Canadians willing to take new job for less pay if it means more mental health support: study

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Importance of well-being and mental health in the workplace
WATCH: Dora Newcombe of Morneau Shepell joins 'Global News Morning Calgary' to discuss the results of a survey that rates how much importance Canadians place on mental health and well-being support in their jobs – Jan 29, 2020

A new survey suggests most Canadians would be willing to leave their job for one that paid less if it meant having better access to mental health support at work.

The poll from Morneau Shepell, released on Tuesday, looked at how much importance Canadians place on mental health and well-being support in their jobs.

Sixty per cent of respondents said they’d leave their current employer for another job where they’d make less money if the prospective employer offered better wellness benefits.

In addition, the study suggested over 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 well-being.

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Speaking to Global News Morning Calgary on Tuesday, Dora Newcombe from Morneau Shepell said the way mental health and well-being impacts employees has shifted.

“I don’t think we ever imagined that we’d be in that situation,” Newcombe said. “Employers have to look at the programs that they’re offering to support mental health and well-being because that is becoming a No. 1 priority for employees.”

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According to the company, which provides technology-enabled HR services, the purpose of the survey was to understand and compare the perspective of Canadian workers to those in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Morneau Shepell said employees polled in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom all ranked mental health as the top factor in their overall well-being — rising above physical health and personal health.

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A Tuesday news release said respondents also cited their employers’ support for mental health as “critical” to how they view the workplace.

“In each country, close to three-quarters of employees (76 per cent in Canada, 71 per cent in the United States and 69 per cent in the United Kingdom) said that the way an organization supports mental health was a key factor when deciding whether to stay with their current organization,” the release stated.

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Another finding from the survey was that close to half of respondents (45 per cent) felt the mental demands of their job had increased in the past 18 to 24 months, with only four per cent saying it had decreased.

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“The fact that you have people saying: ‘My workplace is more demanding in the last two years than it ever has been before’ — that’s shocking,” Newcombe said.

“I think we expect that if people have been in their roles for 10 years, it should be becoming easier, not more physically demanding.”

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Mental health and the workplace

So what’s the solution?

Though Newcombe said she thinks companies still have a role to play in helping their workers have access to mental health supports, she said employees also have some responsibility to take care of their well-being.

“[If] your employer is offering programs around meditation, mindfulness, counselling, digital programs to help build skills — people need to sign up [and] make sure that they’re actually engaging,” Newcombe said. “Because at the end of the day, they’re responsible; they have to meet their employer halfway.”
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The poll from Morneau Shepell surveyed 8,000 people in both English and French in August and September 2019 and was released on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. Data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflect the population.

According to Morneau Shepell, the poll carries a margin of error of +/- 3.2 per cent, valid 19 times out of 20.

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