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April 2nd is National Employee Benefits Day

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Canadian Employee Benefits Day – April 2nd, 2013

National Employee Benefits Day acknowledges trustees, administrators, corporate benefits practitioners and professional advisors for their dedication to providing quality benefits and the important role they play in their colleagues’ well-being.

This year National Employee Benefits Day is celebrated on April 2nd. We encourage you to use the day to evaluate your employee benefit offerings and to take time to educate your employees on the valuable benefits you offer. The day is also a time to recognize yourself and your peers for all your hard work and dedication!

The theme of this year’s Canadian Employee Benefits Day is "Mental Health in the Workplace". Although 20% of Canadians are estimated to suffer from mental illness each year, many employers do not focus on the psychological health of their workforce. We encourage you to educate yourself about mental health issues in the workplace and how you can make a proactive difference.

Why Mental Health in the Workplace Matters

Given that most people in employment spend approximately 60% of their waking hours at work (Black, 2008) understanding the financial and human costs of workplace mental health is essential to helping employers develop an action plan for improving both the bottom line and employee well-being.

Many people face mental health issues during their prime working years

  • 12% of all diseases and injuries worldwide can be attributed to mental and behavioural disorders.
  • In Canada alone, mental and behavioural disorders account for 25% of disease and injury.
  • Disability-related absences from the workplace represent anywhere from 4% to 12% of payroll costs in Canada; mental health claims (especially depression and anxiety) have overtaken cardiovascular disease as the fastest growing category of disability costs in Canada.
  • 20% of Canadian workers experience a stress related illness every year.
  • It is estimated that 10% of the Canadian working population has a diagnosable mental illness.
  • Chrysalis Performance Inc. research shows that stress in a business may contribute up to:
  • 19% of absenteeism cost
  • 40% of turnover cost
  • 55% of EAP costs
  • 30% of short term disability and long term disability costs
  • 60% of workplace accidents
  • 10% of drug plan costs
  • 100% of stress related lawsuits.
  • Men in high-stress jobs are two times more likely to experience psychological distress when experiencing job-stress than those men in low-stress jobs. Women in high-stress jobs have a 44% greater risk of experiencing psychological distress when experiencing job stress than those women who have little-to-no stress in their current employment positions.

The Canadian Economy Loses Billions to Mental Health Issues:

  • Mental illness-related disability claims (short-term & long-term) account for up to one third of the workplace claims, equaling approximately 70% of workplace costs & translating to 33 billion dollars to the Canadian economy on an annual basis.
  • An employee with a previous disability claim that is related to mental illness/disability is almost seven times more likely to have another disability claim related to that illness than someone with no previous disability episode related to mental illness.

Stigma associated with mental health issues may discourage people from seeking help:

  • Only half of depressed workers in the United States seek treatment.
  • Stigma continues to prevent people from seeking treatment for mental illness.
  • According to research, stigma within the community, among healthcare and vocational rehabilitation workers, in the workplace and internalized stigma has been cited to cause a 70% misdiagnosis rate.

Making reasonable accommodation of mental health issues at work makes good business sense:

  • The costs for providing reasonable mental health-related accommodations are often fairly low; with most costs well under $500 per person per year.
  • A potential savings of up to $10,000 per employee per year in the cost of prescription drugs, sick leave, and average wage replacement can be achieved through reasonable accommodation.
  • Employees who are diagnosed with depression and take appropriate medication may save their employer an average of 11 days a year in prevented absenteeism.

Promoting mental health benefits to workers and organizations:

  • Early, regular and sensitive contact with employees during sickness absences can be a key factor in enabling an early return to work.
  • Pfizer Canada recieved a Canada Award for Excellence in Healthy Workplace in 2009. The award recognized Pfizer’s formalizing and offering an official program, VIVA Health and Well-Being. VIVA is based on illness prevention, awareness and employee support. More than three-quarters of employees said the VIVA program adds value to their jobs, helps them reach their health goals, improves morale, keeps them energized and helps reduce stress.
  • In today’s competitive labour market, employers are encouraged to offer services and benefits that attract and retain quality employees.


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