Organizational stress is the highest source of stress for Canadian employees and is strongly correlated to employee retention, according to new research by Morneau Shepell announced Jan. 30.

A cross Canada survey of employees and employers revealed that 40 per cent of managers and 34 per cent of employees reported suffering from “extreme levels of stress” over the last six months, “with both groups ranking workplace stress higher than personal stress.” 

Likely to leave

The survey found that 20 per cent of managers and 18 per cent of employees with high workplace stress would be likely to leave their organization due to the situation.

The research showed that several factors contribute to workplace stress, such as long hours, co-workers and job responsibilities.

An alarming trend

"More employees and managers are experiencing extreme levels of stress than ever before," said Stephen Liptrap, president and chief executive officer, Morneau Shepell. "In the last two years, both personal and workplace stress have increased by three per cent. This is particularly alarming as increasing workplace stress is contributing to heightened risk of employee retention in addition to the absence and disability risks we are aware of."

The Morneau Shepell research also found that the majority of employees and managers have dealt with a mental health issue or sleep-related disorder. Fifty-seven per cent of both groups indicated that they are currently suffering or have at some point in the past. Within this group, 27 per cent of employees and 32 per cent of managers report being able to perform daily routines despite mental health issues.

High performance depression

"Organizations need to be aware of the issue of high performance depression, which is often an issue among high performers. Those with high functioning depression are more likely to delay seeking care, resulting in health concerns being identified far too late and increasing the possibility of a mental health crisis," noted Liptrap. "It is increasingly important for employers to recognize high levels of stress and identify solutions before crises occur. Fostering positive responses to stress and ensuring that employee support programs are well understood are necessary to improve engagement and better position organizations for healthier futures."

Ontario employees most likely to be stressed

Morneau Shepell found that employees in Ontario (41 per cent), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (38 per cent) and Alberta (36 per cent) were the most likely to report high levels of stress, compared to individuals in Atlantic Canada (31 per cent), Quebec (29 per cent) and British Columbia and the Territories (29 per cent).