Psychological safety in the workplace

Jessica WongA few weeks ago, my husband took me to Emergency at Burnaby Hospital. From there, I was involuntarily admitted to the Psychiatric ward for 10 days before I was discharged. I was discharged, with a plan to follow up with my psychiatrist once a week, a plan around medications and a weekly blood test.

Why am I sharing this? Because it could help someone going through their own mental health struggles. COVID-19 has brought many mental health issues and personal struggles to light. Our values at Zenbooks are to be candid and to encourage work life balance. And I can say that the leadership team at Zenbooks truly lives up to what they say they value.

I asked my manager what he thought my biggest strength was, and he said it was my fearlessness. Although that is flattering, I truly believe that it’s the psychological safety that everyone feels at work that allows us to be fearless and courageous. That’s something you can’t put a dollar value on, because having your employees be candid with you, can save you so much time and money in the long term. It can also give you so much insight on the day to day issues you may not see as a leader.

I wish more leaders were better listeners. And that’s also why I’m a big believer in having a diverse leadership team. Different people with different life experiences will give you different perspectives, which can be invaluable in helping you avoid costly mistakes.

I also believe that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting women in the workplace, forcing them to make the difficult decision between family and being a high performer at work. I think it’s unrealistic to expect employees to be at 100% capacity given the world’s current circumstances. Between child care, lay offs, aging parents and sick pets, we, as leaders, need to have empathy and awareness around what an employee is able to contribute. Our employees will remember how we treat them during these difficult times and will be loyal to us in the long run.

Having work life balance as someone with mental illness is difficult. Some weeks, it may mean working less than 37.5 hours. I’m grateful I’m a part of a company that promotes work life balance. Not just flexibility, as in giving you 60 hours of work each week but letting you pick when you do that work. That is not how I would define work life harmony.

But ultimately, I’m grateful for the challenges that have been thrown my way. Life challenges help you grow. Look around and see who’s supporting you when you need help. Those are the people you want to keep in your life. Those are your true friends.


Jessica Wong

Jessica Wong

Jessica is the Director of Accounting at Zenbooks and manages the on-going accounting group for the practice. Jessica graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, and is a recognized Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). She brings over ten years of experience working with small business owners, with a focus on creating efficient processes and helping clients understand their financials and improve operations. Jessica enjoys yoga, biking, hiking, and spending time with her husband and their two kids.

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