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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia
Published: 14 April 2023

Black workers prioritize their mental well-being more than any other racial group, according to a survey by the employment platform Oyster.

The platform surveyed more than 2,500 desk-based – or so-called knowledge employees — and found that more than 58 % of Black workers globally chose their mental well-being as their top priority.

Asian respondents came in second at 37.7 %.

“Bearing the brunt of systemic racism, prejudice, and societal injustice, perhaps Black knowledge workers must put more energy into protecting their mental health and can less afford to spend it elsewhere,” the report stated.

Spiraling living costs

Study authors found the ability of Black knowledge workers to focus has suffered because of external factors like the rising cost of living and health concerns, particularly in America, Western Europe, and Canada.

For instance, 60.1 % of Black workers struggle with the cost of living, the survey found.

About 9.5% of respondents were Black knowledge workers, and the authors called it disheartening to see that they’re disproportionately affected by the ever-rising costs of living.

“In fact, Black workers are more affected by pretty much every category than other racial groups, notably by global health concerns – 41.6% of Black workers (compared to 14.8% of white workers) were very concerned about this, compared office in many cases, against their will,” the authors wrote.

But nothing came close to spiraling living costs and personal concerns when factoring in the top external stressors, which the authors said was true across genders and geographies.

Priority breakdowns

White workers reported being least affected in nearly every category – an example of privilege in practice, the authors concluded.

“What privilege does do is protect certain populations from being as negatively affected when taken as a group,” the authors noted.

They said the racial wage disparity present at many companies (and in society in general) means it’s logical that Black workers are more affected by rising costs of living.

Systemic racism in healthcare and legislative environments means it’s logical that Black workers are more affected by health concerns and political instability.

Additional findings of the report:

  • 55% of Black workers see a safe, inclusive work environment as very important, almost 14 percentage points higher than their white colleagues.
  • 63 % of Black employees indicated that regular raises affect their well-being at work, compared to 48.3% of white workers.
  • Black employees value access to mental health support (64%) more than their white colleagues (22%).

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.

“Our data broken down by race was also very revealing. Black employees valued a safe working environment almost 14 percentage points more than their white colleagues and were 20 percentage points more in favor of check-ins with their manager,” the study revealed.

“These employees also placed far more emphasis on regular raises (63.0% compared to 48.3% of white workers), which tracks given that our data also found Black workers were the most concerned with rising costs of living.”

The authors concluded

“What we’re seeing is a greater need to support, include, and create equitable work environments so all employees can thrive. At the very least, managers should be aware that Black employees on their team may appreciate more face time and encouragement and be ready to provide this support as needed.”

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