Reduction in work stress important motivator for employed Australians

A workplace study by leading life insurer MetLife has found significant differences in the priorities of Australian employees and employers when it comes to workplace health and wellness. 

MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS) found Australian employers don’t place as much importance on health issues such as depression (6% employer v 32% employee ranking) and stress and anxiety (11% employer v 29% employee ranking) – even though these are all key concerns for employees.

In the latest study in Australia, MetLife’s EBTS research explores the attitudes of 300 Australian company managers and over 500 Australian full-time employees towards key employee benefit trends and issues.

When asked what the greatest health fears for their staff were, Australian employers ranked their employees’ medical problems (88%) over their emotional health (69%) and lifestyle issues (62%). However, the study showed 84% of Australian workers worry more about their emotional wellbeing, compared with 70% who are concerned with medical issues.

According to MetLife’s EBTS, employers recognise the benefits of offering wellness programs to staff, included increased staff retention, employee engagement and improved productivity. However, the most widely offered health and wellness programs, such as flu shots (42%) and employee assistance programs (42%), did not have a high correlation with what employees are interested in (21% and 23%, respectively).

To achieve the best employer-employee outcomes, MetLife Australia CEO, Deanne Stewart said it was crucial for employers to align their benefits with employee interest and identify ways to create a more inclusive, human-centred work environment.

“As working hours grow longer, and associated stress and anxiety is the rise, employers need to acknowledge employees’ mental health concerns and address these head on. While it’s encouraging to see more employers offering health and wellness programs, our research shows that  these are often misaligned to staff needs,” Ms Stewart said.


Improving staff resilience: opportunity for employers

According to MetLife’s research, offering solutions to improve mental health and overall wellbeing could be a major opportunity for Australian employers. Second only to salary, a reduction in work stress is an important motivator (31%) for Australians looking for a new job.

“In a fiercely competitive employment market, companies need to stand out and do all they can to attract and retain top talent. This might mean considering benefit solutions that focus on improving staff resilience, relieving work stress and providing mental health programs that offer support in the workplace. These types of initiatives can help to build a more positive workplace which can in turn boost staff satisfaction and overall productivity,” Ms Stewart said.