Workers anxious about economic downturn and future jobs

Kristy Duffy.
Kristy Duffy.

More than 90 per cent of workers are anxious about their jobs and the current economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic new research has found.

Research by the Australian HR Institute and The Wellbeing Lab, also found 82 per cent of workers reported feeling anxious about catching or spreading coronavirus.

The research surveyed 1019 workers representative of the Australian workforce, just before the closure of non-essential businesses.

"Given the rapid and unpredictable changes the bushfires, COVID-19, and the economic downturn have created for most workplaces it is understandable that the majority of Australian workers are experiencing more struggle," Dr Michelle McQuaid from the Wellbeing Lab said.

"Our research showed that 81 per cent of workers reported increased levels of struggle since the start of 2020, with their mental health, managing money at home, and changes at work being their biggest challenges."

Chief Executive Officer Australian HR Institute Sarah McCann-Bartlett said that these results highlight the real and significant impact the current situation is having on workers all across Australia.

"We're going through an unprecedented time and there's no doubt that it's making people feel vulnerable and unsure about what the future holds. It is at times like this that strong and effective leadership is more important than ever before,' she said.

The Wellbeing Lab's Kristy Duffy said the anxiety is not so much about the fact that the economy might not bounce back, it's the rapid and unpredictable rate of change that has hit us.

"For many, it is one heavy wave after another and it is the not knowing when things will clear," she said.

"This is another reason why proactive, practical and achievable wellbeing tools and strategies are critical at a time like this."

Ms Duffy said workers could do three things to help them care for their wellbeing.

  • Understand their ability to care for their wellbeing - find out where they are struggling.
  • Understand their level of motivation to take action - ask the hard question - can I be bothered to do something about it? Why or why not?
  • Ensure they contribute to a psychologically safe workplace - the social context of the workplace matters. Leaders should ensure they create an environment where people feel safe to bring up problems and talk honestly about fear and failure and workers need to ensure they positively show up. By this I mean each and every person has a choice in how they respond and connect with others - connecting with kindness, respect, curiosity and appreciation that struggle is normal will ensure we all play a part in making our workplace psychologically safe.
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