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Fewer Canadians report a sense of belonging at work when compared to pre-pandemic

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Corporate / Canada

Fewer Canadians report a sense of belonging at work when compared to pre-pandemic

LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ indicates that more than half of Canadians do their job when feeling unwell at least one day per week

LifeWorks, a leading provider of digital total wellbeing solutions, today released its monthly Mental Health Index™, revealing a negative mental-health score among Canadians for the 17th consecutive month.

Key findings:

  • Overall mental-health score of -9.7 compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark, reaching its highest point since the launch of the index in April 2020.
  • In the latest survey, 73 per cent of respondents indicated that prior to the pandemic, they felt a sense of belonging and acceptance at work, but only 65 per cent felt the same during the past month.
  • Meanwhile, 26 per cent of respondents indicated that before the pandemic, they were unsure or did not feel a sense of belonging, compared to 35 per cent feeling the same during the past month.
  • This trend is seen across all age groups, however, the proportion of employees who report feeling a sense of belonging and acceptance at work increases with older age groups.

Pandemic-driven work-from-home model contributes to worsening isolation among Canadian employees:

  • The majority of employees (68 per cent) who are working at a jobsite feel a greater sense of belonging and acceptance at work than those who work from home or in a hybrid workplace.
  • Isolation scores among those working exclusively from home are worse (-9.6) than those working in a hybrid model (-7.6) or from the jobsite (-7.3).
  • The 65 per cent of respondents who felt a sense of belonging and acceptance at work during the past month, had the highest mental-health score (-3.1) and the best isolation score (-3.4) compare to those who were unsure or did not feel the same way.

Comments from president and chief executive officer, Stephen Liptrap

“While remote or hybrid work offers flexibility and saves commuting time, there is a risk that people may feel less connection to their organizations and colleagues over time. When transitioning to a virtual setting during the pandemic, many employees lost the spontaneity of conversations that they may have found invigorating. To ensure a successful return to the workplace, employers should consider innovative ways to lessen feelings of isolation and create a culture free from bias, regardless of work location. Connections and the social support they offer are important to wellbeing and we need to ensure that this is not lost.”

Canadian employees report working while unwell on weekly basis, contributing to productivity loss:

  • The majority of respondents (54 per cent) report doing their job when feeling unwell (physically or psychologically) at least one day per week. The mental-health scores among this group are significantly below those who report never working while feeling unwell.
  • Forty-six per cent of respondents indicate that they never work while feeling unwell. This group has the most favourable mental health score, at nearly four points above the pre-2020 benchmark (+3.7).
  • Sixty-four per cent of parents report working when feeling unwell at least one day per week, compared to 53 per cent of non-parents.
  • Additionally, respondents who have a mental-health score of -40 or lower, are estimated to have a productivity loss of 27 per cent, compared to those with a mental-health score of +10 or more with a productivity loss of 10 per cent.

Comments from global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing, Paula Allen

“We know that when people are feeling unwell, their productivity at work suffers. We also have clear data that indicates an organization’s culture of wellbeing and investments in workplace mental health make a difference in the overall health of the workforce. As we move forward in the next phase of the pandemic, there will be more change and added strain as a result. This is not the time to ease our focus on employee mental health and wellbeing. The need continues and the productivity risk is significant.”

The full Canadian LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ report can be found here. This month, the report includes additional insights on the impact of remote work on mental strain, reasons for missed time from work due to illness, employees’ ideal work situations and more.

About the Mental Health Index

The monthly survey by LifeWorks was conducted through an online survey in English and French from July 30 to August 5, 2021, with 3,000 respondents in Canada. All respondents reside in Canada and were employed within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflect this population. The Mental Health Index™ is published monthly, beginning April 2020, and compares against benchmark data collected in 2017, 2018, 2019.

About LifeWorks

LifeWorks is a world leader in providing digital and in-person solutions that support the total wellbeing of individuals. We deliver a personalized continuum of care that helps our clients improve the lives of their people and by doing so, improve their business.


Heather MacDonald

Angela Pinzon
Kaiser & Partners

Source: LifeWorks