Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of Canadian employees feel their mental health has interfered with their ability to work in the past year, according to a new survey commissioned by Manulife Financial Corp. and conducted by Edelman DXI.

The survey, which polled more than 1,500 Canadians, found four-fifths of employees said they’re worried about their finances while working and nearly a third said they worry often. Half of those who worry said they’d be more productive at work if they were less worried.

It also found financial stress can cost employers $1,786 per employee in lost productivity and absenteeism. This adds up to $178,600 for employers with 100 or fewer employees, up to $891,214 for businesses with less than 500 employees and more than $893,000 for employers with 500 employees or more staff.

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The majority (79 per cent) of respondents said financial wellness programs reduce their financial stress, make them more likely to stay with their employer (75 per cent) and make them more productive (66 per cent). However, only half said their employer offers a financial wellness program and 25 per cent were unsure if they had one.

Employees with a financial advisor reported having an easier time saving money (36 per cent versus 28 per cent without an advisor), more likely to be on track to retire (47 per cent versus 34 per cent) and more likely to feel good about their mental health (54 per cent versus 42 per cent).

The survey also found 79 per cent of Canadians felt the challenging economic backdrop has had an impact on their mental well-being, while 24 per cent said it’s had a major impact. And half (53 per cent) reported worrying a great deal about one or more aspects of their personal finances. The top concerns cited were credit card debt (40 per cent), not having enough emergency savings (30 per cent) and not having enough retirement savings (29 per cent).

“While our findings show Canadian workers’ financial and mental health is low, the good news is that we can see what helps,” said Brett Marchand, head of group retirement in Canada at Manulife, in a press release. “Greater engagement — through financial wellness programs and professional financial advice — can help employees manage financial stress and improve mental health, while helping their employers with talent acquisition and retention, productivity and the bottom line.”

Read: 2022 Healthy Outcomes Conference: Employers target timely, topical education in financial well-being strategies