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Canadians unsure about return to workplace plans, mental strain increased

New survey suggests many Canadian workers unsure about return to workplace
(stock photo)

Canadian workers are unsure about a return to the workplace post-pandemic as many companies have started or are in the middle of developing what their return to workplace strategies may look like. 

LifeWorks conducted an online survey from May 28 to June 4 where 3,000 people responded to the online survey. 

The research found a significant amount of Canadians have asked for clearer communication on office reopening plans. 25 per cent of respondents have said that they are unclear of their employer's plan for a return to office. 12 per cent said that they believe their employer doesn't have a plan. 

The survey also looked at the mental health of workers in Canada releasing a Mental Health Index report where the score of respondents was a negative mental health score. 

"As flexibility and hybrid work environments become part of everyday life, yet another workplace transition is likely to cause increased mental strain among working Canadians," said Stephen Liptrap, president and CEO. "As we look to the other side of the pandemic, organizations should consider focusing on well-being as a vital part of their culture. This means continuing to prioritize employee mental health with empathy, clear communication, and high-quality mental health resources." 

More than one-third of respondents said they expect their employer will want all employees working in their pre-pandemic environment, 17 per cent believe their employer will allow remote work to continue, 14 per cent expect to work onsite at their office at least part of the time, and six per cent expect to have the flexibility to choose their work location. 

Vaccination status is also impacting Canadians' mental well-being. In a separate survey conducted back in April, 55 per cent of respondents said that vaccination against COVID-19 would most improve their outlook in the future.

Paula Allen is a Global Leader and Senior Vice President of research and total well-being and she said during this most recent survey, it found that those who report being partially vaccinated have the most favourable mental health score. The least favourable scores are seen among those who are not vaccinated but intend to be. 

"Since the onset of the pandemic, prolonged uncertainty has contributed to feelings of anxiety and a decline in optimism among Canadians," she said, "As restrictions continue to ease with climbing vaccination rates, we are seeing an improvement in mental outlook among both fully and partially vaccinated individuals. While this is encouraging, the improvement is fragile, and we are still well below where we were before the pandemic. The next few months will be pivotal. We need to regain a sense of control and deal with the increased mental tension that has become a norm." 

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