Report finds Australian employees’ biggest concerns are emerging technologies, workplace stress and the employee experience

The 2018 Sunsuper Australian Employee Insights Report has made some interesting findings in relation to how Australian employees are currently feeling on a range of issues.

 

The report found that:

  • more than two thirds (68%) of Australian workers don’t feel in control at work and more than half (54%) feel stressed at least weekly
  • nearly half (44%) are worried about the impacts of emerging technologies in their workplace
  • the majority of (79%) say their employer could do more to improve their experience at work
  • when it comes to ways their employer can best support their financial wellbeing, employees want additional super contributions.

 

Causes of workplace stress

The 2018 Australian Employee Insights Report also found that the biggest causes of workplace stress were excessive workload pressure (34%), followed by personal issues with colleagues (16%), lack of work-life balance (15%), lack of job security (8%) and too much change at work (8%).

These results are alarming given that stress at work can impact employees’ engagement and productivity. Research shows us that stressed employees tend to have higher rates of absenteeism, are less engaged at work and aren’t as efficient, so the resilience of employees is important not only from a general wellbeing perspective, but also in terms of a company’s productivity and bottom line.

The good news is that workers say there are positive steps their employer can take to ease workplace stress. When asked about the ways their employer could ease their stress at work, almost half (47%) of employees said a positive workplace, including confident managers and good teamwork, would help prevent workplace stress and help support those who are stressed.

Other ways companies can help ease stress at work include: setting clear goals and reasonable workloads (41%), flexible working arrangements (34%), stress and compassionate leave (24%), financial wellbeing benefits (23%), training to deal with new technology (23%), mental health services (22%) and physical wellbeing benefits (18%).

 

Concerns about emerging technologies

More than one third (36%) of employees thought that technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and cognitive computers would start replacing jobs within the next few years.

The findings highlight that Australian workers’ believe that technology is undeniably changing the nature of work. Things like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, chatbots, voice-enabled assistants, facial recognition and cognitive computers are all starting to streamline business operations and have a direct impact on many employees’ roles.

At Sunsuper we’ve started using robotic process automation in our finance and administration teams and we’re currently working on a chatbot to digitise some of our front-end forms. Although employees were initially apprehensive, they definitely now see the value in these emerging technologies.

The report also found that although 25% of people thought emerging technologies would save time and money by automating boring processes and tasks and 17% thought it would create opportunities to do more interesting work, 19% felt they’d need to retrain and 15% were concerned it would increase the pace and pressure of their work.

These technologies have the potential to reinvent workers’ roles, and companies need to consider how they’ll design jobs, organise work and train and re-train their employees in the future.

Workers in the finance and IT industries were the most likely to see robots and AI impacting jobs in their industry within a few years (57%); whereas those in education (27%) and the healthcare, social services and arts and media industries (29%) were the most likely to say emerging technologies would never replace jobs in their industry.

When broken down by age, millennials were the most likely to say emerging technologies would replace jobs within the next few years (48%).

 

Improve the employee experience

The report also found that 60% of employees said their productivity would improve if their experience at work was great, 58% said it would enable businesses to keep the best employees and 45% said it would help achieve better business results.

The results show that employees have high expectations of their employer to provide a great experience for them at work, and workers’ expectations of their employers are increasing. Therefore employers need to consider if they’re doing enough to build an employee experience that their staff value enough to stay with their company, and go the extra mile when you need them to. Just as businesses need to walk in the shoes of their customer, creating a compelling employee experience involves seeing the world through employees’ eyes and focusing on what they most value.”

Some of the best ways employers can improve the employee experience include providing a positive culture (18%), additional financial benefits (12%), flexible work arrangements (11%), recognition and rewards (10%), great leaders (9%) and opportunities for career advancement (7%).

Interestingly, culture rated higher than financial benefits, which really highlights the value employees place on a great company culture.

The top results differed for each age group though. Millennials most wanted opportunities for career advancement (46%), Gen X’s wanted additional financial benefits (44%) and Baby Boomers wanted clear goals and expectations for their role (40%).

Although employees have high expectations of their employer to provide a great experience at work, they still rank customers as the most important stakeholder group to a company’s success (39%), with employees in second place (29%).

 

Better financial wellbeing support

The results show that lack of financial security was the biggest cause of stress for people (40%) and only one third (36%) of workers believed their company cares about their financial wellbeing.

When questioned about how they would most want their employer to support their financial wellbeing, 40% said through additional super contributions, 31% by offering financial advice and education, 21% said discounts on everyday items and 8% through budgeting guidance.

It’s clear that a significant proportion of Australian employees’ stress is caused by money worries and employers need to be doing more.

The report found that more than a quarter (28%) of people define financial wellbeing as ‘not being stressed about my finances’, so offering resources to help employees improve their financial health can add to a company’s employee experience and help employees cope with stress. With money-related issues in particular causing Australian workers significant stress, employee demand for their company to provide financial wellbeing benefits is increasing.

Other causes of financial stress included managing household finances and bills (35%), lack of savings for retirement (29%) and concerns about job security (28%).

When it came to people’s biggest concerns about retiring, 42% said not having enough money, 14% had no concerns, 12% said losing their health, 10% said being bored, 8% said losing my mental sharpness, 7% said losing their purpose, 4% losing their social connections and 3% said having to spend more time with their spouse.

 

About the 2018 Sunsuper Australian Employee Insights Report

The 2018 Australian Employee Insights Report is based on research conducted by YouGov Galaxy on behalf of Sunsuper, of 1,000 Australian workers (who are not self-employed) aged over 18 years. It also includes findings about company culture, employee resilience, workplace diversity, emerging technologies and financial wellbeing. For a full copy of the report, please visit

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