Lack of return to work plans affects mental health of Canadians, report says – .

Lack of return to work plans affects mental health of Canadians, report says – .

TORONTO – A new report has revealed that many Canadians are still unsure of what to expect from their work environment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is contributing to their deteriorating mental health.

According to the LifeWorks Monthly Mental Health Index released Wednesday, 25 percent of Canadians polled said they were “unclear” about their employer’s plan to return to work, while 12 percent did not believe that their employer has a plan.

The report found that these respondents also reported the lowest mental health scores compared to employees who said their employer had already communicated a “clear” return to work strategy.

While many organizations have started to develop plans to reopen offices, the report suggests that a “significant portion” of Canadians need more communication from employers to allay return-to-work concerns.

When asking employees about their return-to-work expectations, LifeWorks found that more than a third (38 percent) of those surveyed expect their employer to want all employees to work in their pre-pandemic environment. , while 17 percent said they believe their employer will allow remote work to continue.

The report also found that 14 percent of Canadians polled expect to work at their desks at least part-time, and one in six employees said they have the flexibility to choose where to work.

Stephen Liptrap, president and CEO of LifeWorks, said in a press release that not knowing how your workplace will change after the pandemic makes employees feel anxious.

“As flexibility and hybrid work environments become part of everyday life, another workplace transition is likely to cause increased mental strain among Canadian workers,” said Liptrap. “As we look at the other side of the pandemic, organizations should consider focusing on wellness as a core part of their culture. “

To do this, Liptrap said employers must continue to prioritize employee mental health with “empathy, clear communication and high quality mental health resources.”

LifeWorks has published its Mental Health Index monthly since April 2020 and compares the results to benchmarks collected in 2017, 2018 and 2019.


In addition to uncertainty in the workplace, the new report found that immunization status “has a significant impact” on the mental well-being and feelings of isolation of Canadians.

In April 2021, LifeWorks reported that 55% of Canadians polled said that increasing COVID-19 vaccinations, or achieving herd immunity, would improve their optimism for the future the most.

The June report found that those who were at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 had the “most favorable” mental health score, connecting to -9.3.

LifeWorks said the worst score (-15.7) was seen among those who were not yet vaccinated, but intend to be. Additionally, respondents who said they were not vaccinated and did not intend to receive a vaccine had the worst isolation score of -18.9.

Paula Allen, global leader and senior vice president of research and total wellness at LifeWorks, said this “prolonged uncertainty” about immunization schedules has created unease and waning optimism among Canadians since start of the pandemic.

However, she noted in the statement that those feelings now appear to be changing.

“As restrictions continue to ease with increasing vaccination rates, we are seeing an improvement in mental outlook in both fully and partially vaccinated individuals,” Allen said. “While this is encouraging, the improvement is fragile and we are still well below where we were before the pandemic. “

Allen said the next few months will be “pivotal” for the well-being of Canadians.

“We need to regain a sense of control and deal with the increased mental strain that has become a norm,” she said.


The report noted that children’s mental health has also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LifeWorks said this is because children have to adjust to changes in school such as online learning and limited social interactions, including isolation from friends and extended family.

The report found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of parents of children aged six to 12 said their children’s mental health was the same as before the pandemic.

However, 15 percent of parents surveyed reported a decline in the mental health of their school-aged children. The report noted that these parents had the least favorable mental health score of -21.9.

In comparison, 21% found that their children’s mental health had improved during the pandemic.

LifeWorks said parents of children between the ages of 13 and 18 reported similar results.

As for post-secondary students, the report noted that their mental health was lower than that of other groups for 13 consecutive months.

LifeWorks asked post-secondary students what has been the most difficult for them in terms of mental health over the past year. The company found that more than 34% of those polled said seclusion was the most difficult.

A quarter said the change in income was the hardest for them, while eighteen percent of students found the challenge of online classes impacting their mental health.


LifeWorks’ overall mental health index for June 2021 was down for the 15th consecutive month, with the index score hitting -10.7 against the pre-pandemic benchmark of 75.

The report says the drop is due to worsening psychological health, depression and productivity at work, showing that the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the mental well-being of Canadians.

The index also monitors sub-scores against pre-pandemic benchmarks, including financial risk, psychological health, isolation, work productivity, anxiety, depression and optimism.

Almost all scores have increased from May 2021, with the optimism score seeing the most significant improvement of 1.8 points.

Despite a 0.8 point decrease from the previous month, the report says the Financial Risk Score continues to be the highest of all sub-scores and remains above the pre-2020 benchmark.

LifeWorks’ latest monthly index is based on a survey in English and French with 3,000 responses collected online between May 28 and June 4, 2021. All respondents reside in Canada and have worked within the past six months, according to the index.

The human resources company, formerly known as Morneau Shepell, says the data was “statistically weighted” to ensure that the regional and gender makeup of the sample reflects the population of Canada.

LifeWorks added that online surveys cannot be given a margin of error because they do not sample the population at random.


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