Where employees stand on mandatory vaccination, work-from-home policies

Lifeworks also looks at how those attitudes intersect with mental health scores.
mental Health

Lifeworks continues to track how employee mental health is being impacted by the pandemic, with the July data of its Mental Health Index showing an overall improvement since April.

Since reaching “crisis levels” in November and December of last year, Canadian employees’ mental health has more-or-less consistently improved and has now returned to a level last seen around September of 2020.

In its latest study, however, Lifeworks also examined Canadian attitudes around mandatory vaccination plans and work-from-home policies – as well as how those desires intersect with mental health – providing some insights for leaders and managers currently planning their return to the workplace.

For starters, it found that under half of Canadians (47%) want employers to implement mandatory vaccines as part of their reopening plans. This group’s mental health score is -9.1, which is slightly more favourable than the -9.7 score recorded for the group that does not want employer-mandated vaccination policies (37%). The 20% of respondents who were unsure whether or not they wanted such a policy had the lowest mental health score of all, at -12.5.

Moreover, it found that managers are 20% more likely than non-managers to want mandatory vaccinations for the return to the workplace. As a whole, managers have slightly less favourable mental health scores (-10.9) than non-managers (-9.3).

The finding comes on the heels of another survey by KPMG, released last week, that found 62% of Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses are making or plan to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for their employees.

And major companies, including Canada’s five largest banks, Canada Life, Sun Life Financial and Rogers Communications have all announced they will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to in-office activities. In some cases, the companies said they will subject those who can’t or won’t be vaccinated to frequent COVID-19 tests.

Lifeworks’ study also looked into employee attitudes around work-from-home policies. The 42% of respondents who say their job cannot be done from home had the least favourable mental health score (-11.5). In comparison, the 34% who indicate their job can be done from home full-time had the most favourable mental health score (-7.2), followed by the 24% who report that their job can be done from home part-time (-8.2).

The consultancy polled those who can work from home about the effects working from home has on their mental health, finding that 66% believe it has a positive impact. That group also had the most favourable mental health score, at -9.7.

The index is based on a survey conducted between June 30 and July 12 that included 3,000 Canadian respondents, all of whom were employed within the last six months. Lifeworks publishes its index monthly, using benchmark data collected in 2017, 2018, 2019.