Flexible work improving mental health in Australia – report

LifeWorks Mental Health Index shows two-fifths of Australians want fully flexible working, while half say their CEO cares about employee wellbeing

Wellbeing solutions provider LifeWorks has released its monthly Mental Health Index for December 2021, which shows a slight improvement in Australian workers’ mental health. However, it also showed a negative score for the 21st consecutive month.

The overall mental health score for December 2021 was -11.3 compared to -12.2 in November.

Two in five of those surveyed said that full flexibility in working arrangements – including days worked, hours, and location – would be the best solution for their team. That compares to one in five who say the workplace is best, and just one in ten that say fully remote working is the way forward.

Other findings include:

  • 28% say the most important aspect of flexible working is being able to attend top personal issues
  • 26% say location is the most important factor
  • 25% say hours worked are the most important
  • 21% say days worked are the most important type of flexibility
  • 1% have dress code as their top flexibility priority

“Flexibility has largely dominated the way we speak about the future of work over the last two years and it is clear that having tailored options for how, when and where employees are able to work is becoming increasingly important to Australians,” comments Jamie MacLennan, senior vice president and managing director, Asia-Pacific, LifeWorks.

“Employees need autonomy and for many, this is a key driver of motivation and performance. It is critical for employers to meet this need in order to demonstrate the levels of trust and value that employees require for their wellbeing both inside and outside of the workplace.”

Australians believe their CEO cares about employee wellbeing

Employees who believe their CEO genuinely cares about their wellbeing score far better when it comes to their own mental health, according to the index.

The 58% that say their CEO cares have a mental health score of -5.8, which is more than 5 points above the national average.

Conversely, the 19% who say their CEO does not care about employees score a worrying -22.3 – almost double the average.

“Employee wellbeing support has traditionally been thought of as a human resources responsibility, however, our data shows that support must be consistent across all departments and management levels for employees to feel valued,” said Paula Allen, global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing, LifeWorks.

“Wellbeing needs to be approached from a holistic perspective and be inclusive of employees’ physical, mental, financial and social needs. Incorporating this into organisational culture will ensure employees are receiving the tools, resources, and support they need at an individual level and genuinely feel appreciated by their employer.”

Download the full Australian Mental Health Index™ report here. 


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