Many frontline workers not receiving mental-health resources from employers

While employers of frontline workers have beefed up their policies to physically protect workers from the spread of the coronavirus, many aren’t providing additional supports or mental-health resources, according to a new survey by ADP Canada Co.

The survey, which polled more than 750 working Canadians, found that across all industries, 45 per cent of employers are offering extra mental-health supports to their staff. Looking at specific industries, 46 per cent of health-care workers and 27 per cent of workers in retail, food services, hospitality and warehouse or transportation jobs said their employer has made mental-health resources available during the pandemic.

Read: Walmart Canada rolls out free virtual health care to all staff

As well, 22 per cent of survey respondents said they aren’t receiving additional resources during the pandemic. For frontline workers, that percentage was higher, with 26 per cent of health-care workers and 33 per cent of retail, food services and hospitality employees saying their company hasn’t provided extra resources.

While frontline employees are less likely to see mental-health supports, they’re more likely to receive additional financial support from their industry. Nearly half (44 per cent) said their employer is helping them financially, whereas just a quarter (24 per cent) said so when looking at all types of workers.

Nearly nine in 10 (89 per cent) respondents said their employer has updated existing policies or introduced new policies because of the pandemic, with 97 per cent of retail, food-services and hospitality employees, 93 per cent of government and 91 per cent of health-care workers saying so.

Read: Vancity supporting staff with frontline worker rotation, virtual health care

As well, more than half (59 per cent) of employers are providing employees additional resources to work from home.

“Most employers have acted quickly to address the pandemic, by adjusting workplace guidelines, policies and procedures to physically protect their workplace and the majority provide regular communications to their teams,” said Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing at ADP Canada, in a press release. “However, there is a gap when it comes to mental-health support that shouldn’t be overlooked.

“In these unprecedented times, it is important for employers to ensure workers are aware of resources and programs that may be available to them and to consider supplementing mental-health resources to support workers, especially those on the front lines.”

The survey also found 75 per cent of respondents said they feel their employer is providing regular, timely updates on the coronavirus, with more than 80 per cent of workers in government, health care, education and business and professional services saying the same.

Read: Half of Canadians report worsening mental health: survey