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55 lost work days a year: The toll of workplace conflict on Canadians

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November 29, 2023
By Talent Canada


Photo: comzeal/Adobe Stock

People who experience conflict in the workplace lose an average of 55 work days per year, according to the TELUS Mental Health Index.

It also found that, among workers in Canada, 26% say better support for their well-being is more important than an increase in salary.

“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,” said Juggy Sihota, chief growth officer, TELUS Health. “The well-being 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.”

The research revealed that 28% of Canadian workers are grappling with low mental health scores, defined as 50 or lower. This group experienced a significant impact on their productivity, losing at least double the number of days compared to the 13% of workers with higher mental health scores of 90 or above.

The situation is particularly stark among those who have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. These workers report a significant loss of productivity, averaging 55 and 53 working days per year, respectively.

Against this backdrop, Canadian workers are increasingly seeking support for their wellbeing through health benefits plans. When questioned about what they value most in these plans, the majority of workers prioritize dental benefits (51%), followed by prescription medication coverage (47%), and vision care (32%).

Notably, there’s a generational divide in the value placed on psychological services. Workers under the age of 40 are more than twice as likely to prioritize these services compared to their counterparts over 50.

Perhaps most tellingly, the study found that the highest mental health scores, averaging 70.4, belong to the 39% of workers who enjoy a balanced personal and work life. This score is nearly seven points higher than the national average, underscoring the profound impact of work-life balance on mental health.

“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,” said Paula Allen, global leader, research and 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.”

For the third consecutive month, the mental health score of workers in Canada has decreased, with the October 2023 score standing at 63.7, compared to the September score of 64.4.


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