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Small businesses shunning mental health amid survival struggles

Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores
09 October 2020 1 minute readShare
Small businesses shunning mental health amid survival struggles

A new study on workplace mental health has found that “struggling to survive” the coronavirus crisis has become the biggest hurdle preventing small businesses from investing in workplace mental health and wellbeing.

The research from SuperFriend found that more than half (55.1 per cent) of workplaces are still not taking any tangible action, despite a stronger national focus and additional funding.

The new biggest hurdle to workplace mental health initiatives, especially for small businesses, was “businesses facing more important issues/struggling to survive”, while “lack of time and commitment” has tumbled as the most commonly perceived barrier.

However, one in three workplaces (29.8 per cent) has implemented new initiatives to support workers’ mental health and wellbeing since March, such as paid mental health days off, sick pay for casual workers, meeting-free blocks and substantially longer break times.

“Lost productivity due to mental ill-health is estimated to cost the Australian economy between $10 billion and $182 billion every year, but on the flip side, every dollar invested into workplace mental health is estimated to deliver a return on investment of 5:1,” said SuperFriend chief executive Margo Lydon.

“In light of this, taking action by investing in workplace mental health and wellbeing is not an optional extra, it’s a must-have.

“With Australia’s increasing awareness of workplace mental health and its links to productivity, combined with our radically transformed ways of working, I hope this marks a positive tide of change.”

The research also found that casual workers were suffering more than full-time workers, with reports of persistent declines in respect and inclusiveness over three consecutive years.

Ms Lydon said the trend is “hugely concerning”.

“Over the last few years of conducting this research, we have noticed a persistent decline in outcomes for casual workers and industries with higher casualised workforces,” she said.

“Casual workers have very little job security and fewer opportunities to access workplace mental health programs and resources compared with their securely employed peers. Accommodation, food services and arts and recreation workers have been particularly hard hit because of this.”

The survey was completed online by 10,338 Australians who worked and/or received a JobKeeper payment between March and June 2020 (inclusive) across a broad range of industries, role types and locations.

Small businesses shunning mental health amid survival struggles
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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of MyBusiness. Before that, he was the deputy editor for SMSF Adviser as well as features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at [email protected].

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