Office relationships become latest pandemic casualty

People just aren't connecting with their online peers

Office relationships become latest pandemic casualty

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken millions of lives, shut down hundreds of thousands of businesses – and as it continues to prevail, its latest casualty is workplace relationships. In the latest Mental Health Index by LifeWorks, workplace relationships have "deteriorated" since the pandemic began, stoking conflicts between managers and employees. According to the study, 11% of Canadians reported that their experiences with their managers have not been positive, an increase of two percent since before the pandemic. This in turn influenced their mental health and work productivity, which resulted to 15 points below the national average.

Relationships with colleagues were also hit, with 10% of Canadians admitting that their experiences with work peers have not been positive since the pandemic began, a four percent increase since the start of the global health crisis. The said workers posted an overall mental health score that is 16 points below the national average.

"Our research shows that the impact of the pandemic has not only negatively impacted mental health but also workplace relationships," said Stephen Liptrap, LifeWorks president.

Liptrap added that the findings are concerning as mental health and workplace relationships are keys to productivity.

"The coming months will be a critical period of time for employee wellbeing, and as organisations look to finish the year strong, bottom lines are at stake if this is not prioritised," he added.

Read more: In times of crisis, workplace relations can grow stronger

Overall, 23% of employed Canadians have reported poorer mental than before the pandemic - with scores 17 points below the national average. About 20% of them said they are concerned with their ability to cope, with younger employees, parents, and managers admitting to feeling in crisis about it. More Canadians are also blaming work for "hindering" their mental wellbeing, with nearly a quarter indicating this, higher than the one-in-five employees before the pandemic began.

Paula Allen, vice president, research, and total wellbeing, said in a statement that the finding on work hindering wellbeing is "concerning and needs to be addressed."

"Digital tools and manager training are two practical ways to integrate wellbeing into today's work," Allen suggested.

"As businesses reshape how they operate, the most successful organisations will invest in employee wellbeing and workplace relationships."

Overall mental health score remains negative

The latest index from LifeWorks further revealed that the overall mental health score is at -10.2, staying at a consistent negative for 19 consecutive months. Still, the score is slightly better than the previous month, which was a -10.3. The result reflects the current mental health status of employed adults in Canada. A total of 3,000 Canada-based workers, including those employed within the past six months, have participated in the online survey.

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