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Organisational change playing a role in the ‘workplace mental health crisis’

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
Organisational Change Playing A Role In The Workplace Mental Health Crisis

Business leaders are feeling the strain of the modern workforce as a significant number struggle with mental health challenges. Reportedly, organisational change is playing a key role in this.

SuperFriend’s Indicators of a Thriving Workplace Survey revealed that 46 per cent of Aussie workers who have a mental health condition believe that their workplace has caused or exacerbated their condition.

Meanwhile, 49 per cent of workers across Australia have experienced major organisational change lately, an issue that is reportedly taking its toll on wellbeing.


“With almost half of Australian workers experiencing a major organisational change in the past 12 months, and with the rising cost of living pressures, it is more important than ever for organisations to prioritise mental health practices in the face of increasing turbulence and uncertainty,” commented SuperFriend chief executive Darren Black.

Leadership was noted as a major influence on employee mental health, with those who viewed their workplace as a positive to their mental health reported 20 points higher than those who said their workplace made it worse. This shows just how crucial leadership is in promoting wellbeing in the workplace. Despite this, 41 per cent of leaders lack the essential skills to perform effectively.

Dr Natalie Flatt, chief mental health adviser at SuperFriend, commented: “It’s undeniable that leaders are ‘culture architects’ in the workplace and help to foster resilience amidst frequent workplace changes and external pressures.”

“The results of the 2023 Indicators of a Thriving Workplace report tell us that there is a gap, with 44 per cent of employees not feeling comfortable talking about their mental health at work, which is worrying,” she said.

Workplaces can help to turn this data around by prioritising mental health in the workplace and implementing policy that helps to heighten employee wellbeing. This can not only help staff to thrive, but can translate to better business outcomes.

“There is a unique opportunity for organisations and leaders to have a positive impact on the lives of their employees and be rewarded for it with increased productivity and reduced absenteeism,” explained Dr Flatt.

“It’s critical that adequate training and support is provided at all levels to mitigate stressors, set a culture of wellbeing, and prioritise early intervention. Monitoring absenteeism, fostering open communication and connection through an empathetic lens, and promoting flexibility create psychologically safe and thriving environments where teams are set up for success.”

The impact that work has on our mental health can’t be ignored, and it’s up to leaders to help mitigate these issues through care and attention.

Dr Ross Iles, associate professor and chief research officer at SuperFriend, agreed: “We can show that being a mentally healthy workplace is not only good for people, it’s good for business.”

“We found 11 per cent of people with a mental health condition said work had a positive impact on their mental health. This shows there is untapped potential for the workplace to be a place that improves mental health – and that targeted action can help lift that number higher.”


Change management

Change management is the process of guiding workers through a change by monitoring its effect on their output, morale, and other stakeholders is part of the change. This can be carried out constantly or on a set schedule, such as weekly, monthly, or yearly.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.