The way we work has drastically changed this year. Whether it’s working significantly longer or reduced hours or working from home, we’ve all had to learn new ways of getting the job done. In the midst of that, we’ve also had to learn a new way of living.
Transitions of this magnitude in our work lives can be stressful and sometimes, distressing. A survey in April by Relationships Australia found that up to 98% of respondents across every industry reported ‘significant changes’ to their work since the pandemic began. 63% of these respondents also experienced changes to their mental health as a result of changes in their work life.
While every workplace has adapted differently, all have likely relied on their leaders to steer their people through change with clear guidance, effective communication and most importantly, by continuing to promote a mentally healthy workplace.
According to Patrice O’Brien, Beyond Blue’s Chief Community Officer, many businesses were on the right foot from the get go when things began changing in March. She remembers there being “a genuine and urgent concern from businesses for the wellbeing of their people.”
Patrice says that many organisations are already thinking of mental health in a way that involves integrating it with their work culture. Her conversations have unearthed three key areas around mental health that are at the forefront of people’s minds – the economic impact, safety at work and the future of work.
“Many people have been hit hard and most organisations have been impacted economically and financially,” she says. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported in May that 72% of businesses have seen a decrease in revenue.
“There’s also a big safety impact for businesses, not just around cleaning practices but also psychosocial risks like changes at work, job clarity and being exposed to physical hazards. Then there’s the question of what work will look like in the near future.”
ABS data shows that 74% of actively trading businesses have changed their operating models in the past few months, including scaling down, moving inventory and reducing workforce. The bigger the business, the bigger the impact of these changes on their operations and workforce.