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The vast majority (87 per cent) of small- and medium-sized employers agreed employee mental health is very important to the success of their business, according to a new survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada.

The survey, which polled 750 owners of SMEs, found nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) currently place a high priority on supporting employees’ mental health. These measures include flexible work schedules (55 per cent), additional time off (50 per cent) and remote/hybrid working arrangements (33 per cent).

The vast majority (90 per cent) of business owners said they’re open to seeking their own support for a mental-health issue, up from just 16 per cent in 2019. And among leaders open to seeking mental-health support, the main sources of stress were fears of a cash shortfall (62 per cent), a recession (51 per cent) and work-life balance (48 per cent).

Read: Half of SMEs struggling with mental-health challenges: survey

When it comes to mental-health coping strategies, 59 per cent of employers said they find quiet time to relax, followed by doing physical activity (53 per cent) and taking time off or taking vacation (43 per cent).

“The biggest source of stress for the business owners surveyed is finances, which is no surprise given the current economic climate,” said Annie Marsolais, chief marketing officer and mental-health ambassador at the BDC, in a press release. “However, behind these concerns lies a particular consideration for their well-being and that of their staff.

“The solutions that these business owners are prioritizing reflect a transformation in the work environment: flexible schedules, additional time off, remote and hybrid work and team-building activities.” 

Read: SME workers say paid time off, flexible schedules most important benefits: survey