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HR leaders are lacking resources to address mental health, well-being challenges: Report

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March 14, 2023
By Talent Canada

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Nearly half of employee benefit programs in Canada don’t offer access to a mental health professional, according to a new survey of HR leaders.

This lack of resources is leading to critical human resource challenges in attracting and retaining talent, along with workplace engagement and productivity, according to the The State of Workplace Health and Wellness in Canada. It was conducted by Environics on behalf of Dialogue, a virtual health-care and wellness platform.

Staffing is top issue for HR

According to the report, staffing is the top issue facing HR leaders in 2023, with 70 per cent identifying difficulties attracting talent, retaining staff and managing staff shortages as key challenges. As a result, concerns about burnout are top-of-mind, as 61 per cent of respondents cited employee mental health as an important challenge to manage this year.

Access to mental health support can have a positive impact on the well-being of employees, the study authors say, but HR leaders in Canada say that workplaces don’t have the right resources in place to address increasing demands — almost half (48 per cent) shared that their employee benefits programs do not provide access to a mental health professional.


Beyond specific benefits, the issue extends to education and training, as 45 per cent of HR leaders find it difficult to ensure employees are making the most of their benefit plans and 70 per cent have not trained managers or feel managers have insufficient training to help them recognize and support employees’ mental health needs.

“It’s important to recognize where organizational blind spots may be and make improvements that promote a positive and healthy working culture to attract and retain top talent,” said Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, chief operating officer at Dialogue. “This report confirms that mental health and well-being will continue to be an important focus for employees. Organizations would therefore gain by providing HR leaders with the resources to adapt strategies to employee needs and by investing in benefits and programs that support a healthy workplace.”

Higher job satisfaction

Initiatives, programs, and benefits aimed at promoting employee well-being can enhance an organization’s ability to effectively deal with these critical HR challenges. Nearly one-half (44 per cent) of employees report better job satisfaction if well-being initiatives are taken by employers, the study authors said.

Ultimately, investing in wellness helps keep employees feeling mentally and physically fit, productive, engaged, and happy, all of which directly impact talent attraction and retention

However, HR leaders are facing barriers that make it challenging to implement new initiatives and adapt benefits to help tackle health and wellness concerns at the root of staffing issues.

Half (50 per cent) of respondents shared that it was difficult to secure financial resources for HR initiatives, while 36 per cent said it was challenging to gain C-Suite support for human resource priorities.

Despite the need for more HR support, 46 per cent of leaders said they were prevented from improving benefits due to financial constraints.

“HR leaders are challenged with talent retention and attraction; and recognize that employee mental health and well-being are related challenges. They want to improve their employees’ well-being, but need support from leadership across the organization,” said Ahsan Sadiq, vice-president, Health & Wellness at Environics. “Employers that prioritize the well-being through comprehensive benefits and services will benefit from a more productive and engaged workforce, which creates an attractive work environment for new talent.”

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