Which benefits should employers provide to support employees with concerns for their financial future?
For the second consecutive month, the mental health score of workers in Canada declined in September to 64.4 from 64.6 in August. The decline comes as Canadian workers worry about their financial well-being, which is having an impact on their mental health.
TELUS Health’s latest Mental Health Index shows that three-quarters (74 per cent) of Canadian workers say it is important for their employer to offer a retirement savings option. As well, nearly one-fifth (18 per cent) of workers say unlimited mental health coverage is most important in a benefits plan.
Importantly, Canadians want financial planning help from their employers. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of workers want benefits packages with financial planning solutions, which is not surprising as the Index also shows that 44 per cent of Canadian are concerned about being able to purchase or rent a home and 70 per cent don’t know or are unsure of how much savings they will need to maintain their desired standard of living once they stop working.
“The current economic landscape has workers concerned about their financial futures and looking for advice on how to navigate a path forward,” says Juggy Sihota, chief growth officer, TELUS Health. “Employers who grasp the undeniable connection between mental and financial wellbeing have a unique opportunity to offer all-encompassing and impactful support. By providing access to comprehensive benefits plans, tools, and resources, employers empower their employees to forge a financially secure tomorrow for themselves and their loved ones.”
Financial well-being tied to mental health
The Index also shows that financial well-being is highly correlated with mental wellbeing; as financial wellbeing improves, so do mental health scores.
The most concerning mental health (54.9) and financial wellbeing (50.3) scores are among workers who do not know how much retirement savings they will need to maintain their desired standard of living. Conversely, workers who know how much they need to save for retirement have the most positive mental health and financial wellbeing scores (72.4 and 74.7 respectively). Workers not putting any portion of their income into savings have the worst (lowest) mental health and financial wellbeing scores.
Employees are at high risk of experiencing mental health issues, with 33 per cent of workers having a high mental health risk, 43 per cent having a moderate mental health risk, and 24 per cent having a low mental health risk.
TELUS Health also discovered that workers are concerned for the well-being of their loved ones. Interestingly, workers under 40 are two and a half times more likely than workers over 50 to consider benefits that provide coverage for parents the most important.
“From the responsibilities of caring for children, aging parents, and loved ones, to the aspirations of homeownership and retirement, preparing for the future can impose significant stress for people, both mentally and financially. Without a clear roadmap, the journey can often feel overwhelming,” says Paula Allen, global leader, research and client insights, TELUS Health. “We consistently see a striking correlation between the absence of emergency savings and lower mental health scores indicating the vital importance of equipping individuals with resources to help plan ahead.”
TELUS Health says the mental health and wellbeing of a population is essential to overall health and work productivity. The increases and decreases in the Mental Health Index are intended to predict cost and productivity risks and inform the need for investment in mental health support by business and government.