Employees Concerned About Mental Health: Survey

Date: May 13, 2008

by Craig Sebastiano

Canadian workers are concerned about stress and the impact it's having on their mental health, according to the 11th edition of The sanofi-aventis Healthcare Survey.

It appears that employees are in good health as two-thirds of them say their health was excellent or very good over the past year.

However, 39% acknowledge that workplace stress has made them physically ill at times, up from 25% in 2002. And 18% say stress–both at work and at home–has made them physically ill. Respondents also expressed growing concerns about being at risk for developing chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

The findings also show that respondents have significant information gaps regarding the appropriate practices they should adopt to prevent or reduce the effects of certain health conditions.

"Beyond governments, they are looking to their employers for support and access to health education and programming," says Chris Bonnet, president of H3 Consulting and a member of the The sanofi-aventis Healthcare Survey advisory board. "Plan sponsors gain a healthier and more loyal workforce, and so it makes sense to consider a comprehensive response that includes high-quality and more flexible health benefit plans, and a greater emphasis on prevention."

The survey also shows employees recognize the importance of workplace wellness programs and education as a means to help them in coping with increasing health risks. Seventy-one percent of respondents without workplace wellness programs say they would be interested in participating in such programs if they were offered by their employer.

By shifting their health benefit plans to focus on prevention, employers could also realize higher employee retention and satisfaction levels and lower benefit costs.

Eighty-three percent of respondents say they would be more likely to stay in their job if they really believed their employer was interested in maintaining their good health and 75% think more highly of their employer thanks to the health benefit plan provided.

Fewer respondents (35%) whose employer provides health education at work are likely to report having high and prolonged workplace stress compared to those without such programs (44%).

Sanofi-aventis commissioned Rogers Business and Professional Publishing Group, the parent company of Benefits Canada, to conduct the survey. Ipsos-Reid conducted the survey with a random national sample of 1,500 primary health benefit plan members.

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