When examining employee perceptions of employer readiness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, results show that working Canadians believe organizations reacted swiftly to equip teams with technology, policies and protective measures, but may have overlooked other supports and resources, especially for mental health.

April 27, 2020

ADP Canada’s Workplace Insight series explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace. The first survey found most working Canadians felt safe at work in the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the latest pulse survey explores employer preparedness and response to the pandemic. Conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of ADP Canada, the second survey shows that while many organizations are working hard to provide adequate guidelines and resources to support employees, responses vary by industry.

Early Successes

Nearly nine in 10 working Canadians said their organizations have adapted quickly to a new normal, swiftly adopting new policies and procedures related to COVID-19 to protect their workforce during the pandemic. Respondents report that most employers are also providing tangible resources for remote work and 75 per cent are providing regular, timely updates about the pandemic to their teams.

Key Findings:

  • 89 per cent of working Canadians said their employer has either updated existing policies or introduced new policies as a result of the pandemic
  • 75 per cent of respondents feel employers provide regular, timely updates on COVID-19
    • Over 80 per cent of workers in government, healthcare, education, and business or professional services report receiving timely updates
  • Responses indicate that nearly three out of five employers (59%) are providing additional resources for employees to work from home

Areas for Improvement

While communication lines are open and companies have moved quickly to physically protect their workforce, the survey highlights an opportunity to further support the mental health of employees – particularly those on the front lines of the pandemic. Less than half of healthcare workers (46%) and only a quarter (27%) of those working in retail/food services/hospitality and warehouse/transportation say their employer is providing additional mental health support.

  • Across all industries, only 45 per cent of respondents reported that their organizations are providing employees with additional mental health resources
    • Only 27 per cent of Quebecers reported receiving additional mental health resources from their employer, the lowest in the country

Although mental health supports may be limited in the retail/food service/hospitality sectors, employees working in these industries are the most likely to report receiving additional financial support from their employer with nearly half (44%) stating that their organization is helping them financially. This, however, is not the norm, with less than one-quarter (24%) of respondents overall stating that their employers are providing additional financial support.

Additional Findings: Employer Preparedness

Canadians are divided on whether their workplace was prepared for COVID-19. 44 per cent of respondents believe their workplace was prepared for the pandemic, while 51 per cent did not feel their workplace was prepared. These responses vary across provinces/territories and industries.

  • Only 39 per cent of healthcare workers felt their organization was prepared for the pandemic
  • Workers in Quebec (61%) were most likely to say their workplace was not prepared for the pandemic
  • Over half of those in business and professional services (54%) felt their organization was prepared – the highest across all industries

About ADP Canada’s Workplace Insight series on COVID-19

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a global pandemic affecting many aspects of life, including employment and the Canadian and global economies.

ADP Canada has engaged Angus Reid to conduct bi-weekly surveys in order to deliver timely, relevant insights on how workplaces have been impacted by the pandemic, as well as their level of preparedness and how they’ve responded to this international pandemic.

This online survey of 756 working Canadians was completed between April 14 and 15, 2020, using Angus Reid’s online panel. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of 756 would yield a margin of error of +/-3.6%, 19 times out of 20.

This survey is done in addition to Angus Reid’s own research on the COVID-19 crisis, a weekly tracker that informs Canadians on changes in attitude and behaviour each week. This includes a representative sample of n=756 Canadian Adults (age 18+ yrs.) who are members of the Angus Reid Forum.