Nearly half of Quebeckers afraid of returning to their workplace

Nearly half of Quebeckers afraid to return to workplace

A new KPMG Workforce Safeguarding App helps companies reopen their physical workplace safely during the pandemic


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​More than two in five (44 per cent) Quebeckers are afraid to return to the workplace given how contagious the virus is, finds a new poll by KPMG in Canada. However, the level of concern falls below the national average of 54 per cent who are afraid. Not surprisingly, they are also among the country's most trusting of their employer to take and maintain all of the necessary health and safety precautions, 87 per cent compared to the national average of 82 per cent.

"Our poll findings clearly show that Quebeckers are placing a great deal of trust in their employers to manage their return to the workplace and in keeping them safe," says Yvon Audette, KPMG's chief operating officer, management consulting services. "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 Quebeckers (92 per cent) believe the pandemic is far from over, although just 71 per cent say they're worried about catching the virus or transmitting it to their loved ones. Only half say they will refuse to go into work if they don't feel safe enough in their workplace, compared to the national average of 59 per cent.

Key Poll Highlights

  • 92 per cent of Quebeckers believe COVID-19 is far from over, compared to 94 per cent nationally.
  • 71 per cent worry about getting COVID-19 or transmitting it to their loved ones, versus the national average of 83 per cent.44 per cent admit they're afraid of returning to the workplace given how contagious the COVID-19 virus is. That's below the national average of 54 per cent, and sharply lower than neighbouring Ontario at 64 per cent. Only Alberta residents are less concerned at 43 per cent.
  • 52 per cent 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.
    • In B.C. and Ontario, nearly 7 in 10 employees would feel much or somewhat better.
  • 50 per cent say they will refuse to return to their workplace if they don't feel safe enough – again, that's well below the national average of nearly three in five (59 per cent).
  • 87 per cent trust their employer to take and maintain all the necessary health and safety precautions, compared to 82 per cent nationally.
    Prefer in-person communications

The KPMG poll finds that like most Canadians, Quebeckers (77 per cent) are satisfied with their virtual work-from-home environment, and almost six in 10 (59 per cent) say they feel more productive.

Unlike the rest of the country, though, more Quebeckers are struggling to maintain strong connections with their co-workers in this new virtual work-from-home reality. Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) – versus 59 per cent nationally – say their relationship with their co-workers is weaker in their current working from home environment, and agreed that in-person communication over any other form is preferable (73 per cent) and key to successfully building and maintaining long-term business relationships (72 per cent).

Top concerns? Not the elevators

When returning to their physical workplace, 73 per cent of Quebeckers say their top concern is their colleagues might come to work sick or be asymptomatic, slightly below the 77 per cent national average.

Nearly six in 10 (56 per cent) were worried about sharing common spaces like meeting or lunch rooms, and 44 per cent were concerned about the air ventilation and circulation. Wearing a mask in their workplace and waiting for an elevator were the least of their concerns.

More than half (53 per cent) of Quebeckers would use a smartphone app provided by their employer if it would help them avoid busy and crowded office areas.

Reopen safely with KPMG's new mobile app

The more employers can do to keep their workers safe, the more likely they are to drive both loyalty and productivity.

The poll findings reveal that 78 per cent of Quebeckers would be more loyal to their employer or willing to give the extra effort when they know their company cares and is focused on keeping them safe.

To help organizations re-open safely and efficiently, KPMG recently launched a new mobile app, called the KPMG Workplace Safeguarding App. The app, which does not geo-track employees and is technology agnostic, helps employers to instantly connect with their workforce wherever they are, notifying them of urgent news, required actions, office open or closed status, and the level of health risk for that office.

"Quebeckers are looking for tools they can trust to keep them safe in these unprecedented times," says Dominic Jaar, KPMG partner and regional leader, management consulting. "Our new app helps make managing who returns to the workplace, when, and where much smoother. Because we designed it to be easy to use, employers will find that our app will help drive employee trust, engagement, and loyalty."

While the app can be customized, some of its key features include:

  • My Notification Centre – stay informed from any location on important news, updates, or required actions.
  • My Offices – provides employees with office open/closed status and health risk for that office.
  • My Request Centre – an intelligent travel request module that empowers employees to make informed decisions when scheduling a visit to their office location or visiting client sites locally and abroad.
  • My Personal Risk Assessment – stay up to date with public health and safety guidelines for your region and organization.
  • My Daily Check-in – a pulse-check of your teams with gamification elements to encourage participation.
  • My Wellness Resources – connect your workforce with resources to promote wellness.
  • My Dashboard – a comprehensive view of key performance indicators (KPIs) to provide management with real-time transparency on employee groups, facility readiness, and community risk levels.
  • Office Tracker – an easy-to-use menu for office managers to update the status of their local office and building, using configurable features such as personal protective equipment inventory and office cleanings.

KPMG used Methodify, an online research automation platform, to survey 1,010 Canadians between July 22 and 24.



KPMG LLP, an Audit, Tax and Advisory firm ( is a limited liability partnership, established under the laws of Ontario, and the Canadian member firm of KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"). KPMG has more than 7,000 professionals/employees in over 40 locations across Canada serving private- and public-sector clients. KPMG is consistently recognized as an employer of choice and one of the best places to work in the country.

The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity, and describes itself as such.

For more information or to request poll tables, please contact:

Caroline Van Hasselt
National Communications & Media Relations
KPMG in Canada
(416) 777-3288

© 2021 KPMG LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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