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Dr. Bill Howatt

Founder and President of Howatt HR

Dr. Bill Howatt, founder and CEO of Howatt HR, refers to himself as a behavioural scientist with a keen curiosity for how employees and employers can work together to reduce mental harm and promote mental health in the workplace. He is known internationally and is one of Canada’s top experts in workplace psychological health and safety. Dr. Bill is on the CSA OHS Standards Steering Committee and Chair of the CSA Standard Z1008: Management of Substance-Related Impairment in the Workplace. He is the co-creator of the Psychologically Safe Workplace Awards.

 

Dr. Bill regularly contributes to workplace mental health research such as Canada Pandemic Pulse Check: COVID-19’s Impact on Canadians’ Mental Health with the Mental Health Commission of Canada; Moving to Action: Implementing the Workplace Safety & Prevention Services’ Mental Harm Prevention Roadmap, and Canada Standards Association Investigating employers’ practices in response to COVID-19 for safeguarding employees’ psychological health and safety in the workplace. He has 30 years of clinical experience in mental health and addictive disorders.

 

Dr. Bill is the former Chief of Research, Workforce Productivity, at The Conference Board of Canada, and the former Chief of Research and Development, Workforce Productivity, at Lifeworks. Dr. Bill has created the Senate-approved Certificate in Psychologically Safe Leadership and Certificate in Management Essentials, Pathway to Coping and Mental Fitness through the University of New Brunswick. He is the co-creator of the Psychological Health and Safety Facilitator Certificate.

 

Dr. Bill is a regular contributor and co-authors a blog with the CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada for WSPS Ontario CEO Health and Safety Leadership Network. Dr. Bill has published over 50 books, such as The Globe and Mail bestseller, The Cure for Loneliness, and Stop Hiding and Start Living. He is a regular contributor to Talent Canada, OHS Magazine, and The Chronicle Herald and has published over 350 articles with The Globe and Mail.

Bill has been contributing to the Globe and Mail for over seven years.

TOPICS

No More Languishing

 

No more languishing or feeling ‘blah’ – discover the road to flourishing!


Workers’ and leaders’ emotional well-being is determined by the amount of time they spend in pleasant emotions (e.g., flourishing) and unpleasant emotions (e.g., languishing). Languishing is not a mental illness. It is a negative mental state that drains emotional well-being. When stress, uncertainty, or fear occupy the mind, this increases the risk of living in a constant state of languishing (i.e., feeling ‘blah’). An estimated 60% of the workforce is stuck in a chronic state of languishing that negatively impacts their employee experience, productivity, and mental health. The longer a person is stuck in languishing, the greater their risk of sick time, disability, and resignation.


Mental health (e.g., behavioral health) is not intuitive; it is a trainable skill. The majority of employees have never been trained or supported to mature intrapersonal self-care knowledge and skills required to flourish. Dr. Bill, a leading expert in workplace mental health, provides participants with practical steps to discover and maintain a flourishing mindset. He leverages his clinical, corporate, and personal experiences to offer learners insights into why people languish in the workplace, barriers to moving forward, and how mental fitness can transform how they feel and think. Like with physical health, there are no magic solutions or shortcuts. But with the knowledge and skills, a personalized mental fitness plan, and repetition, new habits can transform how employees think and feel.

Unlocking the Habit of Mental Fitness: How behavioural health shapes emotional well-being

 

 

One constant in all workplaces is stress, and there is no chance employers will eliminate all unwanted stress. However, employers can mitigate mental harm and promote mental health. One action is not to assume workers and leaders have the knowledge and skill to regulate their emotional well-being. On any given day, five in five employees have mental health (e.g., emotional regulation) that benefits from intentions like physical health (e.g., diet, exercise). Mental health (i.e., behavioural health) is not intuitive and is a trainable skill. Dr. Bill provides employees clarity on what they can do to positively influence their mental health by unlocking mental fitness habits. Mental fitness determines the percent of time employees feel they are flourishing (e.g., thriving) versus languishing (e.g., feeling “blah”).

 

Mental fitness assists employees in maturing their resiliency, which provides additional personal-psychological protection (PPP) that is the last line of defence for employees from workplace mental harm. Every employee owns their mental health. However, employers must acknowledge that it is important for them to engage in behaviours like creating a psychologically safe workplace that contributes to employees’ mental health.

 

This short program will provide employees and employers insight into behaviours that promote emotional well-being.

Self-care: The Number One Protective Factor

 

 

 

The most important thing a leader can do for themselves, their organization, and reports is to regulate their emotions and maintain their emotional well-being. Stigma can be a barrier to asking for help. It also can be a barrier to engaging in self-care. Forbes reported that nearly 60% of leaders feel used up at the end of the workday. Eighty-four percent of workers say poorly trained leaders create unnecessary work and stress. Leaders experiencing unpleasant emotions and stress are more prone to be reactive, short, and irritable. Leaders who are stressed and feel overwhelmed often are not in tune with how their emotional wake can impact others. Mental health (i.e., behavioral health) is a pillar of self-care. It is not intuitive; it is a trainable skill. Self-care is leaders’ ability to mitigate their risk of mental harm and promote mental health. The environment can contribute to or take away from a leader’s overall well-being. The last line of defence for a leader is their personal psychological protection (PPP).

 

Dr. Bill provides leaders with a framework for leadership self-care that includes practical guidance for improving and maintaining their emotional well-being.

 

Leaders who discover how to flourish are more prepared to cope with constant challenges, stress, and change than leaders who are languishing. Leaders who learn how to self-regulate their emotions and cope with stress by adopting self-care daily practices that promote their mental health are more likely to show up ready to meet the day’s demands.

Five Competencies for Becoming a Psychologically Safe Leader

 

Since the pandemic, workplace mental health has been top-of-mind for more boards, CEOs, and senior leaders. This is happening because of the growing understanding that workers’ mental (behavioral) health is related to retention, attraction, disability costs, productivity, sustainability, and quality of life. This understanding has increased the focus on psychological safety and health (PSH). PSH goals are to drive out fear and create inclusive, welcoming cultures where employees feel a sense of belonging, value, and purpose. Employers are discovering leaders’ critical role in protecting workers from mental harm and promoting mental health.

This presentation introduces leaders to five competencies and key performance behaviors (KPBs) for becoming psychologically safe leaders. Dr. Howatt is a leading international expert in workplace mental health with an extensive background in leadership development and executive and team coaching for leaders to create psychologically safe workplaces.

Information is useless without transformation: How to rapidly impact workplace mental health

 

Workplace mental health is becoming a more significant challenge (e.g., YOY increases in STD/LTD & WCB claims due to mental illness). Knowing workers’ mental health is a growing concern is not enough. A common mistake is assuming that initiating programs and policies will be enough. For employers to positively impact workplace mental health, they must understand what psychosocial risk factors and hazards create the most considerable strain on the workers and leaders. Employers must then discover what protective factors they can facilitate using a Plan – Do – Check –Act (PDCA) approach to create the desired transformation (i.e., reducing mental harm and promoting mental health). Transformation and impactful workplace mental health initiatives drive worker engagement and productivity and lower sick time and disability costs that contribute to a secure and sustainable workforce. In 2020, companies with the highest workforce treatment scores in Just Capital’s rankings outperformed the Russell 1000 by 4.7 percent.

 

Dr. Howatt, an international expert in workplace mental health, provides professionals tasked with facilitating workplace mental health a framework for taking information and creating actions that put organizations on the right track to transform workplace mental health. Five in five workers and leaders have mental health. How employers and employees learn to promote and protect workplace mental health determines how well a work culture becomes psychologically safe and healthy. There are no shortcuts nor magic fixes to workplace mental health. Rapid workplace mental health transformation requires a commitment to continuous improvement, collecting the correct data, engaging workers, measurement, reporting, and auditing.

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