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Americans say flexible work is more important than career progression

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Americans say flexible work is more important than career progression

More than half (53 percent) of American employees prioritize flexible work over career progression, finds LifeWorks Mental Health Index™

LifeWorks, a leading provider of digital and in-person total wellbeing solutions, today released its monthly Mental Health Index™, showing that the mental health of Americans dropped for the second consecutive month to the lowest score in seven months, apart from October 2021. The overall mental health score for January 2022 was -4.9 compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark, and of all sub-scores for mental health, optimism suffered the most significant decline.

Americans prioritize flexible work over career progression

  • More than half (53 percent) of working Americans say that flexible work is the most important to them, compared to one-quarter (25 percent) indicating that career progression is the most important.
  • When asked about mental health support provided by employers, 36 percent of respondents say that flexibility is the most important action their employer has taken to support mental health. This group has a mental health score (-1.9) three points higher than the national average (-4.9).
  • Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) say that feeling more valued is the most important.
  • Fifteen percent say that empathy is the most important to supporting mental health.

Comments from president and chief executive officer, Stephen Liptrap
“It’s clear that the optimism of Americans has suffered since December. When the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was first detected, hope for an end to the pandemic was likely dashed as more cases of the variant were reported and organizations were required to adapt yet again. In this ever-changing situation, our research for January highlighted the importance of workplace flexibility – when, where and how employees work – more so than career progression, which may include compensation, promotions and professional development. As we near the end of year two of the pandemic, employers will need to continue finding new ways of supporting employees’ needs and ensuring they feel valued.”

In January 2022, the mental health score of Americans continued its decline from December 2021 in all regions except the South, with the Western United States reporting the lowest score (-5.5) and the Northeast continuing to report the highest score (-4.3).

Recognition, peer relationships and salary are the top drivers of belonging at work

  • Recognition or appreciation is the top response when employees were asked what was most important in supporting a sense of belonging at work.
  • Co-worker relationships are the second most common response.
  • Employees who report that workplace relationships are the most important aspect of feeling a sense of belonging at work have higher mental health, work productivity, isolation and financial risk scores than national averages.

Comments from global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing, Paula Allen
“Our research has shown there is a high corelation between the levels of belonging and productivity, and Americans most commonly reported workplace recognition or appreciation is the most important factor in feeling a sense of belonging. We know that a sense of belonging is not only critical to wellbeing and productivity, but that it reduces the risk of turnover. An increasing number of companies are recognizing the link between high performance and a work culture where mental health and wellbeing is supported. Actions that foster a sense of belonging are a part of this.”

The full American LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ report can be found here.

About the Mental Health Index
The monthly survey by LifeWorks was conducted through an online survey from January 13 and 26, 2022, with 5,000 respondents in the United States. All respondents reside in the United States and were employed within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflect this population. The Mental Health Index™ is published monthly, beginning April 2020, and compares against benchmark data collected in 2017, 2018, 2019.

About LifeWorks
LifeWorks is a world leader in providing digital and in-person solutions that support the total wellbeing of individuals. We deliver a personalized continuum of care that helps our clients improve the lives of their people and by doing so, improve their business.


Heather MacDonald

Jennifer Farr
Kaiser & Partners

Source: LifeWorks