Poll shows employees plan to seek workplaces with mental health supports
Eight in 10 U.S. workers say that how employers support their employees' mental health will be an important consideration when they seek future job opportunities, while 71% believe their employer is more concerned about the mental health of employees now than in the past, according to a survey from the American Psychological Association.
APA's 2022 Work and Well-being Survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll among more than 2,000 working adults between April 22 and May 2, 2022.
When asked to select from a list of a dozen possible supports that they would like to see employers offer, flexible work hours were the most commonly chosen support (41% of workers), followed by a workplace culture that respects time off (34%), the ability to work remotely (33%) and a four-day work week (31%).
"These findings underscore the importance of mental health support in the workplace to workers across all industries," said Arthur C. Evans, Jr., Ph.D., APA's chief executive officer. "Some of the increased focus on workplace mental health support may have resulted from employers working to meet employees' needs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though these efforts have been helpful, it is important to recognize many workers continue to struggle and need additional supports. Therefore employers must maintain and, in some cases, expand their mental health service offerings."
Workers revealed significant sources of stress in the workplace, from compensation to harassment to discrimination. In fact, a majority of employees (71%) said they are worried that their compensation has not kept up with inflation. Further, nearly one-quarter (24%) reported that they do not feel they receive adequate compensation. The workers who do not feel they receive adequate compensation cited two main factors for feeling this way: Pay has not kept up with inflation (60%) and does not reflect all of the work they do (52%). Those who are worried that their compensation has not kept up with inflation were also significantly more likely to report negative impacts of work on their psychological well-being than their counterparts. Nearly two in five (39%) said their work environment has had a negative impact on their mental health compared with 21% of those who were not worried about compensation, and more than half of those who were worried about inflation's impact on their compensation (54%) typically felt tense or stressed compared with 34% of those who were not worried.
Nearly one in five (18%) of all employees described their workplace as somewhat or very toxic. Furthermore, harm in the form of harassment, verbal abuse or physical violence in the workplace—either by someone within their organization (such as a coworker or manager) or outside of it—has been experienced by three in 10 workers (30%) within the last year. More than one in five employees (22%) said someone within their organization or outside had abused them verbally in the workplace.
Many workers may not have experienced an abusive workplace, but said they feel scared while at work. Black and Latino workers were more likely to say that they are often scared at work (29% for Black adults and 31% for Latino adults). Younger adults were also more likely to say that they are often scared when compared with adults ages 44 or older. A total of 38% of 18- to 25-year-olds and 32% of 26- to 43-year-olds reported feeling frightened at work compared with 17% of 44- to 57-year-olds, 10% of 58- to 64-year-olds, and 6% of workers age 65 and older.
While 13% of all workers said they have been the target of discrimination (such as unequal treatment based on some aspect of identity such as race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability status, age) in their workplace, this number was higher for employees from marginalized populations. More than one-quarter of workers with a disability (27%) said they have been the target of discrimination in their workplace, while fewer than one in 10 workers without a disability (8%) said the same. Discrimination was experienced by more LGBTQ+ workers than non-LGBTQ+ workers (22% vs. 12%), and Black workers were nearly twice as likely as white workers to report that they have experienced discrimination on the job (21% vs. 11%).
"It's the responsibility of the employer to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees while at work", said Evans. "There is always more that can be done."
The research was conducted online in the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association among 2,016 adults aged 18+ who reside in the U.S. and are employed full-time, part-time, or self-employed. The survey was conducted April 22—May 2, 2022. Data are weighted where necessary by age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, marital status, household size, work status, household income, and propensity to be online to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within plus or minus 3.3 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. This credible interval will be wider among subsets of the surveyed population of interest.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to other multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including, but not limited to coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.