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The pandemic did a number on employee satisfaction

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

It may come as a shock to hear that many workers were happier during the pandemic. However, new research has revealed exactly that, prompting concerns for the future of employee wellbeing.

Diversity Council Australia (DCA) dubbed 2023 the first normal year post-COVID-19. However, research from DCA revealed that 19 per cent of workers didn’t feel valued, respected, or able to contribute and progress at work in 2023. This figure has reportedly doubled since 2019.

Inclusivity has also taken a hit, with 27 per cent highlighting that their manager does not value differences, treat everyone fairly, or deal with inappropriate behaviour. This figure stood at 21 per cent in 2019 and 18 per cent in 2021.


DCA chief executive Lisa Annese commented on the findings: “While many behave as though the global pandemic is firmly behind us, Australians are still recovering from the shared trauma of these past few years.”

“Workplaces are adjusting to the latest ‘new normal’, grappling with questions around flexible working, AI technology, inflationary pressures, and growing skills shortages. Meanwhile, employees are still processing the trauma and disruption of the past few years, fuelling a growing disillusionment with traditional working arrangements.”

Harassment and discrimination also saw an increase in the past year. In 2023, thirty per cent of employees reported experiencing these negative trends in the workplace, up from 26 per cent in 2019 and 22 per cent in 2021.

If these issues are allowed to permeate, employees run the risk of becoming unhappy, dissatisfied, and disengaged.

Annese continued: “With all this in mind, it is unsurprising that DCA’s 2023-2024 Inclusion@Work Index finds workers feeling less connected, valued and included post-pandemic.”

“In a time of so much disruption and division, a focus on diversity and inclusion is more important than ever. This report addresses the unique problems of the post-pandemic workforce and lays out a case for DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] action as a proven solution.”

Promoting DEI can help organisations boost the engagement and wellbeing of workers. DCA revealed that “DEI active” organisations were more than twice as likely to have employees belong to an inclusive team than “DEI inactive” organisations (60 per cent versus 29 per cent).

Meanwhile, DEI active organisations were more likely to have an inclusive manager than their counterparts (41 per cent versus 18 per cent) and feel work has a positive impact on their mental health (43 per cent versus 25 per cent).

It didn’t end with satisfaction. In fact, DEI active organisations provided better customer service (58 per cent versus 23 per cent), were more innovative (40 per cent versus 18 per cent), had employees that worked better together (51 per cent versus 24 per cent), and had teams that were more willing to work hard (57 per cent versus 23 per cent).



According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, discrimination occurs when one individual or group of people is regarded less favourably than another because of their origins or certain personality traits. When a regulation or policy is unfairly applied to everyone yet disadvantages some persons due to a shared personal trait, that is also discrimination.


Harassment is defined as persistent behaviour or acts that intimidate, threaten, or uncomfortably affect other employees at work. Because of anti-discrimination laws and the Fair Work Act of 2009, harassment in Australia is prohibited on the basis of protected characteristics.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.