Employees say their work is suffering due to poor mental health

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 24 October, 2022 - 12:00
Policy & legislation
National News

Almost half the Australian workforce (46 per cent) say their work is suffering as a result of poor mental health, according to a recent research report.

This rises to over half (56 per cent) of millennial workers (25-34-year-olds), compared to less than 2 in 10 (17 per cent) of the 55+ age bracket, the survey of almost 1,400 workers in Australia has found.

People working from home are more likely to feel that poor mental health is having a detrimental impact on their work (55 per cent) than their colleagues in the workplace (36 per cent).

Across the Asia-Pacific region, 56 per cent of workers say mental health issues are taking a toll on their work, according to the ADP Research Institute’s People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View, which took in 32,924 workers across 17 countries.

In addition, the frequent stress and burnout that many workers were already feeling, appears to have been exacerbated since the pandemic.

Seven in 10 workers across Australia (70 per cent) say they experience stress at work at least once a week, up from 62 per cent pre-pandemic in 2020, and one in seven (27 per cent) feel stressed 4 or more times a week.

The most common cause of stress is having increased responsibility as a result of the pandemic, with 45 per cent of workers citing it as a major cause. Other key sources of stress include the length of the working day (for 29 per cent), problems with technology (27 per cent) and concerns over job security (27 per cent).

“It’s concerning to see the number of workers, and especially millennial workers, struggling in Australia due to mental health issues,” said Kylie Baullo, managing director of ANZ at ADP.

“There are ongoing issues around the rising cost of living worldwide, and the demands placed on workers across industries is only rising. There are, however, a range of issues and factors which can lead to mental ill health.

“It is important to note that workers may be struggling whether they are working from home or at the office – in this case, managers should be vigilant to ensure they are offering support no matter the working location.”

Most employers across Australia (82 per cent) are being proactive about finding new ways to support the mental health of their workforce. Chief among the initiatives being tried are: checking in or communicating with employees more (33 per cent of workers say their employers are doing so), allowing well-being days off (27 per cent), implementing Employee Assistance Programs (23 per cent) and allowing staff to take additional breaks during the day (21 per cent).

“Unless the causes of poor mental health – whether it be personal or work-related, or both – are identified and dealt with, the impact of well-intentioned schemes could be undermined. Employers need to prioritise ways to boost workplace mental well-being, and remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach,” said Baullo.