The rising responsibility of business

For the second year Atlassian and PWC have released a report that helps understand how the priorities and expectations of the workforce have changed over the past year, and the implications for businesses and leaders.

The primary goal of this research was to find out which issues are most important to workers, and how these priorities have changed during the past year. 

A survey of 1,225 Australian employees was completed late February to mid-March 2021 and the sample provided representation across demographics, geographies, employment industries and business size by number of employees.

The survey found that there has been a shift over the last 12 months, with mental health now number one societal issue for employees. While cost of living (#1 in 2020) is still very important, it now ranks third behind access to healthcare.

More than a third of employees (37%) look to their employers as the main source of mental health support.  This rises to 41% amongst Gen Y and 45% of male employees compared to 31% of females (which is statistically significant difference by gender).

This reinforces that beyond point-in-time support, employers have an important role to play in providing holistic mental health support to their workforce.

There were mixed feelings about the levels of support provided by employers during the pandemic. Overall, one in four (25%) agreed that they did not receive adequate support and these responses were consistent across generations Z, Y and X.

One in four respondents (26%) experienced mental ill health and distress over the last 12 months, rising to 41% among Gen Z and 31% among Gen Y.  This was more common among women (31%) than men (18%).  An ability to switch off from work/burnout was experienced by 30% of Gen Z and 23% of Gen Y employee s in the past 12 months.

Anxiety regarding job prospects is high with 43% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement “I am worried about my future job prospects with the current economy”.

Two in three respondents (69%) would consider turning down a job promotion in order to preserve their mental health, with responses broadly consistent across generational cohorts. However more female respondents (74%) agreed with the statement “I would consider turning down a job promotion in order to preserve my mental health” compared to 64% of males.

The report also finds that there is an expectation that businesses act on the major issues of the day, and that an integrated approach to corporate social responsibility will contribute to employee satisfaction and retention.

Read the full report.