The State of Employee Disillusionment: Rising Costs of Living Critically Impact Global Knowledge Workers’ Ability to Focus

New Oyster Report Reveals Black Employees Disproportionately Affected by Costs, Health Concerns, Economic Downturn

Uncovers Half of Workers Now Prioritize Mental Health Above All Else

Remote-First Company/SAN FRANCISCO--()--Oyster®, the employment platform to hire, pay, and care for global teams, today released its Employee Disillusionment Report. The survey of 2,500+ knowledge workers from around the world uncovers shifting priorities amid numerous external stressors that have contributed to a general sense of disillusionment among employees today—and how companies can relieve some of the pressures employees are facing.

People have dealt with a lot in the last year: a turbulent economy, civil unrest, surging costs of living, worsening climate crises, war in Europe, mass layoffs—not to mention the ongoing pandemic and challenges in employees’ own personal lives. While work-life balance and remote work continue to be important to employees, the report found that half of global knowledge workers (50%) are now prioritizing their mental health above all else, a figure that rises to 58% for Black workers and 52% for Gen Z, respectively.

"The role that work plays in all of our lives has shifted dramatically over the last three years, and people are demanding more from their employers. But with any change comes opportunity,” said Tony Jamous, Oyster co-founder and CEO. “Opportunity for employees to bring their whole selves to work; to be human, vulnerable, and fight for diversity. Opportunity for companies to step up and foster more employee-centric workplaces and become more successful by attracting and engaging the best talent."

Highlights from Oyster’s Employee Disillusionment Report findings include:

Mental Health Matters Most

While employees care about their careers, advancement is far from their top priority.

  • Half of global employees say their number one priority in life is their mental well-being—32 percentage points more than the next highest priority:
    • Relationships with friends (18%)
    • Physical well-being (16%)
    • Religious beliefs/spirituality (<7%)
    • Career advancement (<5%)
    • Hobbies/activities (<5%)
  • The majority of Black workers (58%) prioritize their mental well-being as their top concern, more than any other racial group.
  • More than half of Gen Z respondents (52%) chose mental health as their top priority, compared to 45% of Gen Xers.

An Employee Engagement Crisis

Concerningly, over half of global knowledge workers (54%) say their work and ability to focus at work have been affected due to recent world events.

  • Across all genders and geographies, the rising cost of living (75%) and personal worries or concerns (74%) are the top stressors impacting employees’ ability to focus on work, followed by:
    • Global health concerns (61%)
    • Economic downturn (55%)
    • War and conflict (35%)
    • Political instability (34%)
    • Climate change (23%)
  • Black knowledge workers’ ability to focus on work is disproportionately affected by these external factors, more than any other racial group. Most critically:
    • 60% of Black employees report struggling with the rising costs of living, compared to their Hispanic (46%), Asian (39%), and white (30%) colleagues.
    • Global health concerns impact 42% of Black workers, compared to 15% of white workers.
  • Younger generations are almost twice as affected by rising living costs and personal concerns than their Gen X colleagues.

Taking Care of Employees

While 42% of global employees feel their company does a good job taking care of them, about a quarter of respondents either have no resources in place or don’t know of anyone in their company who’s responsible for keeping them feeling happy and well in their workplace.

  • The most valued aspects of workplace culture were regular pay raises, psychological safety, and flexible work, which were considered important by 86%, 84%, and 83% of respondents, respectively.
    • 55% of Black workers see a safe, inclusive culture as very important, compared to 42% of white workers.
      • Black employees are also more in favor of manager check-ins (40%) and regular raises (63%) than their white colleagues (23% and 48%, respectively).
    • By far, women place more value than men on:
      • Psychological safety (53% v. 34%);
      • Check-ins with their manager (32% v. 18%);
      • Recognition at work (40% v. 25%);
      • Workplace friendships (36% v. 24%).
  • Three-quarters of respondents (75%) view paid time off as the benefit that most affects their well-being at work. Competitive healthcare ranked second at 32%.
    • Americans place equal value on access to mental health support as they do on physical healthcare (53%).
    • Black employees value access to mental health support more than their white colleagues (63% v. 22%).
  • 49% of global knowledge workers say a four-day workweek would make the biggest difference to their happiness at work, outranking:
    • The ability to work from anywhere (34%)
    • Unlimited paid time off (11%)
    • Reimbursed therapy (5%)
    • Company off-sites or retreats (1%).

Click here to see Oyster’s entire Employee Disillusionment Report, including tips to help companies combat engagement issues.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform that empowers companies to hire, pay, and care for their global teams. It enables growing companies to give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches or expense. Oyster enables people-centric hiring anywhere in the world with reliable, compliant contracts, payroll, and great local benefits and perks. Founded in January 2020 by Tony Jamous and Jack Mardack, Oyster is itself a fully distributed company with a diverse, global team. For more information visit


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The State of Employee Disillusionment: Rising Costs of Living Critically Impact Global Knowledge Workers’ Ability to Focus

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