Should HR be concerned about employee economic insecurity?

One CEO says there's considerable challenges ahead for Australian workers

Should HR be concerned about employee economic insecurity?

With the federal election just over a month away, politicians could garner some valuable campaign trail insights from the report released after the Elmo Employee Sentiment Index survey. If the results are anything to go by, whoever wins the election is going to have their work cut out to raise the spirits of Australia’s workforce, four-fifths of whom (78%) fear that the current global conflict will negatively impact their economic security, while 44% believe it will negatively impact their job security.

The quarterly survey conducted by HR software provider Elmo found that Australian workers’ perceptions of their economic security has hit it lowest point in a year, with just 15% of survey respondents ranking the economy as secure, down from 30% in the Q1 survey last year. In addition, Australian workers are worried about the rising cost of living, with almost 1 in 5 respondents saying they weren’t working enough hours to make ends meet.

Elmo Software CEO Danny Lessem said: “There are some considerable challenges facing Australian workers and businesses.”

So, how much of this worker insecurity falls under an employer’s duty of care to their employees, and should employers be concerned?

“There is definitely a duty of care for employers to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees,” said Lessem. “It's incumbent on employers to address the issue, not only in the ethical sense, but also just very practically in a commercial sense, businesses need people to run, and people are leaving their jobs, or they are not performing because they are under immense stress or pressure. There are very, very bad consequences for business."

The data revealed 46% of workers admitted to feeling burn out, and almost 1 in 3 workers felt overwhelmed with the amount of work they do. So, what can employers do to help employees feeling the pressure?

“The big thing they can do is really listen to the issues that are facing the reasons for those stressors and really contextualise the internal policies or their processes going forward to address those sorts of issues.”

Often people can get themselves into financial stress because they don't have enough tools and training to assist them in terms of into terms of budgeting, spending, investing. Lessem says, “It would be progressive of business to institute programs to educate people on financial wellbeing, so that they do better with the sorts of debt loads they carry with them with their spending habits.

Lessem said, the survey findings are a reminder that the workplace of tomorrow is very different to the workplace of today and employers need to adapt to the needs of their workforce if they are going to remain competitive.

Two years of working remotely and now moving into a hybrid work situation has provided both the employees and companies with many opportunities, but it also has added certain challenges and many stressors.

“On the one side, businesses or employers have to listen to the issues and suggestions by employees and where there is economic viability address them. And on the other side is also acknowledged that the way we work has changed, and that they need to change their processes to address the new way of working.”

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