A majority (92 per cent) of Canadian employees feel they’re at risk of experiencing burnout as the coronavirus pandemic drags on, according to a new survey by Mercer.

The survey, which polled 11,000 employers and employees from 16 countries, found 59 per cent of employer respondents are concerned about high employee sickness/absence rates and remote worker fatigue, ranking both in their top five workforce concerns for 2022.

In terms of the steps employers are taking to help employees manage family responsibilities, habits and life goals, three-quarters (73 per cent) said they invested in new health programs last year, while 35 per cent are prioritizing inclusive workforce listening and participation this year, 31 per cent are planning to expand benefits eligibility and 26 per cent are planning to offer digital health checks.

Read: Pandemic putting absence management in spotlight for majority of U.S. employers: survey

Employer respondents also said they’re planning to promote long-term employee well-being through measures such as providing information and support for financial, physical, social and mental well-being (38 per cent), introducing a mental or emotional well-being strategy (36 per cent) and adding benefits to address mental or emotional health (34 per cent).

Employees have a desire for more flexibility — they want more flexibility in their benefits and they want to work with an organization that understands their unique needs, says Nicole Landsiedel, a senior associate at Mercer.

Half (50 per cent) of employers noted they already offer training on how to identify and support those facing mental-health challenges, while more than a third are planning to implement the training in 2022. Roughly half (48 per cent) said they offer tools to help employees build coping skills like mindfulness and resilience, while 41 per cent are planning to do so this year. Just under half (46 per cent) already offer virtual mental-health counselling, while another 40 per cent are planning to offer this service within the year. And 45 per cent noted they already offer insurance coverage for mental-health treatment and a similar number are planning to do so this year.

Read: Employers leveraging benefits, flexibility to prevent pandemic surge in disability claims

Close to two-thirds (62 per cent) of employee respondents said they’d join a company if they can work remotely or in a hybrid arrangement. Indeed, 42 per cent of Canadian employees said they want hybrid or remote work arrangements in 2022, with 37 per cent willing to forego a pay increase in return for more control over their work schedule.

While 74 per cent of global employers said they believe their organization will be more successful with remote working and/or hybrid work arrangements, a similar percentage (72 per cent) had concerns about the impact of remote working on their organizational culture. Nonetheless, almost all (98 per cent) companies surveyed said they’re taking steps to create a healthy hybrid work culture.

To combat the pandemic-fuelled ‘Great Resignation,’ the top five total rewards strategies used by employer respondents were offering more types of rewards and compensation such as gift cards and time off (30 per cent); increasing compensation for those below the benchmark today (28 per cent); adjusting pay to address internal equity (28 per cent); increasing the employer portion of benefits costs to increase take-home pay (26 per cent); and increasing retention bonuses (26 per cent).

There’s been a fundamental change in what people value and that’s underpinning the structural shift in the labour market, says Landsiedel. “Employers are making sure flexibility is in place so that total rewards meet the needs of people. Many organizations are questioning whether they’re investing sufficiently to ensure their employees are healthy in all aspects of their well-being — social, emotional, physical and financial.”

Read: How can employers turn the ‘Great Resignation’ tide?