Australians Say Flexible Work Is More Important Than Career Progression

  • Sixty per cent of Australian employees prioritise flexible work over career progression, finds LifeWorks Mental Health Index

LifeWorks, a leading provider of digital and in-person total wellbeing solutions, released its monthly Mental Health Index showing the mental health scores in Australians have remained nearly -12 points below the pre-pandemic benchmark. The current score is -11.9, a decline of 0.6 points from the previous month.

All mental health sub-scores declined from December 2021 to January 2022, with optimism having the greatest decline by almost two points. At the regional level, mental health scores dropped sharply in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, while scores improved slightly in New South Wales and Western Australia.

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Australians prioritise flexible work over career progression

  • Sixty per cent of working Australians say flexible work is more important to them than career progression.
  • Thirty-three per cent say that flexibility is the most important action that their employer has taken to support mental health, and this group has a mental health score more than two points higher than the national average.
  • Twenty per cent say that employers making them feel valued is most important.
  • Eighteen per cent say that empathy is the most important to supporting mental health.

Comments from senior vice president managing director, Asia-Pacific, Jamie MacLennan
“With the spike in cases over the past few months due to the Omicron variant, people remained nervous in Australia despite the high vaccination rates. A resultant ‘shadow’ lockdown response combined with government recommendations to keep working from home impacted business conditions throughout January. In this ever-changing situation, our research for January highlighted that many employees are now placing more importance on workplace flexibility where, when and how they work rather than career progression, which often includes compensation, promotions and professional development. It is critical for employers to pay attention to the shift in perspective from their employees.”

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Recognition, peer relationships and respect are the top drivers of belonging at work

  • Recognition or appreciation is the top response when employees were asked what was most important in supporting a sense of belonging at work.
  • Co-worker relationships are the second most common response.
  • Employees who report workplace relationships as the most important aspect of feeling a sense of belonging at work have higher mental health, work productivity, isolation, and financial risk scores than national averages.

Comments from global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing, Paula Allen
“The continued isolation of many people in Australia has been detrimental to creating a sense of belonging in the workplace, and subsequently has led to negative impacts on productivity. It’s also important to consider that almost a third of Australians say their relationships with their co-workers is the reason they stay with their employer. Leaders must consider more factors than those they have traditionally when looking to foster a work environment that supports the total wellbeing of their employees. In addition to the services and tools they provide to support all facets of health, employers need to make sure their work culture is also supportive and visibly demonstrates recognition, appreciation, respect and positive relationships with colleagues.”

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