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BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — 8 May 2023: Global insurance, risk management and consulting firm, Gallagher, has released its annual Australian Workforce Trends Report, revealing employers need to go beyond salary and perks to attract and retain top talent. Creating safe and healthy workplaces, combining flexible work arrangements with training and development are now key drivers to creating a happy and fulfilled workplace.
"In today's challenging recruitment market, employers who recognise the importance of providing a range of benefits that cater to a varied workforce are more likely to attract — and more importantly — retain staff," said Dr. Scott Krebs, Head of HR and People Experience Consulting at Gallagher.
"Our research reveals not only the importance of workplace wellbeing but also the psychosocial risks that are coming into focus for all organisations," said Dr. Krebs.
"However, many employers lack an understanding of how to approach and resolve these risks from a practical perspective."
The Workforce Trends Report incorporating the Workplace Wellbeing Index is based on insights from more than 2,600 full-time, part-time, and casual employees across Australia. The research demonstrated a deterioration in workplace wellbeing from 2022 and highlighted the need for employers to have a greater focus on career, connection and psychosocial factors to improve the long-term employee experience.
Now in its second year, the Workplace Wellbeing Index acts as a barometer for how Australian workplaces are tracking in providing positive, safe, and effective workplaces for employees.
The 2023 Index reveals slightly less than half (48%) of all employees report high wellbeing. This figure shows a deterioration in wellbeing on 2022 figures where slightly more than half (52%) of all employees reported high wellbeing.
Of particular concern is that younger employees display significantly lower levels of wellbeing than older employees (5% lower), and there is an increasing trend where employees continue to work even when they feel they should take time off (or more time off) due to their wellbeing. The research found that almost half of all employees (46%) continued to work when they felt they needed time off — significantly more than the previous 12 months where around a third (31%) of employees reported this.
Such findings reveal an increasing risk for organisations is being unaddressed, both in relation to increasing leave, loss of productivity and the likelihood of work-related injury claims, particularly with poor mental health conditions at work increasing as a proportion of serious claims.
Psychological health risks have increased, rising from 6.2% of all serious claims in 2014-2015 to 9.3% in 2020-2021, and are one of the costliest form of claims, posing a median cost of $55,270 per claim, compared to $13,883 for physical injuries and diseases.
When candidates consider joining a new organisation, the research found that rewards and benefits are a crucial factor (22%) in their decision-making, with meaningful work (16%) and a focus on safety, health and wellbeing (15%) also ranking highly. In contrast, employees who have been working at their current organisation for two to three years place equal importance on remuneration, reward and benefits (19%), career growth (17%) with an equal focus on safety, health and wellbeing (17%).
For younger employees (18-24 years) the focus on safety, health and wellbeing is much higher (20%) and ranks above career growth (17%), meaningful work (14%) and remuneration (13%).
Overall, the workplace benefits that are listed as important by employees include flexible working arrangements (70%), professional training and development (69%) and career development programs (63%).
The research showed the importance of not only actively listening to employee feedback on wellbeing but also ensuring employees are confident in their organisation's ability to take meaningful action. While only two thirds of organisations (67%) ask for staff feedback only half (50%) of employees are confident that any changes will be made as a consequence of their feedback on wellbeing.
From an organisational perspective, the research reveals that budget constraints (43%), different business priorities (39%) and lack of senior leadership support (34%) were named as the key barriers to the implementation of wellbeing strategies in an organisation.
The report highlights the importance of taking a proactive approach to employee wellbeing and offers practical strategies for employers to create a positive workplace culture. These strategies include fostering employee engagement, providing support for mental health, and creating a sense of community and belonging.
"Where meaningful change to workplace wellbeing has been made, our research reveals that employees are 2.3 times more engaged at work, 1.7 times more likely to stay with the organisation and 1.5 times more willing to go above and beyond," said Dr. Krebs.
"Our research shows that psychosocial risks are coming into focus for organisations, but employers still lack awareness of what factors impact workplace wellbeing. Employers need to take focused and deliberate action to address these risks and prioritise employee wellbeing or face the significant financial and social costs."
Kimberlee Furness, General Manager, People and Culture, Netball Australia is leading Netball Australia's initiative to improve their organisation's employee experience based on Gallagher's framework.
"Not only do we feel a duty as a responsible employer to ensure we're providing a safe, positive workplace for our team, we're also keenly aware of the financial risks that face organisations that aren't proactive in improving their employee experience. From workplace claims, to increased employee turnover, the risks posed by poorly managed workplaces made the decision to benchmark our own workplace wellbeing against the Index an easy one."
Employers can access the full report and the Workplace Wellbeing Index by visiting here.
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Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE:AJG), a global consulting, insurance brokerage and risk management services firm, is headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Gallagher provides these services in approximately 130 countries around the world through its owned operations and a network of correspondent brokers and consultants.
The data and insights highlighted in the Workplace Trends Report were gathered from December 2022 to January 2023 with 2,606 employees from across Australia contributing to the results. The census representative sample included an even split on several demographics and included full-time, part-time and casual employees.
The Index provides a comprehensive snapshot of what is driving attraction and retention of employees and how organisation can compete in the current challenging market.
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