How are employees coping during COVID-19?

'The transition from home back to the workplace will be an anxious one for many'

How are employees coping during COVID-19?

Employees throughout Australia are increasingly satisfied with their organisations’ response to the COVID-19 crisis, with 39% saying the support they’ve received has improved since the pandemic first began, according to MetLife Australia.

MetLife Australia commissioned the research to better understand the impact of employers’ COVID-19 responses on the financial, physical and mental wellbeing of Australians during the pandemic.

The study revealed that 78% of people rated their employers’ response as good, very good or excellent, with the freedom and trust to work from home and regular communication key drivers of satisfaction.

Interestingly, there was a strong correlation between an employer’s COVID-19 response and an individual’s overall health and wellbeing rating.

Moreover, 39% of employees who reported a positive response claim it made them feel more loyal to their employer.

However, some Australian workers are still hesitant to take full advantage of the employer support available to them, with a third (33%) feeling there is a stigma associated with getting mental health support from their employer, and almost one in three (29%) believing the information shared through workplace mental health programs may be used against them.

Allyson Carlile, Head of People and Culture at MetLife Australia, said these misconceptions suggest employers have an opportunity to better communicate the benefits of their support offerings and increase trust among employees.

“Opening up about mental health concerns can be difficult at the best of times. But in the midst of a global pandemic and with all the uncertainty that people have been facing over the past few months, it’s more important than ever that Australians are comfortable accessing the support available to them,” said Carlile.

“On the whole, employers have been doing an excellent job of supporting their workers during this difficult time, and that’s reflected in the number of individuals who report feeling satisfied with their employer’s response to the crisis.

“But the reluctance by some Australians to take full advantage of the mental health tools on offer through their workplace suggests there is still work to be done.”

As the lockdown restrictions begin to ease across Australia, employers are facing a new challenge – how to best support their employees as they make the transition back to the workplace.

The research found that workers wanted their employer to provide a clearly defined transition plan, involve staff members in the consultation process and listen to their responses, ensure the work environment was safe and generally be open minded and flexible with regards to new ways of working.

“The transition from home back to the workplace will be an anxious one for many. The best thing employers can do during this time is ensure their staff feel supported and heard by providing regular, open communication every step of the way, and consulting with them on return to workplace plans,” said Carlile.

Human Resource Director is conducting a survey about the immediate effects of COVID-19 in the workplace. Results gathered will be used to create a comprehensive report to help industry professionals navigate the current landscape brought on by the pandemic. To be involved, click here.

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