Britons say flexible work is more important than career progression

February 24, 2022 3:00 AM EST

More than half (58 per cent) of British employees prioritise flexible work over career progression, finds LifeWorks Mental Health Index™

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- LifeWorks, a leading provider of digital and in-person total wellbeing solutions, today released its monthly Mental Health Index™ showing the largest improvement in the mental health score of Britons since the launch of the Index in April 202. The current score is -9.6, nearly 10 points below the pre-pandemic benchmark.

The increase of almost two points came after three months of declining mental health for residents of the United Kingdom. All mental health sub-scores improved from December 2021 to January 2022. In addition, the general psychological score, which assesses an individuals’ self-perception of their overall psychological health, reached its highest point since April 2020.

Britons prioritise flexible work over career progression

  • Nearly three in five (58 per cent) Britons report that flexible work is more important than career progression.
  • Thirty-one per cent of Britons report that flexibility is the most important action taken by their employer to support their mental health. This group has a mental health score (-7.0) more than two points higher than the national average (-9.6).
  • Nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) indicate that feeling more valued is the most important action taken by their employer.
  • Twenty-two per cent say that empathy is most important to supporting mental health.

Comments from managing director, United Kingdom and Europe, Philip Mullen
“There has been an air of optimism in the United Kingdom in recent weeks due to the downward trend in COVID-19 cases and the government’s easing restrictions. While that has no doubt led to improved mental health scores, it is important for employers to pay close attention to their employees’ needs and shifting priorities. Our research this month has revealed that career progression – which could include compensation, promotions and professional development – is not nearly as important as having the flexibility to choose when, where and how employees work.”

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

  • Recognition or appreciation is the top response when workers were asked what was most important in supporting a sense of belonging at work.
  • Co-worker relationships was 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 scores for mental health, work productivity, isolation and financial risk 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 correlation between the levels of belonging and productivity. Britons state the most important thing to them is either workplace recognition and appreciation, or relationships with co-workers or colleagues, as key to a sense of belonging at work. The sense of belonging has been strained over the past two years and needs to be rebuilt. Additionally, we have seen an increase in conflict when people are dealing with the general public as part of their work. This is another stressor that makes support and training from employers, and feelings of appreciation, that much more important.”

The full LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ report for the United Kingdom 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 2,000 respondents from the United Kingdom. All respondents reside in the United Kingdom 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
[email protected]

Source: LifeWorks

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