Canadian workers demanding more wellbeing support from employers

But employers say employees aren't noticing wellness initiatives: survey

Canadian workers demanding more wellbeing support from employers

Personal wellbeing is top of mind for most Canadian workers, and as a result, they are looking for more supports from their employers, according to a report.

Nearly nine in 10 (89 per cent) of Canadian professionals say their personal wellbeing has become a “top priority”, and 60 per cent think employers should be doing more to preserve employee wellbeing.

Nearly six in 10 (55 per cent) now expect more (such as benefits, working culture, empathetic leadership and ESG contributions) from their employers compared to 18 months ago, while less than a fifth state otherwise.

“In recent years, we have observed a shift in responsibility. The question is no longer ‘What can I do for a company?’ Instead, professionals are starting to ask, ‘How can my company help me?’” says Martin Fox, managing director of Robert Walters Canada, which did the survey.

“The rise in awareness in terms of employee wellbeing has not only caused employees to become more outspoken in terms of their own expectations in the workplace – but also shifted the spotlight onto employers, increasing expectations around what the leaders of companies should be doing to help their employees. Whilst budgets may be tight, 2024 is evidently not the year to turn a blind eye to money being spent on employee wellbeing.”

Many Canadians believe their employer is not equipped to support workers’ psychological health and safety at work, according to a recent TELUS Health report.

What boosts wellbeing at work?

Over three-quarters (76 per cent) of managers say their employees have become more outspoken in the workplace over the last three years when it comes to asking for things that they need, according to Robert Walters’ survey of over 1,700 Canadian professionals.

Over half (51 per cent) of managers feel that employees are becoming more vocal when it comes to demanding instant change – with a further quarter (89 per cent) claiming that employees are taking matters into their own hands so that they are in the driving seat.

Worker are taking matters into their own hands to manage their own wellbeing in relation to work by:

  • setting own work hours (36 per cent)
  • choosing which days to come to the office (28 per cent)
  • pushing back on workload (25 per cent)

“For professionals in an increasingly hybrid world, having autonomy in deciding the days they are in the office and setting their own work hours can help them avoid burnout – which right now, is enemy number one in terms of productivity and satisfaction levels,” says Fox.

“While we are definitely seeing more of a push to return to the office, caution must be taken as to whether this is a positive or negative move for employees mental health and work-life balance.”

Employers say wellbeing initiatives not noticed

With all these developments, only 15 per cent of professionals feel that workplace wellbeing has become a priority for their employers.

However, two in five (44 per cent) employers claim that their employees barely noticed the new interventions they’ve introduced to boost employee wellness, reports Robert Walters.

When it comes to mental health offerings, employers should not take a one-size fits all approach. That is because different workers seek out different avenues of help for their mental health needs, found a previous study.

“Upscaling wellbeing interventions can be as easy and inexpensive as flexible work arrangements, improving access to mental health resources, setting up mental health employee resource groups (ERGs), offering paid sabbaticals, or even adding plants and introducing more natural light into the workplace,” says Fox.

Here’s how to ensure success with a wellbeing program, according to an expert.

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