New survey reveals insights into the psychological health of Australian workers
A new survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has shed light on elevated stress levels in the workplace in the past 12 months and its impact on workers' mental and physical health.
The Stress and Wellbeing in Australia in 2013: A state-of-the-nation survey- released today to mark the start of National Psychology Week (10 - 16 November) - revealed that current stress is having at least some impact on the physical health of 75% of Australian workers and the mental health of 68% of workers. Also concerning, is that 1 in 7 working Australians reported depressive symptoms in the severe to extremely severe range.
Professor Lyn Littlefield FAPS, Executive Director of the APS, said this survey data presents a compelling argument for a widespread review into the methods for dealing with the causes of workplace stress.
She said: "Work-related stress is a problem that not only affects the health and wellbeing of employees, but also workplace productivity. Stress can occur in a wide range of situations, but is often made worse when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues or little control over their work. Thus, it's a problem that demands a collective solution.
"It is vital for us to examine why workers are feeling this way. The survey has shown that common factors include employees reporting significantly lower job satisfaction and significantly lower levels of interest in their job than in previous years. Only 46% of working Australians also reported receiving regular feedback and recognition for their work, which should be of concern to employers."
A total of 1548 people completed the online survey-including a sub-sample of 999 working Australians- which included measures from the workplace wellbeing subscale of the UK Wellbeing Measure. This scale examined factors such as job satisfaction, work-life balance, how interesting a job is, how stressful a job is, appropriateness of salary, and likelihood of unemployment.
"Since commencing this annual survey in 2011, we've seen a significant decline in workplace wellbeing in just two years and almost half of working Australians (47%) rated issues in the workplace as a source of stress," she said.
Workplace stress has a significant impact on business as Worksafe figures show stress is the second most common cause of workplace compensation claims in Australia.
Other findings included:
Half of working Australians reported that their employer valued their contribution and cared about their wellbeing;
50% also reported that their employer supports staff with mental health issues
Young working Australians (18-35) were more concerned than older working Australians about being able to pay for essential needs because of uncertainty about the ongoing availability of work
"National Psychology Week is an excellent opportunity for people to take time out and assess if stress is having a negative impact in their working environment. Psychologists are a trusted source of professional help if people are feeling over-stressed and are struggling to remedy the causes of this stress, so there is a lot to be gained by reaching out for advice," said Professor Littlefield.
"While individuals are not able to control all aspects of their working environment using stress management techniques and making changes to things that are within their control can help to manage stress."
The APS provides the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program to assist organisations to improve psychological health - www.apshealthyworkplace.com.au, and a free referral service for the general public, GPs and other health professionals who are seeking the advice and assistance of a psychologist at www.findapsychologist.org.au.