Pandemic fallout: Canadian workers losing 41 working days per year to absences and presenteeism

Manulife 2021 Wellness Report

  • 16% of working hours were lost in 2021 due to health-related absences and presenteeism – that’s 41.2 days per employee per year
  • 48% of employees are experiencing at least one work-related mental health risk factor
  • Mental fatigue is the #1 reason employees aren’t making healthy choices
  • Lack of work-life balance is the #1 mental health risk factor
  • Work-related stress is the #1 factor affecting employees’ sleep

Toronto, ON (Mar. 28, 2021) – Manulife’s 2021 Wellness Report highlights how the pandemic is affecting employee health, and underscores that two years into the pandemic, Canadian workers continue to struggle to take care of their health and wellbeing.

“Employee mental health patterns could be K-shaped as we move through the next phase of the pandemic,” said Dr. Georgia Pomaki, Director, Mental Health Best Practices, Manulife. “One arm of the K represents employees who are excited about reopening and returning to the office—the other represents a group of employees who are facing mental health challenges and significant fatigue: for this group, a return to office may feel overwhelming. Organizations need to consider both groups to design effective and supportive return to office programs.”

The Report highlights that 16% of working hours (41 days) were lost in 2021 due to absences and presenteeism, and close to half (48%) of employees are experiencing at least one work-related mental health risk factor. These findings suggest employers should consider placing significantly more focus on culture and wellness programs in 2022 and beyond, particularly as large employee populations return to Canadian offices in the near future.

It’s clear a strong workplace culture positively impacts employee health: the Report shows those organizations scoring highest in healthy workplace culture and wellness initiatives, also achieved the best results across key health indicators.

“The Manulife Wellness Report shows us that mental health supports like virtual psychotherapy, Employee Assistance Programs, and mindfulness sessions translate into employee health and well-being improvements,” said Dr. Pomaki. “Organizations can help employees by removing barriers to accessing these benefits, increasing communications about available products and services, and helping reduce the stigma around their use. Given what we have been living through the past two years, if there’s ever a time to accelerate these efforts, the time is now.”


The Wellness Report is an informative tool that helps support Manulife’s Health by Design strategy. Health by Design is a proactive care model focused on the latest in science, technology, and data to design the best possible outcomes for our customers. Through personalized support, our customers get the right care at the right time in the right way.

56 Manulife Group sponsors participated in the 2021 Wellness Report and 6,141 employees responded to the online surveys. The Wellness Report surveys were conducted in February, May, and October 2021.

The Wellness Report powered by Manulife Vitality for Group Benefits, is free for Manulife Group Benefits or Group Retirement customers, and after participating, qualifying organizations receive a free tailored health report.

About Manulife Investment Management

Manulife Investment Management is the global brand for the global wealth and asset management segment of Manulife Financial Corporation. We draw on more than a century of financial stewardship and the full resources of our parent company to serve individuals, institutions, and retirement plan members worldwide. Headquartered in Toronto, our leading capabilities in public and private markets are strengthened by an investment footprint that spans 18 geographies. We complement these capabilities by providing access to a network of unaffiliated asset managers from around the world. We’re committed to investing responsibly across our businesses. We develop innovative global frameworks for sustainable investing, collaboratively engage with companies in our securities portfolios, and maintain a high standard of stewardship where we own and operate assets, and we believe in supporting financial well-being through our workplace retirement plans. Today, plan sponsors around the world rely on our retirement plan administration and investment expertise to help their employees plan for, save for, and live a better retirement.

As of September 30, 2021, Manulife Investment Management’s assets under management and administration, including assets managed for Manulife’s other segments, totaled CAD $1.1 trillion (US $835 billion). Not all offerings are available in all jurisdictions. For additional information, please visit

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation (TSX/NYSE/PSE: MFC, SEHK: 945) is a leading international financial services provider that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife across Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for our global wealth and asset management segment, we serve individuals, institutions and retirement plan members worldwide. Our principal operations are in Asia and Canada, and the United States, where we have served customers for more than 155 years. In the last 12 months we have made CAD$31.8 billion in payments to our customers. We trade as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong. For more information, visit

Not all offerings are available in all jurisdictions. All figures in CAD unless otherwise stated.

SOURCE: Manulife Financial Corporation

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