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Canadians are burnt out and excessive workload is to blame

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June 12, 2024
By Talent Canada

Credit: Getty Images/wildpixel

Canadian workers are burning out at a high rate and excessive workloads are the primarily driver, according to the TELUS Mental Health Index.

The report, which measures the mental health of Canadian workers, found 42 per cent of workers feel mentally and/or physically exhausted at the end of their workday, with too much work cited as the top cause of burnout.

The Index also found that 33 per cent of workers believe artificial intelligence (AI) will have a positive impact on their industry.

“There is no question that AI’s advancement will bring significant benefits, potentially as pivotal as the industrial or Internet age,” said Paula Allen, global leader, research and client insights, TELUS Health. “Organizations have the opportunity to engage employees in this evolution by ensuring that AI tools and training are readily accessible to employees, and enabling them to explore the technology firsthand so they can discover the ways it benefits them in their own work. As with any change, the best way to implement change is to engage people from the start, empowering them to grasp the possibilities and contribute valuable insights.”

The report also found one-third of workers are finding it difficult to be motivated to do their work. Younger workers under 40 are also nearly twice as likely as workers over 50 to find it increasingly difficult to be motivated to do their work.

With the Bank of Canada having declared a ‘productivity emergency’ nationwide in March, motivation levels, burnout and employee mental wellness are critical factors for our businesses, productivity levels, and economy to thrive.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Seventeen per cent of workers are considering upgrading their AI skills.
  • Managers and younger workers are at least twice as likely as non managers and workers over 50 to be considering upgrading their skills related to the use of AI.
  • Parents are nearly twice as likely as non-parents to consider upgrading their AI skills.
  • Almost half of workers believe that AI will have a positive impact on healthcare.

“It’s clear that a significant portion of employees are grappling with motivation and burnout,” said Dr. Matthew Chow, chief mental health officer, TELUS Health. “Personal issues, excessive workloads, and a lack of recognition are among the contributors to burnout. Introducing AI tools thoughtfully and responsibly within organizations can assist employers in streamlining repetitive and low-value tasks to assist with the workload issue. This also can create space for employees to engage in innovative and strategic endeavours that are more meaningful and productive. Additionally, creating a supportive environment is paramount. By prioritizing employee wellbeing, offering adequate support and fostering a healthy culture, organizations empower their teams to avoid burnout and thrive in the workplace.”

While many workplaces offer employee assistance programs (EAP) that could help support employees in situations of burnout, the survey showed two in five workers in Canada do not know what an EAP is. The mental health scores of workers who don’t know or report that their employer doesn’t offer an EAP is at least three points lower than workers with an EAP.

In April 2024, the mental health scores of workers in various regions measured by the Telus Mental Health Index were:

  • New Zealand: 60.6
  • Europe: 62.0
  • Australia: 62.5
  • Singapore: 62.9
  • Canada: 64
  • United Kingdom: 64.6
  • United States: 71.0

The TELUS Mental Health Index is based on a response scoring system that turns individual responses into point values. Higher point values are associated with better mental health and less mental health risk. Scores between 0 to 49 correspond with distress levels, scores between 50 to 79 correspond with strain levels and scores between 80 to 100 correspond with optimal levels of mental health.

The data for the TELUS Health Mental Health Index was collected through an online survey in English and French from April 5, 2024 to April 15, 2024 with 3,000 respondents. 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 reflects this population.

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