The No. 1 mental health issue Canadian employees take time off work for

The No. 1 mental health issue Canadian employees take time off work for

By Carmen Chai

If you’re unhappy with changes to your job, getting to work may feel like an insurmountable task. A new Canadian survey warns that 46 per cent of employees have taken time off work or noticed their colleagues take time away to tend to their mental health following workplace changes, specifically a change in job roles.

When changes sweep the workplace, negative implications for employees often follow, according to a new survey by Morneau Shepell, a human resources consulting company.

Depression and anxiety were the most prevalent mental health conditions that affected employees in the workplace.

“We have found that among the types of organizational changes, job re-design has the strongest correlation to sick leave for both physical and mental health,” said Alan Torrie, president and CEO at Morneau Shepell.

“This type of change sometimes gets less focus than things like mergers but it is clearly important to the day-to-day experience of employees,” he explained.

Sixty-six per cent of Canadians polled experienced at least one organizational change with their current employer, from team restructuring (39 per cent), layoffs and downsizing (35 per cent), job re-design (35 per cent), or re-design of the physical office space (29 per cent).

Employees who went through workplace change felt the repercussions across the board. Forty-three per cent said it had a negative impact on the company, 40 per cent said it affected their own health and well-being and 30 per cent said it hurt their job performance.

Sick leave for mental health concerns was more than two times more likely in employees age 30 and under compared to their older counterparts in the workforce.

So how can employers help when change is abound?

Resources are key, the survey said. Employee and family assistance programs were useful to employees grappling with mental health stress while colleagues also acted as additional support.

Seventy-five per cent of respondents said work culture was the most important issue to address when it came to mental health in the workplace. Work culture trumped employees’ coping skills and resiliency and even the value of overcoming stigma when survey participants were asked what was most important to them when it came to mental health awareness at work.

A supportive, positive work environment helped with job performance and boosted employees’ health and well-being even after change occurred, the survey said.

The survey was conducted by Morneau Shepell in October 2016 with 1,018 respondents in total.

Read more about the findings.

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) all offer ways for getting help if you, or someone you know, is suffering from mental health issues.

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