Aussie workplaces urged to proactively support employees

Last updated on 18 April 2024

Many Australians are experiencing poor management at work and a new report is urging employers to step up and fix that. [Source: Shutterstock]

Australia’s workplaces are stuck in the mud as gender pay equality, wage theft and diversity and inclusion practices stall, according to the new People at Work 2023: A Global Workforce View report. 

However, the vast majority of employees are optimistic about their workplace’s future, indicating it’s not all bad for employers.

Key points

  • ADP Research Institute released People at Work 2023: A Global Workforce View after surveying over 32,000 global employees, including more than 7,000 in the Asia Pacific region
  • Underpayments and wage theft are still a big issue in Australia with over a third of employees reporting they were paid incorrectly at their current workplace
  • Four in ten workers also said their company has not made any ground in gender pay equality
  • Half of the workforce is under the pump, expressing their concerns over feeling stressed at work, while one-quarter are worried about their job security

Australia’s workers have experienced a tumultuous few years, with aged care workers arguably copping the worst of it. Few would look back on the back-to-back hurdles of a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the COVID-19 pandemic as an easy experience. 

But now that COVID-19’s impact has lessened and the aged care sector is not facing high-level media scrutiny, employers and employees can breathe a sigh of relief. Both can focus on moving forward.

For employees, that includes focusing on a job that prioritises the following elements they said are most important to them:

  1. Salary
  2. Enjoyment of work
  3. Job security
  4. Flexibility of hours
  5. Career progression
  6. Training and development

In terms of employee dissatisfaction, there are five key areas for employers to focus on: 

  1. Lack of support from management
  2. Increased responsibility without increased pay
  3. Lack of progression
  4. Poor relationship with my manager(s)
  5. Lack of training and development

Employers urged to help out

With poor relationships with management and limited career development highlighted as top issues by many employees, aged care employers need to recognise where they can improve their internal systems. 

Kylie Baullo, ADP Managing Director ANZ said this can include promoting workplace flexibility – a growing trend – and proactively encouraging development and well-being.

“Flexible working arrangements continue to improve Australians’ hopes for their careers but aren’t the sole solution to employees’ sense of optimism,” Ms Baullo said.

“Continuing to reward achievements, addressing mental health concerns, upskilling training programs, and promoting open communication are all essential elements for creating a supportive workplace culture and in turn, creating employee optimism.”

“Innovation can also play a key role. By leveraging solutions that automate tasks, such as payroll administration, managers can devote more time to supporting and collaborating with their teams,” she added.

Employers are also under greater scrutiny to ensure they’re paying their employees correctly and on time. One-third said they are being paid incorrectly some of the time and 49% said they’re underpaid. 

Two options posed by the respondents include employers providing additional days of annual leave or one-off payments to support them while the cost of living rises.

Resilient employees still need support

More than half of the workforce reported feeling stressed at work at least 2-3 times a week, with 20% feeling stressed on a daily basis. What’s more, 57% believe their work suffers due to feelings of stress at work.

With all that in mind, employers need to identify ways to mitigate stress, management needs and be more proactive in supporting employees’ mental health in the workplace. 

“Australians are an overwhelmingly resilient bunch. Despite the increasing pressures of the cost of living and the widely reported concerns around AI replacing workers and wage discrepancies, our research shows that Australians are positive about the future of work. That said, businesses must keep this sentiment alive, especially in light of these concerns,” Ms Baullo said.

“Employers should continue prioritising supporting and freeing their HR teams from administrative activities to focus on important strategies, such as employee engagement. One option is to outsource back-end functions, such as payroll, to third-party experts.”

The report also said that managerial training on mental health issues can provide employees with the support they need to manage stress and open communication is essential for promoting a positive work environment.

human resources
People At Work
wage theft
gender pay equity
job security
ADP Research Institute