Stressed out employees admit they've slacked off

Founder of Employment Hero explains why this is happening and what HR can do to combat the problem

Stressed out employees admit they've slacked off

Few of us would want to confess to slacking off at work, so you have to perhaps admire the honesty of Australian employees who have admitted feeling less productive than a year ago.

A survey, from HR software firm Employment Hero, found that 57% described their productivity as high, compared to 72% last year. Furthermore, 52% rated their work-life balance as average or poor, compared to 46% of people in 2021, possibly - suggests the report’s authors - due to workforces being spread thin due to staff shortages.

Sydney-based Employment Hero provides automated solutions for employee management and engagement, payroll and employee benefits. It works with over 80,000 SME businesses across the world and believes employers who invest in wellness initiatives could help their staff feel better supported.

Over 1,000 workers from around Australia were asked about a range of employment issues in the firm’s annual Wellness Report, including the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, how financial stress affected their working day and how personally fulfilled they were.

Some 52% of respondents said their stress levels were negatively impacted due to the pandemic, while 53% per cent of Australian employees felt burnt out, up by three per cent on last year. A further 36% of workers agreed that COVID-19 had decreased the importance that they put on their career.

Finances preoccupied many with 56% reporting that they were stressed about money and just under half of workers, 48%, were uncomfortable discussing their finances with their employer. When asked whether they were fairly paid for the work that they do, 58% agreed but a significant 31% said they were not.

Ben Thompson, CEO & Founder of Employment Hero, explained that COVID-19, diminishing staff numbers and supply chain issues were all contributory factors to an unsettled workforce.

“With so many factors at play, we’re all feeling an unnerving mix of uncertainty and concern,” he offered. “And while we’re glad that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, what’s ahead of us remains unclear. The rising cost of living and inflation is also impacting our day-to-day. “To say that there’s a lot going on in Australia right now is an understatement – and these events are influencing your employees in a major way. They can significantly impact one’s sense of wellbeing, which can seep into every part of life, including work.”

He added: “The good news is, what employers do to support their employees’ wellness can make a big difference. Workplace wellness programs can make employees feel more supported, fight risks to their wellbeing, and improve overall happiness in every aspect of their lives.”

On a positive note, the majority of Australian employees surveyed said they had found fulfilment in their working life. An encouraging 69% of workers agreed that the work they did was meaningful to them, while 72% of workers said their workplace accepted them for who they were as a person and 61% of workers felt valued and appreciated for the work that they did.

Fifty per cent of employees agreed that their company was very supportive of their mental health though 42% of respondents still felt uncomfortable discussing mental health in the workplace.

“Managers will need to find new strategies to support hybrid teams, both virtually and onsite,” the report suggested. “Recognising the signs of an employee who is struggling, keeping up a regular communications cadence, and providing remote mental health tools will be essential.”

Thompson, an employment lawyer of 20 years standing, spent several years working in banking & finance industry in Sydney. He moved to London at the peak of the dot com boom where he realised his true passion of combining business and technology to create innovative new companies. He co-founded Employment Hero in 2014, with a mission to make employment easier and more rewarding for all personnel.

“We spend, on average, one-third of our lives at work, which can be exhausting if our wellbeing isn’t supported,” Ben reflected. “We want to bridge the gap between employers and employees when it comes to creating thoughtful and powerful wellness programs.”

Employment Hero has extended its reach into New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and the UK, its tools now accounting for the management of some 750,000 employees.

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