Over half of Canadian public servants experienced burnout in last year, GGF research reveals

By on 27/09/2023 | Updated on 09/10/2023
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich via Pexels

A majority of public servants in Canada have experienced symptoms of burnout in the last year, according to research from Global Government Forum.

The exclusive survey also found that less than half of public servants believe their managers have a good understanding of mental health and wellbeing.

The survey was designed and carried out by Global Government Forum to measure the work-life balance of public servants across Canada, and received 1,320 responses between 5 June to 22 June 2023.

Overall, 58% of public servants rate their work-life balance as good or excellent, but a similar proportion – 57% – say they have experienced symptoms of burnout in the last 12 months.

Read in full: Wellbeing in the Workplace Canada Public Service Survey 2023

This rises to nearly two-thirds (65%) of leaders and managers across the public service, and more women (59%) than men (53%) say they have experienced burnout.

The survey found that managers have noticed the impact of burnout on their staff. Among respondents who manage staff, 72% say that colleagues or team members have experienced symptoms of burnout.

Those who manage staff are also more likely to say their own mental health and wellbeing has been affected by their workload in the last two years. Seven out of ten (70%) managers say this is the case, as do 42% of those who are not managers.

Public service managers ‘don’t understand staff stress’

The survey also found concerns that managers do not understand the pressures staff face. Less than half of all public servants think managers have a strong understanding of staff mental health and wellbeing and less than one-third of respondents (29%) say that their organisation has a specific strategy in place for managing employee health and wellbeing.

Respondents were also asked to name their top priorities for a better work-life balance. Flexibility in the days you are allowed to work from home was most popular. When asked to name the top options, two-thirds (67%) chose this as a priority, with over half also selecting a greater focus on productivity rather than hours worked and increased paid leave.

Over half of non-managers (51%) named increased pay as one of their top four priorities, while only one third of managers did so.

The survey was designed and carried out by Global Government Forum – the publishing house for civil and public servants around the world. More information on the survey can be found in this summary. If you would like to explore ways that you can become a research knowledge partner, please contact our Commercial Director, George O’Grady: george.o’[email protected]

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About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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