About Workplace Chaplains

OC Tech Services
April 27 2023

Why Employee Wellness Resources are Needed 

What has become evident through widespread scholarly articles, government reports and Employee Wellness Program independent studies is that: 

  • 20% of North American employees experience mental health struggles every year  
  • 32% of Canadians are at high risk for mental health struggles and an additional 43% are at moderate risk.1,2  

In 2021, the Canadian government published a statistic that 30% of disability claims were due to mental health struggles.1  

These numbers are surprising because they are so significant and have implications that ripple across Canada to every employer’s office.  

Amidst these staggering numbers, a 2012 study found that 90% of companies were providing an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), most often included through insurance coverage. Unfortunately, usage of these widely available programs is reported at just 11% in Canada (according to Benefits Canada.)  

To summarize, mental health struggles are impacting 1 in every 3 to 5 employees and just 1 of every 10 is using the program provided to them. In other words, there is a need that is not being met by the EFAPs (Employee and Family Assistance Programs). 

Does mental health impact the workplace?  

As mentioned previously, 30% of Canadian disability claims are due to mental health struggles … that translates to time off work, working short-handed and the potential for long-term disability of valued employees.  

The big questions building from these findings both scholastically as well as experientially/anecdotally are: 

  1. Why Hardly Anyone Uses Employee Assistance Programs
  2. [How can I] Increase Use of [my] Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  3. What makes an effective EAP?5 

Ironically these questions are all titles of various articles, blogs and scholarly publications all seeking to address an evident need in the workplace. 

If you want to see more about the current landscape of the Canadian workplace, take a look at this data sheet with even more surprising stats and trends: The Changing Canandian Workforce

But Wait There is a Catch… Addressing the Millennial Problem 

Statistics Canada has published that Millennials make up over half of the working population of Canada and by 2025 will comprise over 75% of the workforce.  

Dynamic and evolving leadership is a requirement of leaders across the country as they seek to: bring the experience and wisdom of past generations that have made Canada what it is today, and yet have the agility to address and lead the emerging generation that is flooding into the workplace.  

While the ‘Millennial problem’ is becoming a point of contention between employers and the workforce, the most successful businesses, government branches and start-ups, are ones able to leverage the unique strengths of the generation filling out the ranks, while also providing opportunities for personal, professional, and spiritual growth. 

According to a recent study by Sanford Health, the values of the largest demographic block of the workforce and the workforce of the foreseeable future must be addressed to create both an employer of choice as well as address retention, workplace satisfaction, workplace engagement and community health.6 The following is a breakdown of what millennial respondents said mattered most to them.   

  • 79% - Family 
  • 53% - Health and Wellness 
  • 39% - Friends 
  • 31% - Spirituality 
  • 27% - Career  

Does Any of This Translate to Productivity or the Bottom Line? 

Most advertisements made by EFAPs (Employee and Family assistance programs) focus on the increase in productivity. While the measures of this are highly industry-dependent, the studies show consistently that usage of an EFAP impacts health and wellness of the employee and, ultimately, productivity of the workforce.7,8  

Further, there are numerous studies on the Return on Investment (ROI) of such programs and the ability to offset the costs of the program by the benefits that it brings.  

The exciting part is that chaplaincy programs within the United States are beginning to show similar trends as EFAPs with even stronger correlations to workplace benefits.  

From our experience in the workplace, Corporate Chaplains Canada sees an average engagement from employees of 40-85%! 

Workplace Chaplaincy: A Creative Solution Built Around Employee Needs

Read Part 2 of our Workplace Chaplaincy series here:  "Workplace Chaplaincy: A Creative Solution Built Around Employee Needs"

This second installment looks back 1700 years to the origins of chaplaincy, and then explores the question of "What is workplace chaplaincy?" for today. As well, this article considers how chaplaincy can be a pre-emptive strategy to address the mental health crisis affecting the Canadian workforce right now.