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Workers press employers to speak out on social issues

Juliet Helmke
21 July 2021 1 minute readShare
Workers press employers to speak out on social issues

As issues like climate change, race and gender discrimination, and economic inequality continue to grow in concern for Australians, so, too, are workers across the country’s industries increasingly expecting their employers to take a public stance.

Atlassian and PwC have released the second edition of their annual Return on Action report, and it reveals more Australians now expect the businesses they work for to speak up on social issues.

The survey, which polled over 1,200 Australian workers, found that nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of employees want their workplaces to be just as concerned with social impact as with financial results. In 2020, 69 per cent felt this was an issue of importance in their employment.

And despite tough economic conditions, 37 per cent said they would quit their jobs if an employer acted in a way that didn’t align with their values. This is among the largest statistical increases the report found, with only 6 per cent making the same statement a year ago.

Another reason for cutting ties with an employer may come down to their willingness to keep up with the remote work revolution: 42 per cent of those surveyed said they’d consider changing jobs for more opportunities to work from home.

That was a particularly common response among Gen Y, with half reporting they’d move companies for greater access to remote work. Among those in the information, media and telecommunications industry, that figure reached 58 per cent.

Greater flexibility in working location wasn’t the only shift brought about by living through a pandemic.

The anxiety of the past year appears to have spurred many to address impediments in their mental wellbeing. Mental health was cited as the most pressing issue facing Australian employees in 2021, jumping from fourth — behind the cost of living, drought and access to healthcare — in 2020.

Concurrently to its research among the Australian workforce, Atlassian also polled US employees for their changing attitudes towards their jobs. 

This year, mental health and wellbeing emerged as the issue uniting workers across the two countries, with a majority of the 3,500 respondents saying that they would prioritise their work/life balance over being promoted.

According to the dual reports, 64 per cent of US and 69 per cent of Australian respondents would be prepared to turn down a promotion if they felt doing so would preserve their mental health. 

In Australia, this was a conviction that remained consistent across the workers polled, with the rate hovering around the mid-60 per cent mark from Gen Z through to Baby Boomers, and across all income levels.

Workers press employers to speak out on social issues
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Juliet Helmke

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