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Fewer Australians report a sense of belonging at work when compared to pre-pandemic

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Corporate / Australia

Fewer Australians report a sense of belonging at work when compared to pre-pandemic

LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ indicates that more than half of Australians do their job when feeling unwell at least one day per week

LifeWorks, a leading provider of digital total wellbeing solutions, today released its monthly Mental Health Index™, revealing a negative mental-health score among Australians for the 17th consecutive month.

Key findings:

  • Overall mental-health score of -12.8 compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark.
  • In the latest survey, 77 per cent of respondents indicated that prior to the pandemic, they felt a sense of belonging and acceptance at work, but only 68 per cent felt the same during the past month.
  • This trend is seen across all age groups, however, the proportion of employees who report feeling a sense of belonging and acceptance at work increases with older age groups.

Pandemic-driven work-from-home model contributes to worsening isolation among Australian employees:

  • The majority of employees (71 per cent) who are working at a jobsite feel a greater sense of belonging and acceptance at work than those who work from home or in a hybrid workplace.
  • Isolation scores among those working exclusively from home are worse (-12.2) than those working in a hybrid model (-11.6) or from the jobsite (-8.7).
  • The 68 per cent of respondents who felt a sense of belonging and acceptance at work during the past month, had the highest mental-health score (-6.4) and the best isolation score (-7.4) compared to those who were unsure or did not feel the same way.

Comments from senior vice president and managing director, Australia and Asia-Pacific, Jamie MacLennan

“Australians have experienced waves of adjustment throughout the pandemic, with changing workplace restrictions impacting employees’ workplace setting. While many employees initially welcomed the transition to a remote or hybrid setting, we’re now seeing this same group feel a greater sense of isolation. A sense of disruption has been part of the strain of the pandemic, and it will increase as organisations begin to reintroduce employees back to the physical workplace. Organisations have a major role in helping people through this change, through a culture that supports wellbeing and resources that help people through practical challenges.”

Australian employees report working while unwell on weekly basis, contributing to productivity loss:

  • More than half of respondents (53 per cent) report doing their job when feeling unwell (physically or psychologically) at least one day per week. The mental-health scores among this group are significantly below those who report never working while feeling unwell.
  • Forty-seven per cent of respondents indicate that they never work while feeling unwell. This group has the most favourable mental-health score, at more than one point above the pre-2020 benchmark (+1.3).
  • Sixty per cent of parents report working when feeling unwell at least one day per week, compared to 40 per cent of non-parents.
  • Additionally, respondents who have a mental-health score of -40 or lower, are estimated to have a productivity loss of 26 per cent, compared to those with a mental-health score of +10 or more with a productivity loss of 10 per cent.

Comments from global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing, Paula Allen

“We all want to get back to a healthy and productive life, economy and workplace. The only way to do that is to be mindful of the things that may get in the way and address them. The workforce has gone through a lot and the impact will continue well after the pandemic risk has subsided. Organisations that help their people by prioritizing the mental health and wellbeing of employees will fare better through this next phase of pandemic and beyond.”

The full Australian LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ report can be found here. This month, the report includes additional insights on the impact of remote work on mental strain, reasons for missed time from work due to illness, employees’ ideal work situations and more.

About the Mental Health Index

The monthly survey by LifeWorks was conducted through an online survey from July 30 to August 5, 2021, with 1,000 respondents in Australia. All respondents reside in Australia and were employed within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflect this population. The Mental Health Index™ is published monthly, beginning April 2020, and compares against benchmark data collected in 2017, 2018, 2019.

About LifeWorks

LifeWorks is a world leader in providing digital and in-person solutions that support the total wellbeing of individuals. We deliver a personalised continuum of care that helps our clients improve the lives of their people and by doing so, improve their business.


Heather MacDonald

Angela Pinzon
Kaiser & Partners

Source: LifeWorks