Workers of all generations are putting happiness above career aspirations

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Mental health is a top priority for workers these days. The Good Brigade/Getty Images

Workers, especially young workers, are feeling it stressed and anxious at unprecedented levels—even though the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have subsided.

But then again, it’s probably no surprise that the troubled economy, the war in Ukraine, and ongoing climate crisisand waves of layoffs. These pressures have forced many workers to get serious about their mental health. So much so, employees say it’s now their top priority.

Half (50%) of global knowledge workers are putting mental health above all else, according to The Employee Disillusionment Report was released on Thursday that’s based on a survey of more than 2,500 knowledge workers worldwide. It was a top priority for workers of all races and generations, but black workers and younger Gen Z workers in particular are more likely to be mandated to practice good mental health.

See Employee Mental Health as a Top Priority chart

According to the report, even in a changing labor market, mental health is far more important to workers than career advancement right now. It demonstrates how employees think about their long-term career path and are resetting the boundaries of work/life balance.

“In recent years, an avalanche of global issues has affected everyone on the planet,” said Tony Jamous, Oyster’s founder and CEO. luck. “It’s no wonder we’re all feeling scared, disconnected,” she says, adding that this gets worse when employees go to work and face managers and leaders who want to make work even more stressful.

“Mental health is a prerequisite for career advancement,” says Jamous. “It’s necessary because you want to be in positive mental health to be able to progress in your career.” You can’t progress in your career when your mental health is compromised, he added.

Stress, anxiety and burnout are causing a crisis in employee engagement, Oyster’s report says. More than half of the workers surveyed (54%) report that their work and ability to focus on work is affected by a cluttered environment.

Employers don’t do themselves or their employees any favors when they ignore options like flexible working, or when they instill a culture of denial when there are problems that aren’t being addressed, says Jamous. “You end up with a level of disengagement and certainly career advancement doesn’t become a priority and mental health becomes a high priority.”

It is not just a few organizations that face this dilemma; it’s a systemic problem, says Jamous. “The system we have designed is a system that seeks unlimited growth. It seeks to maximize profits at the expense of people’s well-being,” he says. It’s particularly acute for younger workers, Jamous says.

But the current environment creates opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs. More than two-thirds of workers say employers should provide mental health support for stress and anxiety, Calm’s 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends Report.

Adding mental health resources to the benefit burner is key, but meaningful change goes beyond mere perks, Jamous says. Flexible work arrangements and building trust in your employees are key to combating employee disengagement and potential burnout, he says.

While it may be easier to make workplace culture changes in smaller organizations—Jamous acknowledges that it can be difficult for larger companies to pivot and scale new policies quickly—it can be achieved.

“Building trusting teams, having clear goals and expectations, and clear methods of collaboration aren’t just for small businesses—the bigger you are, the more benefits you can reap,” says Jamous.

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