Fewer Americans Report a Sense of Belonging at Work When Compared to Pre-Pandemic

LifeWorks Mental Health Index indicates that close to half of Americans are working while feeling unwell

LifeWorks, a leading provider of digital total wellbeing solutions, released its monthly Mental Health Index, revealing a negative mental-health score among Americans for the 17th consecutive month.

Key findings:

  • Overall mental-health score of -3.0 compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark, reaching its highest point since the launch of the index in April 2020.
  • In the latest survey, 80 percent of respondents indicated that prior to the pandemic, they felt a sense of belonging and acceptance at work, but only 74 percent felt the same during the past month.
  • Meanwhile, 20 percent of respondents indicated that before the pandemic, they were unsure or did not feel a sense of belonging, compared to 26 percent feeling the same during the past month.
  • This trend is seen across all age groups, however, the proportion of employees who report feeling a sense of belonging and acceptance at work increases with older age groups.

Pandemic-driven work-from-home model contributes to worsening isolation among American employees:

  • The majority of employees (65 percent) who are working at a jobsite feel a greater sense of belonging and acceptance at work than those who work from home or in a hybrid workplace.
  • Isolation scores among those working exclusively from home are worse (-2.5) than those working in a hybrid model (-1.6) or from the jobsite (+0.4).
  • The 74 percent of respondents who felt a sense of belonging and acceptance at work during the past month, had the highest mental health score (+1.6) and the best isolation score (+0.5) compared to those who were unsure or did not feel the same way.

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Comments from president and chief executive officer, Stephen Liptrap

“As we look to the next phase of the workplace setting, isolation will remain an issue for many. While many employees will be granted with the ability to work from their preferred location, those working in virtual or hybrid environments may feel excluded as onsite corporate cultures evolve or fear missing out on opportunities. Employers must continue to foster inclusivity and show all employees that they are valued to create a strong culture and boost company morale.”

Two in five American employees report working while unwell on weekly basis, contributing to productivity loss:

  • Forty-two percent of respondents report doing their job when feeling unwell (physically or physiologically) at least one day per week. The mental-health scores among this group are significantly below those who report never working while feeling unwell.
  • The majority (58 percent) of respondents indicate that they never work while feeling unwell. This group has the most favorable mental health score, at more than seven points above the pre-2020 benchmark (+7.2).
  • Sixty percent of parents report working when feeling unwell at least one day per week, compared to 36 percent of non-parents.
  • Additionally, respondents who have a mental-health score of -40 or lower, are estimated to have a productivity loss of 22 percent, compared to those with a mental-health score of +10 or more with a productivity loss of 10 percent.

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Comments from global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing, Paula Allen

“We have been going through a long period of strain and we are entering a new phase where some of the same uncertainties that created the initial strain are continuing and appearing in new ways. We know that a workplace culture of wellbeing and support for mental health can mitigate this. Our research is showing us that many, including parents, are struggling. Employer support is an important factor in their health and productivity, and will benefit them and the organization.”

The full American LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ report can be found here. This month, the report includes additional insights on the impact of remote work on mental strain, reasons for missed time from work due to illness, employees’ ideal work situations and more.

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