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Mental Health In The Workplace

Workplace stress is on the rise and employees are feeling the pressure, according to new research by Morneau Shepell Ltd.

In a survey of employees and employers across Canada, the company found more than a third of employees reported they’re more stressed now from work (35 per cent) and personal issues (36 per cent) than they were five years ago. About a quarter (27 per cent) of employees rated their work-related stress over the last six months as high to extreme, compared to 34 per cent of managers.

“One key insight coming out of [our] initial round of research was that one in three employees have significant stress on an ongoing basis,” said Nigel Branker, president of health and productivity solutions and executive vice-president of Morneau Shepell, speaking at a mental-health event in Toronto on Wednesday.

“So that led to the next leg of [our research] journey, which was starting to develop strategies and inform on what [can be done] to help employees build resilience and to cope and address that daily stress.”

According to the survey, one of the main contributors to stress is an increased feeling of workplace isolation. Both employees (64 per cent) and managers (73 per cent) reported a high level of workplace isolation.

“So when we’re looking at workplace stress, and we look at what else it correlates with, extremely strong correlations were a feeling of a workplace isolation,” said Paula Allen, vice-president of research and integrative solutions at Morneau Shepell. “Also, an extremely strong correlation with the feeling of not feeling valued at work. So that’s why we went deep into these things. And that workplace isolation piece is kind of interesting as well because the workplace is changing, is very dynamic and is more diverse than it was before.”

Despite the increase in workplace stress, the survey found a decline in stigma associated with mental-health issues. Self-stigma also declined over the last five years, from 65 per cent in 2014 to 56 per cent in the latest survey.

Even though two-thirds (67 per cent) of employees reported concern over career options being limited if their workplace knew of their mental-health issue, that number has declined from 77 per cent in 2014.

“And even though it’s not the majority, it’s a sizeable enough portion of your [work] population that we need to pay attention to it to make make sure these people feel valued,” said Allen.

However, taking everything about the workplace into consideration, two-thirds (68 per cent) of employees indicated their workplace has a positive impact on their personal mental health.


If you’d like to discuss this topic in greater detail or have any questions, please reach out to a member of your Arbutus Financial Team.

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