mitigate stress hazards, and 3) measure the degree of culture change in the workforce. The end result will be a workforce with increased capacity to respond to stress hazards and clear guidelines for government and insurance agencies to address stress hazards.
Funding and Support
The project is funded by a three-year grant from the Government of Alberta, Ministry of Human Services, OHS Futures program. The project is undertaken by a group called the Health and Safety for Child and Family Services (HSCFS) Partnership. This group was formed in 2013 and is comprised of representatives from associations of social-services agencies in Alberta. Its goal is to make the workplace safe for these employees .