A study by LifeWorks, a company that provides solutions to help clients support the wellbeing of people, found that employees need flexibility and clarity when it comes to return-to-work plans.
The study comes from the Mental Health Index, a monthly survey conducted online. July’s survey was conducted between May 28 and June 4 with 3,000 respondents in Canada.
Among the major findings of the study is that more than half — 52 per cent — of respondents are working mostly at the workplace and have the least favourable mental health score of -10.6. Those who do work at home and have always worked from home, 12 per cent of respondents, reported the most favourable mental health score of -8.2.
Nearly half per cent of respondents said their employer’s plan about return to work is clear, whereas 25 per cent said they are unclear of their employer’s plan for work. This group also has the least favourable mental health score of -17.9. A smaller portion of 12 per cent don’t believe their employer has a plan and also have a lower mental health score of 14.9.
Those who do consider their employers’ plan clear have a mental health score of -6.9
Paula Allen, global leader and senior vice-president of research and well-being with LifeWorks, said it’s important for workplaces to be clear about their return-to-work plans.
Allen said the uncertainty and lack of predictability is comprising workers’ mental health, and having more change and uncertainty about what the return to workplace looks like adds to that stress
“(It is) really important that employers understand that it’s important to be clear,” Allen said.
Allen said it is also important for employers to understand that this a period of change and a difficult time.
“Even though we have optimism about getting back to a more stable type of life situation and work situation, we’ve been through a fair bit and it’s been going on for a long time. People don’t just snap out of it immediately,” Allen told Global News.
This shows that there is need for ongoing support and recognition that it is a difficult time, Allen said.
LifeWork’s June 2021 study also found that six per cent of respondents said their employer would be OK with them choosing how and where they wanted to work, that group having the highest mental health score of -6.
Allen added it’s important for employers to provide as much flexibility as possible to give people a sense of control.
As for what companies can do to ensure a smooth transition back to work post-pandemic, Allen said it is important to prioritize well-being.
“Continuing to prioritize well-being is helpful because even as people are looking forward to going back, they’re looking forward to going back to a workplace that cares about them,” Allen said.
Allen said companies should make it clear how much control employees have over their work environment: will things go back to exactly how they were before the pandemic, will there by a hybrid model and how does the model look. Allen said hybrid models look different for different organizations.
“Also, if there is some control that you can have some choice, that you can have that framework of clarity plus that control, is really the best combination to support people right now,” Allen added.View link »