Just over half (55 per cent) of Canadians said flexible or hybrid work arrangements are more important to them than career progression (24 per cent), while 21 per cent said neither were of value, according to LifeWorks Inc.’s latest mental-health index.

The survey, which polled 3,000 working Canadians, found the overall mental-health score for January 2022 declined 1.1 points from December 2021’s score to negative 11.3 points. While all mental-health sub-scores have declined since December 2021, the best sub-score — and the only measure above the historical benchmark — continues to be financial risk (3.7). The lowest mental-health sub-score was for the risk measure of depression (negative 12.9), followed by optimism (negative 12.3), anxiety (negative 12.2), work productivity (negative 12.0), isolation (negative 11.6) and general psychological health (negative 4.5).

Read: A third of employees believe full flexibility is best working model: survey

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, employers across the country are taking several measures to support their employees’ mental health. A third (33 per cent) of respondents said flexibility is the most important action taken by their employer in supporting their mental health. This group had a mental-health score (negative 8.2) three points higher than the national average (negative 11.3). The lowest mental-health score (negative 15.3) was observed in the 10 per cent of respondents who reported dealing with conflict in the workplace.

“The pandemic has created a lot of change in our lives, which has resulted in Canadians shifting their priorities,” said Stephen Liptrap, president and chief executive officer of LifeWorks, in a press release. “Many employees are now placing more importance on workplace flexibility — when, where and how they work — rather than career progression, which often includes compensation, promotions and professional development. As more organizations return to the office, it is important for employers to find new ways of supporting employees in this new environment.”

Read: Employers continue to highlight mental-health supports, prioritize staff well-being

Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said enjoying the work they do is the reason they stay with their employer, while 34 per cent cited health and wellness benefits and services and another 33 per cent reported being well-paid. About a fifth (21 per cent) reported they feel valued at work and this group has the most favourable mental-health score (negative 4.7). Notably, five per cent said they’re planning to leave their employer and this group has a mental-health score (-25.2) well below the national average.

When asked what they needed from employers to feel a sense of belonging at work, respondents cited recognition or appreciation (16 per cent), relationships with co-workers or colleagues (14 per cent) and salary/money (five per cent).

Read: How can employers turn the ‘Great Resignation’ tide?