A higher percentage of American workers feel more engaged, yet more stress at work — and working schedules that are primarily remote or hybrid may be a factor, according to a study published by global analytics and polling firm Gallup.

Gallup said there was a 23% increase in employment engagement last year after protocols from the COVID-19 pandemic, like social distancing and remote work, were lifted.

CNBC described employment engagement as “when people feel proud of the work they do, take ownership and are willing to ‘go the extra mile’ for colleagues and customers.”

Though employment engagement is the highest it’s been in years, stress levels have also increased.

Gallup found that young workers who worked mostly remote or hybrid office schedules felt the most engaged and most stressed, compared to other workers in the study.

Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist of workplace and wellbeing, told CNBC, “Americans are likely to find personal value, identity and fulfillment in their work, which motivates them to be highly engaged.”

Harter added, “When their expectation of work doesn’t match up with their reality, or work negatively impacts their personal, social or financial circumstances, it leads to higher stress.”

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Remote and hybrid work

Axios noted that after the pandemic, businesses adjusted to prioritize flexibility, since workers were looking for jobs that offered remote, hybrid and in-person office work availability.

“That has pushed companies to tread lightly in returning to offices, often letting go of under-utilized spaces or redesigning them for a hybrid work model,” Axios said.

CNN said about 13% of U.S. job postings on LinkedIn are for hybrid jobs, an increase of 6.6% since April 2022.

“According to swipe data from Kastle Systems, this week’s average office occupancy still sits at about 48% of pre-pandemic levels,” per CNN.

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Stress levels

Gallup said, “This raise in employee stress emphasizes the importance of organizations simultaneously addressing employee engagement and well-being in the current and future workforce.”

Workers told CNN that remote work has improved their lives and that they would choose to quit their jobs instead of returning to an in-person everyday work schedule.

The U.S. and Canada were among the countries in the study that reported the highest numbers of engaged yet stressed workers, while “only 13% of Europeans are engaged, but reported stress is lower.”

Harter said that “organizations can do more to train managers to better lead and motivate in hybrid environments. At minimum, managers should make sure they have at least one meaningful conversation with each of their employees every week,” per CNBC.