Despite COVID and lockdowns seeing many employers offer flexible and more inclusive workplaces, an overwhelming majority of Australian workers say they are unhappy and stressed.
New research from job site Indeed found 72 per cent of employed Australians said they had felt unhappy at work in the past 12 months, while 41 per cent of working-age Australians said work was one of the main sources of stress in their everyday life.
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Concerningly, many of those surveyed said their unhappiness in the workplace had been prolonged - with almost a quarter (22 per cent) of Australians saying they had felt unhappy for five or more consecutive months.
When it comes to what’s making Australian workers unhappy and stressed, heavy workloads, poor communication and poor relationships with colleagues and managers were the most common issues.
Others nominated long hours and tight deadlines (26 per cent), and not being able to ‘switch off’ from work after hours.
Different age groups have different reasons
The causes of unhappiness at work were also different, depending on the age of the worker.
For those aged 10-24, monotonous work and poor communication were the key stressors, while for older employees - aged 50-64 - heavy workloads and conflict with managers and colleagues were the most common gripes.
Sally McKibbin, career coach at Indeed, said expectations of work had changed, and that employees were no longer happy with a competitive salary and career development, they also wanted flexibility and a positive working environment.
“Most Australian workers expect to be happy at work, and aspire to achieve this,” McKibbin said.
“When people are happy in their role, they’re also more likely to stick around.”
For some, being unhappy at work can have a ripple effect on their lives outside the workplace, affecting relationships and mental health.
The majority of the workers surveyed (90 per cent) said their happiness at work affected their mood at home, especially those who also had children at home.
Amanda Gordon, Indeed psychologist, said the keys to happiness at work were inclusion, appreciation, support, trust, purpose, and achievement.
“Employers have so many opportunities to improve happiness in their workplaces and this ultimately starts and ends with good communication,” Gordon said.
“Communication in the workplace takes many forms, including providing clear direction and feedback, checking in on staff well-being, showing appreciation of good work and acknowledging achievements.”
The great resignation continues
More than a quarter (26 per cent) of Australian workers were currently looking for new jobs because they were unhappy in their current roles.
Of those on the hunt, more than a third (35 per cent) cited a lack of fair pay as their motivation for leaving, 30 per cent no longer felt energised by their tasks, and 27 per cent said they lacked opportunities for learning.
With the current tight employment market, Australian employees do have the balance of power when it comes to moving to a new workplace and negotiating for better working conditions.
Data supplied by Indeed revealed the industries and types of roles advertised in the past 12 months that had seen the most growth.
Strongest growth over the past three months
Social sciences +25.2 per cent
Civil engineering +23.3 per cent
Beauty & wellness +23.1 per cent
Architecture +21.1 per cent
Real estate +19.8 per cent
Construction +17.2 per cent
Scientific research +14.5 per cent
Retail +14.3 per cent
Loading & stocking +11.4 per cent
Dental +11.3 per cent
Highest posting share
Management 8.0 per cent
Retail 6.7 per cent
Sales 6.2 per cent
Food preparation & service: 5.6 per cent
Installation & maintenance: 4.9 per cent
Education 4.9 per cent
Software development 4.5 per cent
Administrative assistance 4.5 per cent
Personal care 3.6 per cent
Nursing 3.1 per cent