Leaders are struggling to manage change, new report finds
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Leaders are struggling to manage change, new report finds

Leaders are struggling to manage change, new report finds

by Freya Lucas

December 01, 2023

Organisations need to better support their leaders and staff to help them to build thriving and mentally healthy workplaces, a new report from SuperFriend has found. 


The 2023 Indicators of a Thriving Workplace report, encompassing nearly 10,000 Australian workers across 19 sectors and industries, delves deep into the characteristics of workplaces, psychosocial hazards, and their profound influence on key employee mental health-related outcomes such as retention, absenteeism, burnout, and productivity. 


Its key findings underscore the pressing need for employers to apply attention to areas such as leadership, safety, work design, and capability within their workplace. 


The report has also revealed that almost half of leaders (41 per cent) lack the essential skills required to perform their job effectively, and that this impacts on their employees, and their mental health and wellbeing. 


With nine years of consecutive reporting in this domain, the SuperFriend findings are a significant indicator that Australia needs to place more emphasis on supporting workers and leaders, and on building the capacity of leaders to govern workplaces effectively. 


Currently many workers lack confidence in the capabilities of their managers when dealing with change management, amplifying the need for better support for leaders in shaping a positive wellbeing culture.


“With almost half (49 per cent) of Australian workers experiencing a major organisational change in the past 12 months, and with the rising cost of living pressures, it is more important than ever for organisations to prioritise mental health practices in the face of increasing turbulence and uncertainty,” said SuperFriend CEO Darren Black. 


Disturbingly the survey also found that 46 per cent of respondents who identified as having a mental health condition said their workplace has either caused or exacerbated their condition.


Leaders influence on mental health


The research assessed how people view leadership’s effectiveness in influencing mental health outcomes in the workplace. Notably, those who viewed their workplace as positively influencing their mental health reported a score almost 20 points higher than those who said their workplace made it worse, highlighting the significant correlation between strong leadership and mental health.


For SuperFriend’s Chief Mental Health Advisor Dr Natalie Flatt the results are unsurprising. 


“It’s undeniable that leaders are ‘culture architects’ in the workplace and help to foster resilience amidst frequent workplace changes, and external pressures,” she said.


“The results of the 2023 Indicators of a Thriving Workplace report tell us that there is a gap, with 44 per cent of employees not feeling comfortable talking about their mental health at work, which is worrying,” she added.


Workplaces should do more


SuperFriend is calling on organisations to better understand the needs of their employees and implement mentally healthy solutions in order to address the issues, and shift the dial so that workplaces across the country thrive. 


“There is a unique opportunity for organisations and leaders to have a positive impact on the lives of their employees, and be rewarded for it with increased productivity and reduced absenteeism. It’s critical that adequate training and support is provided at all levels to mitigate stressors, set a culture of wellbeing, and prioritise early intervention. Monitoring absenteeism, fostering open communication and connection through an empathetic lens, and promoting flexibility, create psychologically safe and thriving environments where teams are set up for success,” Dr Flatt said.


For further information and to access the 2023 ITW Key Insights report, please visit: Indicators of a Thriving Workplace SuperFriend

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