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Measuring mental health in the workplace

By Jack Campbell | |4 minute read

Supporting employees’ mental health can be difficult as each person has different expectations, needs, and goals. However, utilising research can help to create a foundation employers can build upon.

SuperFriend’s Indicators of a Thriving Workplace report outlined what the organisations that are getting wellbeing right are doing and how Australian workplaces fare in supporting their workforce.

There are five key areas from which the country’s workplaces were scored, with each having a figure out of 100:

  • Connectedness: 78.5
  • Safety: 76.1
  • Leadership: 71.4
  • Work design: 70.1
  • Capability: 67.9

Each of these areas contributed to an overall score of 72.8 out of 100. Capability was the lowest-scored area, indicating a need for intervention from businesses.

SuperFriend said this score can be increased if leaders ensure they’re providing employees with the skills and resources to support their mental health of themselves and their colleagues.“These survey results provide valuable insights into the state of workplace mental health in Australia. They underscore the need for targeted interventions and support to address challenges and foster thriving workplace practices specific to each industry,” said SuperFriend chief executive Darren Black.

“Having such practices in place provides mutual benefits, that is, better wellbeing for workers and improved business productivity and outcomes for employers.”

The report outlined the top factors that led to a high thriving workplace score:

  • Being aged between 30 and 44 years
  • Working somewhere between 30 and 49 hours per week
  • Working full-time
  • Working in an organisation with over 200 employees
  • Owning the business or being a manager at some level
  • Coming from Tasmania or NSW

The factors that led to a low score were also shown:

  • Being aged between 55 and 64 years
  • Working over 60 hours per week
  • Working on a casual basis
  • Working for an SME (2–200 employees)
  • Being financially stressed and unable to access emergency funds
  • Coming from Queensland or the ACT

Psychosocial hazards were a major contributor to low scores. The five lowest-scoring hazards were:

  1. Inappropriate workload
  2. Low recognition
  3. Poor change management
  4. Poor management support
  5. Low job control

Mitigating these hazards can help to boost employee mental health. Businesses may benefit by taking a step back and reviewing these areas, ensuring staff are supported and their concerns heard.

Ross Iles, chief research officer at SuperFriend, commented: “The latest Indicators of [the] survey identifies priority action areas for organisations and policymakers looking to improve mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

“By focusing on the identified domains and addressing psychosocial hazards, Australian workplaces can create environments that promote positive mental health outcomes for all employees.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.