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Psychologist offers tips to protect mental health as Greater Victoria wrestles with labour shortage


It’s no secret, there’s an ongoing labour shortage in the country and that is putting stress on local business owners and staff who are trying to keep their businesses afloat.

Chris Jones is the owner of Jones Bar-B-Que in Langford, B.C. On Monday, he was back at work once again.

"I wasn’t supposed to be working today, I wasn’t supposed to be working yesterday," said Jones.

Already short on entry-level staff, two people called in sick and another quit by text message this week.

"We spend thousands on Indeed every month just trying to recruit people," said Jones.


It’s not just the restaurant owner picking up the slack.

"I ended-up doing a 6 a.m. to an 8 p.m. [shift]," said Tanja Lindquist, head chef at Jones Bar-B-Que.

"My Sous-Chef came in and did a close for me, so I wasn’t here until midnight," said Lindquist.

It’s taxing on everyone, and the hospitality industry isn't the only one facing a shortage in workers.

"There is a systemic labour issue in Canada," said Dr. Mark Colgate, a professor at the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria.

Colgate says because of Canada’s shifting demographics, the labour shortage isn’t expected to improve anytime soon.

"This was predicted way before the pandemic," said Colgate. "We have more people retiring than we have coming into the market, it’s as simple as that."

Colgate says that employees who are left to hold down the fort are going to have to work harder than before.

"It's just the reality of a recession," he said.


The increased workload, combined with a decline in work-life balance, is having a negative effect on people's mental health.

"The seriousness of it, I think, is getting more severe," said Dr. David Mensink, a registered psychologist with the College of Psychologists of British Columbia.

Mensink says work-related mental health issues aren't new, but the severity of those issues seems to have increased over the past few years.

He has some tips for employers to help create a healthy workplace during challenging times.

He suggests allowing staff to be involved in decisions being made about their job. That shows staff members that they are valued as employees.

Mensink says communicating possible career growth opportunities can also be a motivator for staff, especially if the extra effort results in a promotion or a bigger salary one day.

Simply saying thank you for a job well done can also go a long way, he says.

For employees, depression and anxiety often present themselves when work is becoming too much. If that’s the case, Mensink suggest speaking with your supervisor and attempting to make changes at the workplace with tangible ideas.

Workers are also encouraged to find experiences in their private lives that makes them happy, and to try to forget about work when they are not there.

Talk to a loved one or close friend about your situation. Often getting it off your chest will go a long way, says the psychologist.

"Those seem to be the ones that stand out, that go a long way for helping people function well at work," said Mensink.

If those don’t work, maybe it’s time to explore other employment options.

It’s estimated that we spend one-third of our lives at work. Mensink says it’s important to make sure the remaining two-thirds aren't negatively affected by your job. Top Stories

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