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Canadians are afraid to return to workplace, yet trust employers to keep them safe: KPMG

82% trust their employer to take and maintain all the necessary health and safety precautions

August 6, 2020   by PLANT STAFF

PHOTO: KPMG

TORONTO — More than half (54%) of Canadians are afraid to return to the workplace given just how contagious the COVID-19 virus is, and six in 10 will refuse to go back if they feel it’s not safe enough, finds a new poll by KPMG in Canada.

However, 82% trust their employer to take and maintain all the necessary health and safety precautions.

“Our poll findings clearly show that Canadians are placing a great deal of trust in their employers to manage their return to the workplace and in keeping them safe,” said Doron Melnick, partner and acting lead of KPMG’s people and change advisory services practice, in a statement. “The pandemic is forcing every employer in the country to adopt comprehensive protocols and safety measures, and to look at new ways of staying connected to their employees.”

Virtually all Canadians (94%) believe the pandemic is far from over, and 83% say they’re worried about catching the virus or transmitting it to their loved ones.

As long as the number of COVID cases remain relatively low, as many as 72% of Canadians would be okay going back to their physical workplace, but these same respondents believe there will be a second wave of infections in the fall or winter that will shut down workplaces all over again.

Other poll highlights:

  • Three in five (59%) women say they’re fearful of returning to work, compared to 49% of men.
  • British Columbians and Ontarians are the most fearful of returning, at 60% and 64%, respectively.
  • 64% would feel much or somewhat better about heading back into their physical workplace if their employer kept them updated in real-time about the level of health risk at their office and provided resources to foster their health and well-being.

Prefer in-person communications

The KPMG poll findings show that most Canadians (76%) are satisfied with their work-from-home environment, and almost six in 10 (59%) say they feel more productive.

However, they do feel their relationships with co-workers are suffering. An equal number (59%) say their relationship with their co-workers is weaker in their current work-from-home environment. Seven in 10 (71%) prefer in-person communication over any other form, including email, and 76% say face-to-face in-person meetings are key to successfully building and maintaining long-term business relationships.

Top concern? Not the elevators

When returning to their physical workplace, more than three-quarters (77%) of Canadians said their top concern was that their colleagues might come to work sick or be asymptomatic.

Nearly six in 10 (57%) were worried about sharing common spaces like meetings or lunch rooms, and 40% were concerned about the air ventilation and circulation. They were least concerned about having to wear a mask in their workplace and waiting for an elevator.


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