Almost one in four (24 per cent) of Canadian employees said the coronavirus pandemic has led them to consider a job or career change, according to Morneau Shepell Ltd.’s latest mental-health index.

Younger employees are much more likely to be mulling their options, as 36 per cent of respondents under the age 40 said they’re considering either a new job or career compared to just 15 per cent of respondents over the age of 50. Additionally, 20 per cent said they’re undecided, which suggests a greater proportion of workers may be at risk of turnover, said a press release.

Read: Half of Canadian employees considering a new job: survey

Indeed, almost the same percentage (18 per cent) of respondents indicated their view of their employer worsened since the start of the pandemic, while 12 per cent said the opposite.

“Beyond the perception of how employers are handling the pandemic, we’re also seeing that some employees are viewing their employer more negatively than before the pandemic,” said Paula Allen, global leader, research and total well-being at Morneau Shepell, in the release.

“This demonstrates that maintaining the status quo is not enough and employers need to take a proactive effort to prioritize communication and put the needs and well-being of employees first in everything they do.”

Employees’ mental well-being continues to be a key issue since the global pandemic began almost nine months ago. Although November’s score of negative 11.1 is a slight improvement from October’s (negative 11.4), compared to the previous month, psychological health declined by 0.7 points to reach its lowest point since the inception of the index in April (negative 0.4).

Read: 81% of Canadians say coronavirus is negatively affecting their mental health: survey

And of note, a significant percentage of employees are considering jumping ship despite many having generally positive opinions of how their employer have handled this crisis so far. A majority (72 per cent) of the respondents said they believe their employers are handling health and safety well, compared to only seven per cent who think otherwise. Similarly, 63 per cent of respondents believe their employer is handling technology well, 56 per cent believe their employer is handling flexible work hours well and 50 per cent believe their employer is handling work-from-home policies well.

“Employers have been faced with many challenges throughout the pandemic, with one of the most significant being their ability to sustain the relationship with employees as virtual communication replaces in-person conversations,” said Allen.

When compared to the previous month, all other sub-scores improved slightly, including financial risk (2.9), psychological health (negative 3.2), isolation (negative 11.1), work productivity (negative 11.1), depression (negative 12.5), anxiety (negative 12.5) and optimism (negative 12.9).

Read: Extended isolation and U.S. election taking toll on Canadians’ mental health: survey

News of Health Canada approving the Pfizer Inc./BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday is a positive step forward. But, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned it will likely take until September 2021 for the majority of Canadians to be vaccinated. Meaning there’s still many months to go before personal and working lives return to normal for employees.

“We’re at a pivotal point in navigating the pandemic. On one hand, the recent news about potentially life-saving vaccines being administered in the first half of next year should bring Canadians some encouragement. On the other hand, we are also approaching some of the most difficult months of the year for many Canadians as we approach the holidays and winter months,” said Stephen Liptrap, Morneau Shepell’s president and chief executive officer, in the press release.

“Information overload will continue to be an issue in the coming months. Employers cannot assume that all employees are feeling positive about the new pandemic-related developments and must continue to check in on their well-being to maintain a productive workforce.”

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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