A majority of Canadians place a higher priority on mental health support than on compensation, according to a new survey.
The survey, by Morneau Shepell, found that most Canadians would consider leaving their current employer for a job that paid less money but offered better support for their personal well-being.
The poll is conducted annually to analyze to what extent compensation affects people’s decisions to quit their jobs. This year, the research was expanded for the first time to include survey respondents in the United States and United Kingdom.
Mental health was top factor in overall well-being
Across all locations, employees ranked mental health as the top factor in their overall well-being, above physical health and personal health. And an employer’s support for mental health was also important; 76% of people in Canada, 71% in the United States, and 69% in the United Kingdom said that the way an organization supports mental health was a key factor when it came to deciding whether to stay with their current organization.
They also found that 77% of Canadian employees would consider leaving their current organization for the same pay if their new workplace offered better support for their personal well-being. And 66% were still more likely to leave their current employer, even if they were offered less money but better personal well-being support. This was still the case for 51% of people who reported being under “high financial stress.”
Employers don’t yet understand the importance of mental health support
Employers aren’t entirely clued in. Despite mental health being named the main priority, employees in Canada and the United States said their employers place a higher priority on support of physical health issues.
“Canadians are telling us that mental health support is most important to them and yet, many employers are primarily focusing on the compensation side of recruitment and retention strategies and providing well-being support for physical health first,” said Stephen Liptrap, Morneau Shepell’s President and CEO, in a statement. “What worked in the past is no longer the primary path to success. Mental health is not the same taboo topic it once was, and employees are not only prioritizing their own mental health but also expecting employers to do the same.”
People are under continued stress
According to Morneau Shepell, employees are under “continued stress” in both their personal lives and workplaces. Asked what was stressing them out, survey respondents cited their work or workplace (22%) and financial well-being (21%) as the top factors.
And the demands are increasing. Forty-five per cent of people said that mental demands of their current job have increased over the past 18 to 24 months, while only four per cent said mental demands have decreased.
When it comes to support options, the most popular choice was talk therapy. Here’s what they found people were likely to engage in:
- 53% would be most likely to engage in talk therapy over other forms of support for anxiety or depression.
- 43% would make use of digital mindfulness or meditation.
- 38% would engage in cognitive behavioural therapy.
- 38% indicated a willingness to take prescription medication.
Belonging is central to well-being
One more key finding is that feelings of belonging play a key role in mental health. Of those who reported “excellent mental health,” only 11% indicated a sense of isolation at work, while those who reported “extreme or very poor mental health,” 47% reported a sense of isolation at work.
“Supporting the culture and behaviour of employees is critical to ensure that individuals have a positive experience and show up to work each day, both physically and mentally,” Said Paula Allen, Morneau Shepell’s SVP of Research, Analytics and Innovation. “Organizations have a responsibility to provide training that encourages collaboration and inspires employees to treat each other with kindness and respect. Fostering peer support is one of the most important investments an organization can make and, beyond improving an employee’s everyday experience, this is a great strategy to contribute more value to the bottom line.”