More than a third (35 per cent) of employees said they’re considering leaving their job or are unsure about whether to stay with their company, according to the latest monthly mental-health index by LifeWorks Inc.

Additionally, the mental-health scores of these groups (negative 21.9 and negative 16.7, respectively) were more than three-times worse than for those who aren’t thinking about leaving their jobs (negative 5.1). Overall, Canadians’ mental-health score spiralled even further in September to negative 10.3 points from negative 9.7 in August, fuelled in part by stress at work and lack of job satisfaction.

Read: Onsite workers citing higher sense of belonging, acceptance than those at home: survey

Indeed, almost all mental-health sub-scores, apart from isolation and financial risk, declined in September, with the risk measure of depression falling the furthest (negative 12.2, from negative 11.5); followed by anxiety (negative 11.3 from 10.3); optimism (negative 11.3 from negative 9.9); work productivity (negative 10.4 from negative 10.3); and general psychological health (negative 3.3 from negative 2.8). However, Canadians’ sub-score for isolation saw a marked improvement of negative 10.9 from negative 11.1. And the sub-score for financial risk remained high at 5.2, an increase from last month’s score of 4.7.

Survey respondents pointed to unhappiness with working conditions as a primary source of stress leading to their lower mental-health scores. While more than half (58 per cent) of respondents reported that their job stress remained the same in 2021 compared to 2020 and had the most favourable mental-health score (negative 3.9), a third (33 per cent) said the opposite and had the least favourable score (negative 21.4).

“Ongoing workplace changes and uncertainty for the future continue to increase the mental strain that employees are experiencing and Canadians are indicating that actions speak louder than words when it comes to how employers address this,” said Stephen Liptrap, LifeWorks’ president and chief executive office, in a press release.

Read: Workplace well-being, mandatory vaccinations affecting Canadians’ mental health: survey

Respondents who had their salaries reduced were 80 per cent more likely to report increased job stress and 50 per cent more likely to consider leaving their jobs than those who had no change to their salary or hours. Those under age 30 were nearly three times as likely than those 50 and older to report a decrease in job stress in 2021. And respondents aged 40 or under were 70 per cent more likely to think about leaving their job than respondents aged 50 and up.

Nonetheless, the survey found that, as age increases, so does the proportion of respondents reporting feeling underappreciated in their job. Among those aged 40 to 69, 12 per cent said they were thinking of leaving their job due to feeling underappreciated, compared to four per cent of those aged 20 to 39. Managers were nearly 40 per cent more likely to report increased job stress than non-managers.

Read: Uncertainty around return-to-work plans affecting employees’ mental health: report

Of note, 92 per cent of respondents said they didn’t resign from their job during the coronavirus pandemic and this group had the most favourable mental-health score (negative 9.2). The eight per cent that did resign from a job amid the pandemic scored a significantly lower mental-health score (negative 20.7). As well, respondents who are parents were more than twice as likely than those without children to report resigning during the pandemic.

“Building a supportive culture that speaks about and provides resources for mental-health needs is a great first step,” said Liptrap. “Employers must recognize that employees are considering resigning from their jobs if they don’t get support. An investment in employees is an investment in business success.”