More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of Canadians said the support offered by their employer around mental health is critical to how they view their workplace, according to a new survey by Morneau Shepell Ltd.

Speaking at Morneau Shepell’s annual mental-health summit in Toronto on Wednesday, Paula Allen, the organization’s senior vice-president of research, analytics and innovation, said employers must never think they don’t have more to learn from listening to their employees. “We can’t get too cocky that we know everything.”

The survey found 77 per cent of Canadian employees said they’d consider changing jobs, for the same pay, if a prospective employer offered better support for their personal well-being. And 60 per cent of respondents said they’d consider changing employers for the same reason if their pay was decreased.

Read: Treatment access, innovation integral to supporting employee mental health

Looking specifically at employees suffering from financial stress, 51 per cent said the same. “That tells you how meaningful it is. . . . What you do really does have an impact,” said Allen.

As for the sources of stress, the survey found work-related worries (22 per cent) and financial well-being (21 per cent) ranked among the highest. Workplace stress, in particular, is increasing. Close to half (45 per cent) of respondents said the mental demands of their current position has risen over the past 18 to 24 months. During the same time frame, just four per cent said mental demands have gone down.

As for financial stress, 42 per cent of Canadians said they believe they have bigger money problems than others making the same income. This stress has a direct impact on the workplace, with 36 per cent of survey respondents saying their financial worries affect their productivity and 24 per cent saying they impact their attendance.

Read: Social connection can build or erode mental health, resilience

The data sends a clear signal to employers that supporting employee financial well-being is a major aspect of caring for their mental health, said Allen. “When your mental health is good, you feel more equipped to deal with you financial worry.”

The survey found another prominent factor in employee mental health is feeling a sense of belonging among colleagues. A quarter of Canadians said they don’t feel a sense of belonging in the workplace due to the quality of relationships with co-workers. Among those who said they have excellent mental health, only 11 per cent of Canadian employees said they feel isolated at work.

Diversity and inclusion programs, which are often companion initiatives with mental-health efforts, are especially key, as 86 per cent of survey respondents said it was important to their mental health. Notably, where race, ethnicity, religion, gender and age are concerned, Canadians said their employers are addressing those diversity issues well. But they indicated that programs are falling short on sexual orientation and ability/disability. “We really have a ways to go,” said Allen.

Read: Dalhousie, Ryerson focusing on mental health in January

Looking to tools that employers can use to provide support for mental health, 53 per cent of survey respondents said they’d be open to talk therapy, followed by digital mindfulness and meditation program (43 per cent), digital skill building or cognitive behavioural therapy (38 per cent). Meanwhile, more than a third (39 per cent) said they’d be willing to take prescription medication.

Allen noted the dramatic uptick in interest in digital mental-health tools. While talk therapy is still the tool employees said they’re most interested in, many can’t take part for various reasons, including lingering stigma and scheduling conflicts. For some, she said, taking the hour out of the day that traditional talk therapy requires just isn’t possible.

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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Jo-Ann Curtis:

Of all the great information in this article, the one and likely most important point for all employers is: “Employers must never think they don’t have more to learn from listening to their employees.”

Employers need to remain mindful of what employees needs actually are and not just what an employer “thinks” employees needs are to make benefit programs beneficial and effective! Be open to employee feedback, both negative and positive, and when necessary take action.

Wednesday, January 29 at 1:26 pm | Reply

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