Nearly half of disability claims among younger employees related to mental health: RBC report

A new report from RBC Insurance has found that nearly half of long-term disability claims among younger employees in 2021 were related to mental health issues.

The report, released Wednesday, says the COVID-19 pandemic has "opened the door" to a better understanding of individual mental health needs as many employees prioritize workplace benefits plans amid an increasingly competitive job market and ongoing labour shortages.

Among RBC Insurance group plan members, the organization reported that 49 per cent new group long-term disability claims for younger employees between the ages of 18 and 35 were related to mental health, which RBC noted is trending upward since 2019.

Moreover, the report found that nearly half of younger Canadian employees surveyed indicated their employee benefits plan had not sufficiently addressed their health and wellness needs in the past year.

The poll was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of RBC Insurance using a sample of 1,001 working Canadians ages 18 and over who were interviewed between April 10-13. The results were measured using a credibility interval and are accurate within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, according to RBC.

Julie Gaudry, head of group benefits at RBC Insurance, said it's no surprise that employees are prioritizing their health given the "challenging and unpredictable year for so many working Canadians."

"Younger workers in particular are re-evaluating their personal needs and taking more proactive steps to address their mental health concerns," Gaudry said in a press release. "It will be crucial for benefits providers and employers to keep up with the changing needs of a younger workforce."

RBC also found that 68 per cent of Canadians polled would take a job with a good benefits plan over another job that pays more, but does not offer benefits.

If employers want to retain current employees, as well as gain new ones, Gaudry said businesses need to consider a comprehensive benefits plan for all workers.

"With the broader recent trend of people leaving their roles as a result of job dissatisfaction, businesses must consider the value of benefits to better support employee mental and financial health," Gaudry said in the release.