Mental health-related issues lead to significant lost working days

Canadians' mental health scores still far worse compared with pre-pandemic levels, finds report

Mental health-related issues lead to significant lost working days

Employers are losing productive working days because of different issues related to mental health and work-related stress that workers face each day, according to a recent TELUS Health report.

Specifically, workers diagnosed with depression lose 56 working days per year, while those with anxiety lose 55 working days per year.

Workers who cite work-related stress also lose valuable time at work:

  • Workers reporting workplace conflict lose 55 working days in productivity per year.
  • Workers reporting the primary source of work stress is the relationship with their manager lose 49 working days in productivity per year.
  • Workers reporting fear of termination or layoff as their primary source of work stress lose 48 working days in productivity per year
  • Workers reporting the primary source of work stress is relationships with colleagues lose 47 working days in productivity per year.
  • Workers who cite the volume of work as source of work stress loss 39 working days in productivity per year.

“The negative impacts of stress, whether stemming from external factors or internal dynamics within the workplace, have a ripple effect throughout an organization, impacting every level,” says Juggy Sihota, chief growth officer, TELUS Health.

“The wellbeing of workers and the success of the business are inherently connected. By prioritizing investments in tools, processes and comprehensive benefits plans that foster a psychologically safe and supportive work environment, employers can cultivate a highly engaged and productive workforce that drives business outcomes."

A previous report found that 82 per cent of employees view their well-being as important, but just 41 per cent believe their employer genuinely supports them in this endeavour.

Many Canadians at high mental health risk

Overall, Canadian’s mental health scores remain far too low compared with pre-pandemic levels, finds TELUS Health’s survey of 3,000 Canadian respondents, conducted between Oct. 4 and 10, 2023.

Canadians’ mental health score is 63.7, compared to the September score of 64.4.

Overall, 34 per cent are at high mental health risk, 42 per cent are at medium mental health risk and 24 per cent are at low mental health risk.

These numbers were little changed from April 2020 data: 34 per cent were at high mental health risk, 45 per cent were at medium mental health risk and 21 per cent were at low mental health risk.

Between 2017 and 2019, there were only 14 per cent of Canadians at high mental health risk, with 51 per cent at medium mental health risk and 35 per cent at low mental health risk.

Now, 26 per cent of workers say that they prefer better support for their wellbeing from their employer compared with a 10 per cent salary increase. This number is up from 24 per cent in August 2022.

"As mental health scores continue to be at a sub-optimal level, workers are increasingly aware that financial and mental wellbeing are deeply interconnected, and that overall wellbeing involves far more than just a salary," says Paula Allen, global leader for research & client insights, TELUS Health.

“In today’s uncertain economic environment, it is very telling that workers are placing equal, if not greater, importance on wellbeing support compared to their salary. This highlights a significant opportunity for employers to meet employees’ needs by providing resources and real-time support that go beyond financial considerations in order to maintain morale and ultimately retain top talent.”

Martin Fox, managing director at Robert Walters’ Canadian branch, says employers have been spending an estimated $400 to $600 per employee on wellness initiatives since the pandemic started in March 2020, according to a previous CTV News report. And the majority (62 per cent) of employees don’t think their employers are doing enough to help manage workplace stress. In comparison, only 14 per cent think the company’s efforts are enough.

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