LifeWorks, a provider of human-resources services, recently released its monthly mental-health index score for June, which is more than 10 points below a pre-pandemic benchmark. The company attributes the increased anxiety to a lack of clarity about companies’ return-to-work plans.

“As flexibility and hybrid work environments become part of everyday life, yet another workplace transition is likely to cause increased mental strain among working Canadians,” Stephen Liptrap, LifeWorks president and CEO, said in the report.

The research found that 25 percent of Canadians are unclear about their employer’s reopening plans, while 12 percent do not think their employer has a plan. These groups had the lowest mental-health scores (-17.9 and -14.9, respectively) compared with employees who said their organization’s plan was clear.

In addition, 38 percent of respondents expect that their employer will want all staff back to their original workplace; 17 percent think their employer will continue to allow remote work; 14 percent expect to be onsite at least part time and only 6 percent believe they will be able to choose their work location.

Those who believed they would have a choice scored substantially better on the mental-health index than the general population.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, prolonged uncertainty has contributed to feelings of anxiety and a decline in optimism among Canadians,” said Paula Allen, a LifeWorks senior vice president.

She notes an improvement in mental outlook as the economy reopens, but adds that the improvement is “fragile.”

“The next few months will be pivotal,” she said in a statement. “We need to regain a sense of control and deal with the increased mental tension that has become a norm.”

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