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Although mental well-being among Canadian employees has increased by seven per cent since the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, 21 per cent are still reporting a negative state of psychological health, according to a new survey by Capterra.

The survey, which polled 1,100 Canadians, found both full- and part-time employees reported a 22 per cent drop in positive mental health since the beginning of the pandemic. Employee mental health declined the most during the first year of the crisis, when positive mental health dropped by 29 per cent, but there are still many causes of stress for employees related to the coronavirus.

“Our data shows that client-facing employees are more likely to be stressed due to COVID-19-related fears,” said Tessa Anaya, a content analyst at Capterra, in a press release. “Not only do these workers fear potentially catching the virus, but they’re also more likely than non-client-related workers to feel unsafe with workplace pandemic protocols.”

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Twenty-four per cent of respondents said their work-related stress has escalated. A significant portion of employees cited burnout symptoms, such as sleep problems, constant worrying and lack of concentration. However, 34 per cent reported no signs of burnout whatsoever.

In terms of the work aspects causing these burnout symptoms, 37 per cent of survey respondents said they feel stressed by the increasing workload and demands of their jobs, while 24 per cent said the fear of contracting the coronavirus at work is a main source of stress.

The survey also found 31 per cent of onsite employees who deal with clients face-to-face are afraid to be infected with the coronavirus, while 16 per cent of onsite workers who never come in contact with customers are afraid of catching the virus. Interestingly, 18 per cent of those who work from home also worry about being infected.

“It isn’t only employees in [client-facing] roles who are experiencing high stress levels at work, however,” said Anaya. “There has been an overall increase in negative mental health among employees since the beginning of the pandemic, which has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.”

Read: Editorial: Focus on mental health a Catch-22