Nearly 50% of québec workers in high psychological distress

Près de 50% des travailleurs québécois en grande détresse psychologique

Près de 50% des travailleurs québécois en grande détresse psychologique

A sample of 1259 Quebec representative of the population in terms of gender, age and education participated in the survey-led by professor Caroline Biron.

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June 4, 2020

Updated June 5, 2020 4h19

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Nearly 50% of québec workers in high psychological distress

Près de 50% des travailleurs québécois en grande détresse psychologique

Près de 50% des travailleurs québécois en grande détresse psychologique

Elizabeth Fleury

The Sun

Nearly 50% of québec workers suffer from a high level of psychological distress, all types of jobs combined, whether they are teleworking or not, reveals a web-based survey, conducted between April 30 and may 7 by a team of researchers from the Faculty of administrative sciences of Université Laval.

A sample of 1259 Quebec representative of the population in terms of gender, age and education participated in the survey-led by professor Caroline Biron.

“You have people from different sectors who responded to the survey, workers who originate for example from municipal, provincial, federal, private, health care, services open to the public such as grocery stores…” lists, in the interview, Ms. Biron, who is also the director of the Centre of expertise in the management of health and safety at work of the Faculty of administrative sciences of Université Laval.

According to Ms. Biron, respondents in telework are not more or less distressed than other workers surveyed. “There is no significant difference between the two. The factors responsible for the distress, they are the same as it is on the work premises or working at home,” notes the researcher.

Among these factors are: social support from colleagues or supervisor, workload and recognition.

“When the support is low, we have 58% of people with elevated distress, compared to 42% when the support is high. […] If I look at the factor of the workload, people in work overload are elevated distress in a proportion of 60%, against 40% when the load is more balanced. The recognition, it is this that is most striking: it was 62% of people with elevated distress when they do not feel recognized at work, compared with 38% when they feel recognized,” explains Caroline Biron.

Another finding of the study, which will not surprise anyone: the mental health of workers in the sector of health and social services is particularly affected, while 60% of respondents from this sector reported a high level of psychological distress. In comparison, the respondents from private companies reported a high level of psychological stress in a proportion of 41%, says the researcher.

Executives or first-line managers are part of the people who live the most psychological distress, when compared to managers who are “high-level”, which seem to be more protected, see also Caroline Biron.

The survey also reveals that women suffer psychological distress in a larger proportion than men (56% versus 41%). This is a significant increase compared to pre-pandemic collected in 2015 by the Institut de la statistique du Québec in the Survey of québec health of the population, in which approximately 33% of women and 24% of men reported a high level of distress, says in the press release of the University of Laval in summarizing the study of professor Biron.

Among the other survey highlights: 75% of respondents reported sleep problems, and 37 % reported having been of “presenteeism” (working sick) during the past seven days, both among those who telework than among those who move to their place of employment.

Job performance also seems to be affected by the current situation, while nearly a third of respondents (30 %) rate their performance as being less than or equal to 70% of their maximum yield.

“When the organisations of the respondents attach a great importance to the psychological health of the staff as to productivity, they were 24% less people stranded high and 12% more workers with high performance” as the rest of the sample, note Caroline Biron.

For the researcher, what the survey shows is the importance for organizations to “take care of their people”, “heal the job.”

“The psychological health in the workplace it is often the poor child in health and safety in the workplace. […] It is necessary to do more than give a few more sessions in the aid program, it is necessary to look after the organization of the work, provide quality jobs,” said Ms. Biron.

If an organization is capable of doing, for example, changes in technology, a priority to improve its performance, it is also capable of making mental health a priority “because in acting on the distress, it also acts on the performance,” recalls the professor.

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