Almost half (48 per cent) of Canadian employees are experiencing at least one work-related mental-health risk factor, according to a new report by Manulife Corp.

The report also highlighted that 16 per cent of working hours (or 41.2 days) were lost in 2021 due to absences and presenteeism. In addition, mental fatigue was the No. 1 reason employees aren’t making healthy choices, while lack of work-life balance was the No. 1 mental-health risk factor and work-related stress was the No. 1 factor affecting employees’ sleep.

Read: Majority of Canadians suffering from a mental-health issue, sleeping disorder: survey

“Employee mental-health patterns could be K-shaped as we move through the next phase of the pandemic,” said Georgia Pomaki, director of mental-health best practices at Manulife, in a press release. “One arm of the K represents employees who are excited about reopening and returning to the office, [while] the other represents a group of employees who are facing mental-health challenges and significant fatigue. For this group, a return to office may feel overwhelming. Organizations need to consider both groups to design effective and supportive return-to-office programs.”

Mental-health supports like virtual psychotherapy, employee assistance programs and mindfulness sessions translate into employee employee health and well-being improvements, she added. “Organizations can help employees by removing barriers to accessing these benefits, increasing communications about available products and services and helping reduce the stigma around their use. Given what we have been living through the past two years, if there’s ever a time to accelerate these efforts, the time is now.”

Read: Mental health declining for 23% of onsite workers during pandemic: survey