Managers failing in areas like work-life balance, communication, recognition

Employees looking for more mental health support

Managers failing in areas like work-life balance, communication, recognition

Many workers are looking for more support from their employers, especially from their leaders.

While two-thirds (67 per cent) say their supervisors effectively support their mental health, there are definite areas for improvement, according to a survey commissioned by Canada Life’s Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (WSMH) and conducted by Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC).

Overall, only 27 per cent of employees say their leader requires them to take their required breaks and time off and just 25 per cent claim their leader supports and encourages work-life balance.

Even fewer say they feel appreciated by their leader (21 per cent), their leader always communicates changes that may impact their work (20 per cent) and that their leader helps them manage their workload demand (15 per cent), finds the survey of 1,600 Canadian workers.

However, almost half (48 per cent) of managers “strongly agree” they demonstrate appreciation and regularly recognize their team’s efforts and hard work, and almost half (47 per cent) ensure their team members are kept up to date on changes that may impact them.

And only one-third of managers strongly agree that they have regular communication and collaboration with their employees regarding their positions in the company.

“The message is clear: Many employees are not feeling as psychologically safe as their supervisors or managers think they are,” says Mary Ann Baynton, director of collaboration and strategy at WSMH.

“Leaders don’t have to be mental health experts to create psychologically safe workplaces. It can be as simple as encouraging employees to take their breaks every day or helping to set priorities, so employees are less likely to feel overwhelmed or exhausted.”

Almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of employees say their employer does not offer mental health resources to workers, according to a previous report.

More than half (53 per cent) of workers believe their work is suffering because of poor mental health, found a separate survey of more than 32,000 workers from 17 countries.

Leadership challenges

Part of the challenge may be that 43 per cent of people leaders say their roles are harder now than before the pandemic, while 53 per cent they’re about the same, finds the WSMH survey of 1,257 leaders.

The areas that leaders found most challenging in supporting employees are:

  • discussing employee goals
  • addressing fears in relation to information that must be kept confidential
  • dealing with employee’s emotional reactions in times of stress for leaders and employees
  • developing employees’ interpersonal skills in addition to technical skills.


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