'Employers play a critical role by reinforcing the need for self-care and promoting resources such as EAPs and virtual healthcare'
After months of stress and uncertainty, the pandemic is having an impact on the motivation of many Canadian workers.
More than one-third (36 per cent) say that they are finding it more difficult to feel motivated to work, while 34 per cent say they find it more difficult to concentrate on work compared to before the pandemic, according to Morneau Shepell.
"Motivation is impacted by ongoing strain," says Paula Allen, senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation at Morneau Shepell. "A decline in motivation suggests emotional exhaustion. Right now, we have two main things driving that exhaustion. We are often not balancing work with fun, social contact and exploration. Rest is also important but we need more than rest to have balance.”
“Additionally, some [people] are working more and others are experiencing work as more draining because of concerns about job security or needing to deal with multiple mental and situational distractions, on top of the actual work. Both types of issues can be helped with planning and getting coaching or counselling."
Not getting help
However, many Canadians say that the pandemic has made them less likely to access healthcare for physical (29 per cent) and mental health needs (24 per cent) than prior to COVID-19, finds the survey.
"When life is disrupted, we are more likely to ignore important aspects of self-care. We might put things on hold or somehow think everything will automatically get better when things are less disrupted," says Allen. "Although Canadians are experiencing significant change in all areas of life, accessing physical and mental health support must remain a constant. Employers play a critical role in this by reinforcing the need for self-care and promoting resources such as employee assistance programs and virtual healthcare."
Eighty-five per cent of Canadians who have access to employee benefits believe benefit plans should offer virtual care benefits for both mental and physical health needs, according to a separate survey.
Top concerns impacting mental health are the financial impact of the pandemic (38 per cent), fear of getting ill (34 per cent) and fear of a loved one dying (30 per cent) – echoing the concerns reported in April and May by Morneau Shepell.
Those who are most concerned about loneliness during the pandemic had the worst mental health score (-25.8), finds the survey of 3,000 Canadian respondents conducted from Aug. 21 to Aug. 30.
Those with emergency savings (-5.3) report a much higher mental health score than those without (-23.4), while women had a lower mental health score (-12.2) than men (-8.2) for the sixth consecutive month.
Overall, Canadians’ mental health remains low and Morneau Shepell’s Mental Health Index score is -10 for September, versus the pre-pandemic benchmark of 75, highlighting an uneven pattern since the start of the pandemic.
Compared to the previous month, Canadians did better when it comes to psychological health (-1.9), isolation (-9.7), work productivity (-10.8), anxiety (-11.5), depression (-11.8) and optimism (-12.3).
However, financial risk (3.1) saw a decline after several months of improvement, according to the survey.
"The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is well underway, with case counts rapidly increasing and many provinces seriously assessing the need to revert back to previous lockdown measures," says Stephen Liptrap, president and CEO of Morneau Shepell.
"As we look to the coming months, it's critical that governments and organizations recognize the risk that the impending isolation will have on Canadians' wellbeing and take proactive action. If Canadians' mental health and wellbeing needs are not addressed, the resilience of our country will face a significant long-term threat."