Skip to content

More than half of Canadians go to work while feeling unwell: survey

64 per cent of parents work while unwell compared to 36 per cent of non-parents
54 per cent of Canadians say they go to work while feeling unwell at least one day per week. (

Do you ever go to work feeling less than your best? If so, you’re not alone.

According to the August Mental Health Index compiled by LifeWorks (formerly Morneau Shepell), 54 per cent of Canadians work while feeling physically or psychologically unwell at least once a week.

Parents are far more likely to work while unwell at 64 per cent, compared to 36 per cent of non-parents. The 46 per cent of respondents who said they never work while feeling unwell reported the highest mental health scores, but those people are also more likely to be in jobs where their salary or hours are not changed by taking sick days.

Going to work while feeling unwell can impact work performance. LifeWorks found that those who work while unwell say they put about 74 per cent of their energy into their workday, whereas people who feel well say they put in 85 per cent of their energy. And those who put in more energy at work reported higher mental health scores than those who didn’t.

But when it comes to mental health and work, work settings can also play a role.

RELATED: Gig apps offer part-time, no-commitment work in a pandemic economy

RELATED: Is your pandemic pup lonely when you’re at work? UBC offers tips on how to help them cope

LifeWorks found that people who work at home full-time experience worse feelings of isolation and feel a lower sense of belonging than those who work at a job site.

“While remote or hybrid work offers flexibility and saves commuting time, there is a risk that people may feel less connection to their organizations and colleagues over time,” LifeWorks CEO Stephen Liptrap said.

“When transitioning to a virtual setting during the pandemic, many employees lost the spontaneity of conversations that they may have found invigorating. To ensure a successful return to the workplace, employers should consider innovative ways to lessen feelings of isolation and create a culture free from bias, regardless of work location..”

On the note of wellness during the pandemic, the August Mental Health Index recorded the highest mental health scores since the index was launched in April 2020 but still remains below pre-pandemic levels.

Data for the LifeWorks Mental Health Index is collected through an online survey of 3,000 people who live in Canada and are currently employed or who were employed within the prior six months. Participants are selected to be representative of the age, gender, industry, and geographic distribution in Canada.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.