Nearly 20 per cent of Canadians who resigned amid pandemic cited work stress: survey

Nearly one in five Canadians who resigned from their jobs during the pandemic did so due to increased stress at work, according to a new survey.

The LifeWorks Mental Health Index is a monthly survey that asks Canadians questions about their mental health and well-being. The first survey was conducted in April 2020, and the data from each new survey is compared against benchmarks derived from pre-pandemic data collected in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

In the latest survey, 35 per cent of Canadians reported that they are either considering or are unsure about leaving their current job. These respondents reported a mental health score more than three times lower than those who are not considering leaving their job.

The survey also found that 16 per cent of respondents resigned from their jobs due to caregiving responsibilities. These respondents had among the least favourable mental-health scores (-28.4).

Older employees and parents were more likely to resign from their jobs than younger, childless workers, the survey found. Thirty-five per cent of respondents between the ages of 40-69 cited a lack of appreciation in the workplace as the reason for resigning, compared to nine percent of respondents aged 20-39.

Parents were more than twice as likely as non-parents to report resigning during the pandemic.

LifeWorks uses a system that turns individual responses into a point value. Higher points are associated with better mental health and less risk, according to the study. Using these points, an average score is calculated for the month. To measure change, the current month’s scores are compared against the pre-COVID benchmark score and the prior month’s score. A positive score reflects improvement, and negative scores reflect decline.

FLEXIBILITY IN A POST-COVID WORK WORLD

The survey found that 29 per cent of Canadians want to have flexibility in their work location in the post-pandemic work world.

Close to half of the respondents reported that their employer had not asked them about their work preferences for when the pandemic subsides. This group had the lowest mental-health score (-11.6).

Managers are nearly 40 per cent more likely than non-managers to report that their employers had asked them about their working preferences.

Stephen Liptrap, the president and CEO of LifeWorks, said the results from the latest index show that workers are continuing to feel stress over workplace changes.

“Canadians are indicating that actions speak louder than words when it comes to how employers address this,” he said in a statement.

“Building a supportive culture that speaks about and provides resources for mental health needs is a great first step. Employers must recognize that employees are considering resigning from their jobs if they don’t get support.”

The index results are part of a growing number of studies and data that suggest there’s been a “great resignation” of workers throughout the pandemic, sparking labour shortages

Paula Allen, LifeWorks senior vice-president of research and total well-being, said it’s important that employees feel like they are being heard.

“Listening to employees’ views plays a crucial role in ensuring they feel valued and motivated to continue doing their best work,” she said in a statement.

The survey was conducted online, in English and in French, from Sept. 2-10. A total of 3,000 respondents participated, and all of them were employed in Canada within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflects the population.