A Public Service That Embodies A Healthy Workplace


#GC2020 Story : CSE Healthy Workplace Strategy

Issue or Driver:

Improving mental health and workplace wellness is a key priority for the Public Service. As one of Canada’s key Security and Intelligence organizations, we play an integral role in helping to protect Canada and Canadians against foreignbased terrorism, foreign espionage, cyber attacks, kidnappings of Canadians abroad, attacks on our embassies and other serious threats with a significant foreign element, helping to ensure our nation’s prosperity, security and stability. The serious nature of this work can sometimes be demanding and weigh heavily on staff since much of our work is classified and can’t be discussed freely, staff can’t always rely on traditional support networks, like family and friends. As such, CSE recognized an increased need to ensure internal resources are available to address the mental health and wellness of its staff.


CSE has made many steps in that direction such as the creation of the Healthy Workplace Tile with a dedicated executiveChampion and working group, the development of a Healthy Workplace Strategy, a healthy workplace survey and numerous activities delivered by our in-house Counselling and Advisory Program (CAP) and other stakeholders of wellness that supported employees and managers to create a mentally healthier work environment.

The Healthy Workplace Working Group is composed of members from stakeholder teams across CSE including: Values and Ethics, Labour Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Security, the Union, CAP and Communications. The working group model represents an integrated approach and a changing force which support the promotion of mental health at work as well as the prevention and resolution of mental health issues at work.

The Healthy Workplace Working Group began the implementation of the Canadian Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace which defines 13 psychosocial factors that contribute to a healthy organization. CAP staff designed and developed a training to help increase awareness about the 13 psychosocial factors and prepare management and employees for action. The training launched in September 2017 and is ongoing.


With a commitment toward creating a healthier workplace in place and the goal of improving mental health and wellness at work through prevention, promotion and resolution, the following services were available to CSE staff in 2017:

  • Counselling to employees and consultation to management through the in-house CAP:
    • 21% of the organization sought one-on-one support, which represents 1,085 sessions
    • People sought support for:
      • Work related issues - 149
      • Leadership consultation – 127
      • Personal health – 120
      • Family life – 116
      • Professional development - 69
  • 94 training sessions to employees and management
    • E.g. Mental Health at Work, Vicarious Witnessing, Mindfulness at Work, Making Sense of Anxiety, Crucial Conversations, Coaching Conversations, Meditation and Heart Math
  • 45 tailor-made sessions to support teams on subjects such as team building, team dynamics and team resilience.
  • CAP attendance at 128 internal partnership meetings and 24 external partnership meetings
  • CSE’s first Wellness Fair to promote internal and external wellness resources

Some of the key outcomes of this work include an increased awareness around mental health issues, enhanced conflict coaching skills, and improvement of team dynamics and performance.


Taking action to improve mental health and wellness in the workplace

Healthy Workplace Tile

  • CSE Healthy Workplace
    Factors Survey

  • Mental Health
    Speaker Series

  • Healthy Workplace
    Working Group

  • Canadian Mental Health
    Association Training

  • Business Line Results
    Analyzed and Presented

  • Promoting the
    13 Psychological
    Health Factors

  • Wellness Fair

  • Healthy Workplace Strategy

Counselling And Advisory Program (CAP)

To promote and foster resilience and healthy relationships among employees and teams through an array of professional services:

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness Program
  • Coaching Conversations
  • Counselling
  • Crisis Response
  • Informal Conflict Management System

Wellness Committee Association

  • Access to on-site 24/7 fitness facility
  • 15+ Fitness classes
  • Multiple sports leagues

Building a workplace that is respectful

Vital Signs Tile

Tracking the pulse of CSE! Vital signs helps us better observe our organizational health and identify those new (or improved) behaviours that will have the biggest positive impact on our work life. This year, the Vital Signs priorities are:

  • Soliciting frank and honest feedback
  • Encouraging dialogue and issue engagement
  • Ensuring feedback received is connected with the rightful activity leaders across the organization
  • Helping to communicate senior level decisions and outcomes

Linguistic Duality Tile

Influence and provide leadership for official languages at CSE.

  • Language Software Licences

  • Language Apprentice Program

  • French Games Bistro!

  • Second Language Learning Program (SLLP)
  • #alt2lang
    Social Media Campaign

  • Linguistic Duality Week

#GC2020 Story : Vital Signs Tile

Issue or Driver:

How can we know if we are doing better or worse, if we don’t know where we are right now? With so many initiatives and activities ongoing at CSE it was becoming apparent that we needed a new way to measure and track our progress towards our MOSAiC/Blueprint 2020 goals. What signals were our employees sending that we might be missing through all of the daily noise? We decided to focus on the organization’s “Vital Signs”.


Looking at ways to measure progress and feedback from employees, a Vital Signs Champion was named and a group of passionate employees was assembled to tackle the challenge. A strategy was created that included a new annual, specific to CSE employee survey. The survey addressed a number of key themes, such as organizational performance and harassment. For example, at CSE:

  • 85% of employees understand our strategic goals;
  • 88% of employees believe that CSE works hard to create a workplace that prevents harassment; and
  • There was a 2% drop in those who reported being victims of harassment dropped (down to 12%).
Vital Signs Backpacker

While these results were generally positive, the survey revealed that there’s work to be done to ensure that essential information flows effectively from executives to staff and points to where we could further reduce harassment. This data is invaluable in helping us to focus on the most pressing of issues,but what about the day-to-day feedback that was also vitally important? For that we created the “Backpackers”, a group of roving employees that attend “ask-meanything” sessions, townhalls, presentations, learning and other special events. They gather immediate feedback from their colleagues that can be used to help us on our journey of continuous improvement.


The Vital Signs Champion and group has become a beacon for employee feedback, both positive and constructive. It offers real data on employee sentiment by soliciting frank and honest commentary. It has also encouraged employees to focus on results and real change by ensuring feedback received is connected with the appropriate activity leaders across the organization. For instance, 62% of CSE employees completed the first annual Vital Signs survey. Going forward CSE will continue to solicit regular feedback through the new, Public Service Employee Annual Survey and other dynamic mechanisms. Backpackers have also attended 29 events and the feedback they collect is now an integral part of change management strategies. We are listening and acting on what we hear!


Increasing participation in knowledge-sharing and learning, such as mentorship and knowledge transfer to the next generation of leaders

CSE Connects

CSE Connects

CSE Connects gives employees the opportunity to meet and build relationships with others around the organization. Over 200 people have connected to date!

Supervisor Leadership Network

Supervisor Leadership Network

An enthusiastic advisory board was stood up to advocate for and support supervisors and aspiring leaders across the organization by providing opportunities for knowledge transfer, networking, and meaningful learning experiences.

YPN Career Tradeshow

Young Professionals Network

Young Professionals Network (YPN) Career Tradeshow - colleagues from all across the organization come together to share their career stories with a side of advice!

Fireside Chats

The YPN in collaboration with the Aspiring Leadership Network and History Program has instituted a series of Fireside Chats with employees when they are retiring or leaving the organization for other opportunities.