Australian workers not impressed with workplace conditions

by Elizabeth Barnard22 Aug 2012

Australian HR professionals are faring worse than their overseas counterparts on a number of key employee satisfaction fronts, a new report has revealed. In terms of engagement, trust in leadership, work environment, job security and pay – Australian workers are firmly unimpressed.

The international survey of 32,000 workers by Towers Watson revealed that almost three-quarters of Australian employees (72 %) were not fully engaged in their work. What’s more, Australian workers scored lower rates than the global average in nine out of 10 in-depth engagement questions.

So what is it about the Australian workplace that is so on-the-nose?

One of the foremost factors may be as simple as trust. Just 45% of Australian employees believe what they are told by their employers, just 3% better than how staff in economically ravaged countries such as Greece and Spain see their bosses. By comparison, 50% of staff in other developed countries trust what their leaders say.

Australian employees are also more distrustful about job security and their future financial wellbeing than their peers in countries experiencing a recession. Curiously, more than half of Australian employees (56%) are worried about the future of their finances compared to just 46% of employees in the UK and France.

Given the well-documented affect that disengaged staff have on overall organisational productivity, the poor results in engagement are not only an HR issue, but a financial one as well. “The findings suggest that, in the current climate, employees are finding it particularly difficult to sustain the kind of positive connection to their companies that yields consistent productivity,” Lesley Brown from Towers Watson commented. “There is a real imperative for change right now,” Brown said. “By taking actions to address identified gaps, organisations will be able to move some of the unsupported and detached to engaged — and likely experience a measurable and positive impact on financial performance.”

For HR professionals looking to gain back some ground in the engagement stakes, the report identified that the old tricks will no longer cut it. The priorities of Australian workers have shifted markedly, with salary and job security firmly back on the list as the most important factors. “In previous years there was greater emphasis on career advancement and development opportunities, particularly when looking to join an organisation,” the report said.  

The cash as king trend is back, and is most pronounced for employees at the start of their careers in the under-30 age bracket. “Cash is king, with fewer employees prepared to trade cash-ready compensation for paid time off, bonus opportunities or flexible working – when given the choice,” the report said.


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  • by Anonymous 23/08/2012 12:53:19 PM

    That's interesting considering that AU have been affected the least by the rest of the Western world's slumping economy.
    Maybe workers here just havent actually experienced poor conditions yet and have nothing to compare to whereas Europeans and Americans have.

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