Some 43% of American employees say they’re experiencing a better level of overall happiness since the COVID-19 pandemic started two years ago. And 43% said their work and lives are more balanced than they were before the pandemic.

The numbers were included in a survey of 1,050 full-time adult employees in the U.S., conducted by Qualtrics. The study, fielded between February 18 and 22 this year, also found that 40% of workers are happier with their family life, compared to the 19% who said theirs was worse off.

Well more than a third of workers, 39%, are more satisfied with their jobs now than they were before the pandemic, although 20% disagree. Employees also reported better career progress (36%) and finances (38%), compared to those who felt the opposite – 17% and 27% respectively. The one area where employees were evenly split was mental health, of which 31% said they were better off while 31% see themselves as worse off.

“It’s clear that the past two years have brought lasting change to work-life for American employees,” said Benjamin Granger, Qualtrics’ head of employee experience advisory. “It’s critical that leaders don’t forget how flexibility and new ways of working have made life better for employees.”

How Work Life Has Changed

Employers and employees have spent the last two years navigating constantly changing safety policies and new work arrangements. The study found 93% of employees said the pandemic has forever changed the way they work, and that the most favorable changes were flexible schedules and remote and hybrid work models.

In addition, 69% of employees agreed they’ve worked more productively during the pandemic. That said, workplace relationships and interactions appeared to be missing a piece: While 48% of employees said they’ve grown closer to coworkers, 31% said they’ve grown more distant.

As employee needs and priorities shifted during the pandemic, nearly half of the employees (47%) have changed jobs, including 15% who jumped to new industries. The top reasons employees gave for seeking new positions were: wanting a more flexible schedule (16%), seeking more growth opportunities (14%) and a desire to work remotely (11.5%). All of these reasons beat out higher pay, which was cited by 10.5%.

Despite the tragedy many have suffered over the pandemic’s course, remote and flexible work options have brought benefits to families, the study found. Sixty-eight percent of employees said they’ve grown closer to family members, and 89% of remote workers with children said their kids are happier when they work from home.

Even pets saw life improve. Nearly all (95%) of remote workers who have pets agreed their furry companions are happier when they work from home.

By Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer is executive editor of RecruitingDaily and the HCM Technology Report. He’s written for TechTarget, HR Magazine, SHRM, Dice Insights, and TalentCulture, as well as Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Staffing Industry Analysts. He likes schnauzers, sailing and Kentucky-distilled beverages.


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