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Health Management - Health Challenges - Start with a conversation

Human Resources


Health Management

Start with a conversation

At this point, you have observed behavioural changes in your employee that you are concerned about. It’s time to have an informal conversation to help understand what the cause of the changes might be and if it is related to health home or work. Determining that will help you connect your employee with services available through The City that might help.

What you should do

  • Show you care.
  • Reinforce that you are there to talk confidentially.
  • Reassure your employee that they do not have to disclose their problem.
  • Stick to the facts and start the conversation by explaining what you have observed and asking if they can help you understand the reasons for the changes.
  • Ask if the issue is related to work or if it is a personal issue.
  • Ask how you can support them.
  • Remind them that there are services available to them that may provide a solution.

What you should not do

  • Don’t diagnose. Leave that to the health care professionals. You are there to show support and offer guidance.
  • Don’t ask for details or require your employee to disclose their problem. It is up to them what they want to share.
  • Don’t judge. Instead, listen actively.

Possible reactions

During this initial conversation, your employee could react in a variety of ways including:


Your employee could be relieved that someone has reached out. In this situation, they could divulge more information than you want to know. Emphasize that you do not need the details of their health or family matters. If during this conversation your employee complains of bullying or harassment, you need to investigate and take action. Contact your Human Resources Advisor for help.


They could cry or display other strong emotional reactions. Allow the emotions to flow without seeking details.


They may tell you they are fine and that whatever is going on with them is none of your business. In this situation, emphasis that you care and remind them that there are services that your employee can access on their own that could help.

If you are concerned about safety

If you suspect the individual may cause a safety incident either to themselves or others, remove them from the job immediately and contact Corporate Security.

If your employee mentions they feel suicidal, ask them for the phone number of a friend or family member. Make sure you are speaking to the named person and ask them to come to assist. If the individual is unwilling to give a contact number, connect them to the Distress Centre at 403-266-1606 or call 911.

If you’re concerned about substance use

Substance use (including alcohol as well as legal and illegal drugs) is a health challenge that has its own set of signs to indicate that it may be an issue. As a supervisor, you are not there to diagnose dependency. It’s your job to notice if your employee is fit for work. If you think they aren’t fit for work, then refer to the steps in our employee substance use guide for supervisors.

Who can help?

Your HR Advisor can discuss your situation and provide advice. If you don't know who your HR Advisor is call HR Support Services at 403-268-5800.

Next: Initial support services