Employees, employers living different recession realities according to health survey

    TORONTO, July 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian employees and employers have
completely different perceptions and opinions about the effects of the current
recession on their work and personal lives, according to the 2009 Desjardins
Financial Security Health Survey. The purpose of this year's health survey,
which took place earlier this spring, was to measure the effects of the
recession on employees and employers across Canada.

    Expected recession duration: employees are more pessimistic

    One key difference between the two is their opinion of the recession
duration. Employees are more pessimistic, saying that the recession will last
21 months (an average of 1.78 years). Employers on the other hand are more
optimistic with 53.1 per cent saying that the recession will last one year or
less (an average of 1.49 years).
    "Actually, the worst part of the Canadian recession occurred in the first
quarter of 2009. In January, people were talking about a potential world-wide
depression when the country posted the biggest employment decline in since
1976," said Yves St-Maurice, Deputy Chief Economist with Desjardins Group.
"However, the eye of the storm is now behind us and the Canadian economy will
bottom out this fall when the recovery will begin. However, it won't be until
the fall of 2010 when we'll see the start of a true expansion phase when
production will return to pre-recession levels. The recession will then have
lasted about one year."

    Employees worried about losing their jobs

    Employers were asked what further improvements they would consider, 19.3
per cent would increase sales, 9 per cent would provide job stability and 7
per cent would ensure the business' economic recovery. When asked the same
question, employees' want job security, increased business and management
support. In fact, 43 per cent of employees are worried about losing their jobs
and many believe that employers are using the recession as an excuse to cut
staff. Ironically, 70 per cent of employers are increasing their workforces.
Also, 70 per cent of employers have improved benefits (a priority for only 5
per cent of employees), 64 per cent have communicated the business
implications of the recession to staff and 29 per cent have supported
employees who were dramatically impacted by the recession (a priority for only
5 per cent of employees).

    Employers concerned about the recession's affect on employees' health

    When asked whether the recession has negatively affected workers'
work/life balance, both groups agreed. One quarter of employees and 37 per
cent of employers also agreed that the recession has negatively affected
employees' physical health. When asked if the recession has had an affect on
staff's mental health, 35 per cent of employees and 63 per cent of employers
said yes. Employees' stress levels was found to be another factor in their
declining health, as 35 per cent said they are experiencing higher stress this
year compared to last.

    Work environment: opposite views

    When it comes to the current work environment since the start of the
recession, employees and employers have completely different perceptions.
Close to a quarter of employees said that their environments have become more
negative while 73 per cent of employers said that theirs have become more
    "What's evident in these results is that a clear and open dialogue is
urgently needed between employers and their staff, but not just during
difficult times," said Dr. Taylor Alexander, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health
Association, National Office. "Of course, we believe that both groups are
responsible for managing their own mental and physical health. But, employers
must also help create a mentally-healthy workplace for their staff. Leadership
on this issue starts at the top. For example, we encourage bosses to keep the
lines of communication open with tools like employee surveys and bi-monthly
staff meetings. These are inexpensive aids that will help keep employees
engaged, empowered and supported."

    About the 2009 Health Survey

    SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing conducted the survey on behalf
of Desjardins Financial Security. The web-based employee survey was conducted
between March 30 and April 15, 2009. In total, 1,062 interviews were completed
with a sample of Canadian workers who work for a company or organization with
at least 10 employees. The telephone-based employer survey was conducted
between May 5 and May 22, 2009. In all, 381 interviews were tabulated with a
sample of Canadian private companies or organizations with at least 10
employees and that offer group benefits (group insurance and/or group
retirement or savings plans) to their employees. The data was weighted to
reflect the distribution of the Canadian organizations with a staff of at
least 10 in terms of the country's main regions (Atlantic Provinces, Quebec,
Ontario, the Prairies, and British Columbia), while taking into account the
number of non-eligible respondents.

    About Desjardins Financial Security

    Desjardins Financial Security, a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the
largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada, specializes in
providing life insurance, health insurance and retirement savings products to
individuals and groups. Every day, over five million Canadians rely on
Desjardins Financial Security to ensure their financial security. Desjardins
Financial Security employs 3,800 people and administers $19.7 billion in
assets from offices in several cities across the country, including Vancouver,
Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec, Lévis, Halifax and St.
John's. For more information please visit http://www.dfs.ca. For more
information about the health survey, visit: www.healthiscool.ca.

    About the Canadian Mental Health Association

    The Canadian Mental Health Association, National Office is a leading
national voluntary organization within the mental health sector. For more than
90 years, it has existed to promote the mental health of all people in Canada
and to serve mental health consumers, their families and friends through
education, public awareness, research, advocacy and direct services. In
addition to its National office, the CMHA has 11 provincial and territorial
Divisions and some 135 Branches and Regions in communities across Canada. To
find more information about mental health, visit www.cmha.ca.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview, contact: Sarah
Twomey, Desjardins Financial Security, (416) 926-2700, toll free:
1-877-906-5551, ext. 2015; Virtual newsroom:

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