American employees’ uncertainty about return-to-workplace plans contributing to declining mental health

LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ shows strong correlation between vaccination status and mental outlook

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CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–LifeWorks, a leading provider of technology-enabled total wellbeing solutions, today released its monthly Mental Health Index™ report, revealing a negative mental-health score among Americans for the 15th consecutive month. The Mental Health Index™ score in June reached -4.5 compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark, which is the highest point since the inception of the index in April 2020 when the mental-health score was -8.0.

In June, the research found that while many organizations have begun implementing return-to-workplace strategies, a significant portion of Americans require clearer communication on office reopening plans. One in five (20 percent) Americans are unclear of their employer’s plan for work going forward, while another eight percent do not believe that their employer has a plan. These groups also reported the lowest mental-health scores (-12.5 and -11.5, respectively) when compared to employees stating their employer’s plan is clear. When reviewing employees’ expectations about the return to the workplace:

  • Almost half (48 percent) expect that their employer will want all employees working in their pre-pandemic environment;
  • Thirteen percent believe that their employer will allow remote work to continue;
  • Eleven percent expect to work onsite at their office at least part of the time; and
  • Only four percent expect to have the flexibility to choose their work location.

“American employees have faced several workplace transitions throughout the pandemic, with many now settled in their flexible and hybrid environments. With economic recovery on the horizon, however, the anticipation of the return to the physical office may leave many Americans feeling unsettled,” said Stephen Liptrap, president and chief executive officer. “Prioritizing employee wellbeing across hybrid, physical and remote environments is critical to long-term success. As we look to the next phase in workplace reopening initiatives, organizations need to equip employees with knowledge and accessibility to resources to help them cope with change.”

Vaccination status impacting Americans’ mental wellbeing

In April 2021, half (50 percent) of Americans reported that vaccination against COVID-19 or reaching herd immunity would most improve their outlook for the future. In June 2021, the research found that those who report being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have the most favorable mental-health score (-2.7). The least favorable score (-16.5) is seen among those who are partially vaccinated. This group also showed the worst isolation score (-27.0), followed by those who are not vaccinated but intend to be (-11.5).

“We have reached a long-awaited milestone in the pandemic, with the vaccination rate of Americans continuously increasing while case counts decline. This is improving mental health and overall wellbeing in the short-term, however, we cannot forget the long-term implications of the unique challenges that the population has faced throughout the last year,” said Paula Allen, global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing. “There is still a long way to go before we return to pre-pandemic mental wellbeing. Americans need support, both personally and professionally, and the onus is on the collective population to put mental health at the forefront of every conversation and initiative.”

The full American Mental Health Index™ report can be found here. This month, the report includes additional insights on the mental strain faced by post-secondary students, how children have been impacted by the pandemic, and more.

About the Mental Health Index

The monthly survey by LifeWorks was conducted through an online survey from May 28 to June 4, 2021, 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 global leader in delivering technology-enabled solutions that help clients support the total wellbeing of their people and build organizational resiliency. By improving lives, we improve business. Our solutions span employee and family assistance, health and wellness, recognition, pension and benefits administration, retirement and financial consulting, actuarial and investment services. LifeWorks employs more than 7,000 employees who work with more than 24,000 client organizations that use our services in more than 160 countries. For more information, visit



Heather MacDonald


Angela Pinzon

Kaiser & Partners

The Case for Office Space: Personal Health/Climate Crisis Top Priorities for Employees Returning to Work, Says New Report

74% of Employees Would Consider Leaving Their Job if Office Health and Sustainability Expectations Go Unmet: NEXT Energy Technologies Report

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Returning to the office is causing a growing rift between workers and managers according to a new report from NEXT Energy Technologies, Inc., released today. The report shows most employees (74%) are willing to leave their jobs if existential issues like health and sustainability are not adequately addressed in the workplace.


NEXT surveyed more than 450 remote employees and more than 150 senior managers and C-suite decision-makers across business verticals to better understand employees’ priorities in considering a return to in-person office spaces. The report, The Case for Office Space: How Buildings Need to Change to Suit a Climate-Conscious, COVID-Weary Workforce, found that in a quickly rebounding economy, a changed and newly empowered workforce has clear conditions about health and sustainability for their offices.

Productivity Is Steady, but Companies and Employees Split on Returning to the Office

While both employers and employees agree WFH has not diminished overall productivity, they are starkly split on what to do next: one-third (32%) of companies represented in the report are requiring employees to return to the office full-time now that the COVID threat is subsiding.

“We’re seeing a standoff between companies that, for a variety of legitimate reasons, want their staff to return to in-person offices and a high-demand workforce that is holding more decision-making power than ever before,” said Daniel Emmett, founder and CEO of NEXT.

Employees Want Control Over Their Health Through Office Space Influence

When asked to recall their old in-person work schedules, 57% of employees said working in the office negatively impacted their health. Employees cited a number of factors they believed took a toll on their health, primarily their mental health, a lack of sunlight and inadequate space between employee workstations.

Employees Prioritize Climate and Sustainability

With a heightened appreciation and outlook of their personal health, many workers are focusing on how external factors, those beyond their control, impact their physical well-being. A large majority (83%) believe that the environment, and the imminent climate crisis, play a direct role in their health. The report shows employees are looking for an office-environment overhaul; they want to have influence over the company’s health and wellness measures moving forward.

“We all went through a lot in the past year, and not just because of the COVID pandemic. Wildfires, extreme heat, droughts, floods and other unpredictable climate events are all taking a toll on people’s well-being,” continued Emmett.

Companies, however, are not entirely on board with this change. Close to half (42%) of decision-makers said their employees do not currently have influence over their company’s health and wellness measures while 82% of employees believe they should.

“Most rational people, including business decision-makers, understand that the climate crisis is directly linked with their individual health. Employees being asked to return to work are not willing to compromise their beliefs,” concluded Emmett.

Most Companies Not Doing Enough

With the link from health to the climate crisis directly drawn, sustainability measures naturally fall into employees’ expectations for healthy offices. Employees expect their companies to take the climate crisis seriously in conjunction with the ongoing pandemic, and they want their business leaders to make changes to the office that reflect this.

The two important factors employees want to be addressed in their workspaces are renewable energy (66%) and reduced reliance on single-use materials (51%). More than half (53%) of decision-makers said they’d be willing to implement more energy-saving and generating features in the office to meet employees’ needs.

Eighty-five percent (85%) of decision-makers believe that overall, their company is meeting some or all of its employees’ expectations for a healthy office environment — employees surveyed in the report did not share that sentiment.

To read more about employees’ and companies’ attitudes around the return to the office, download the full report here.

About NEXT Energy Technologies, Inc.

NEXT Energy Technologies is a Santa Barbara, California company developing transparent energy harvesting window technology that allows architects and building owners to transform windows and glass facades into producers of low-cost, on-site, renewable energy for buildings. NEXT’s technology is enabled by proprietary organic semiconducting materials that are earth-abundant, low-cost, and are coated as an ink in a high-speed, low-cost, and low energy process. For more information, visit


Eric Becker

104 West Partners for NEXT Energy Technologies