Majority of workers would take lower pay for better mental health support: survey

'Yet many employers focus on compensation side of recruitment, retention'

Majority of workers would take lower pay for better mental health support: survey
Talk therapy is a popular way for many workers to address mental stress, according to a survey.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) of Canadian employees would consider leaving their current organization for the same pay if their new workplace offered better support for their personal well-being.

And 60 per cent would do the same even if it means being paid less, found a survey by Morneau Shepell of 8,000 respondents.

This trend was also evident in those experiencing financial stress (52 per cent).

More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of employees in Canada said that the way an organization supports mental health is a key factor when deciding whether to stay with their current company. However, they ranked their employers’ support of physical health issues above both mental and financial well-being.

“Canadians are telling us that mental health support is most important to them and yet many employers are primarily focusing on the compensation side of recruitment and retention strategies and providing well-being support for physical health first,” says Stephen Liptrap, president and CEO of Morneau Shepell. “What worked in the past is no longer the primary path to success. Mental health is not the same taboo topic it once was, and employees are not only prioritizing their own mental health but also expecting employers to do the same.”

Top sources of stress
An employee’s work or workplace (22 per cent) and financial well-being (21 per cent) are the top sources of mental stress that employees have dealt with in the past six months, according to the survey.

Nearly half (45 per cent) say that the mental demands of their current job have increased over the past 18 to 24 months.

To address this, employees said that they would be willing to engage in:

  • talk therapy (53 per cent)
  • digital mindfulness or meditation (43 per cent)
  • prescription medication (39 per cent)
  • digital skill-building or cognitive behavioural therapy (38 per cent).

A large number of Canadian employees indicated that concerns with financial issues had a negative impact on both productivity (36 per cent) and attendance (24 per cent) in the workplace, found the survey.

A recent survey found two in five Canadian households with income of at least $150,000 are financially stressed.

“When it comes to financial stress, the surprising reality is that it’s an issue affecting individuals at all income levels,” said Paula Allen, senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation at Morneau Shepell. “As well, the fact that Canadians are feeling extreme financial strain but are still willing to accept less money for mental health support speaks volumes. Mental health support needs to be about seeing the full picture and providing the support necessary to help Canadians deal with difficulties across all areas of their wellbeing, including physical, financial and social, as well as mental.”

About 48 per cent of U.S. workers also said taking time off for vacation causes more work-related stress, with 23 per cent unable to completely disconnect from work while on vacation, according to a separate survey commissioned by Neuvana.

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