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New indicators of a thriving workplace survey: What’s changed since 2022?

Superfriend’s latest survey shows there is huge potential for small business owners and sole traders to play a positive role in the mental health and wellbeing of themselves and their employees. Currently, over a third of workers are feeling stressed and burnt out, with only 11% saying that work had a positive impact on their mental health. But the good news is the opportunity this presents for small business owners and sole traders to take the lead in turning this around.

The Indicators of a Thriving Workplace survey is run annually by Australian mental health promotion organisation, Superfriend. Over 10,000 Australian workers completed the survey in August 2023, and for small business owners it’s worth reading.

Since the 2022 survey, thriving workplace scores have unfortunately dropped, bringing the average thriving workplace score down to 68 (2023) from 73 (2022). According to the latest survey, 38% of workers had recently experienced high or very high levels of distress, 33% reported symptoms of burnout, and 5% reported being completely burnt out. These lower levels of wellbeing can lead to more time off, lower productivity, and higher staff turnover.

The survey highlights five ways to achieve a thriving workplace. By making improvements across these areas, small business owners can reduce the negative and costly impact of poor mental health and wellbeing at work:

  • Connectedness: Connectedness if often strong in small businesses with small and tight knit groups of workers. But this can make any issues or tensions present felt across the whole workplace. Connection can also be difficult for sole traders, but there are some things that can help. Take a look at the social connection and peer support resources for guidance.
  • Safety: One in four workers had a harmful workplace experience in the past 12 months including bullying, harassment, discrimination or violence. Organisations with clear rules and policies regarding these harmful experiences are less likely to have them occur. Small businesses should ensure they know how to prevent and respond to workplace bullying.
  • Work design: Work design was scored higher for small businesses than medium and larger organisations, but there is still room for improvement. Promoting work-life balance is key to good work design, but it’s also important that you recognise the signs of burnout and mental health concerns so you can support employees by making changes at work.
  • Leadership: Small businesses also scored higher in leadership than medium and large businesses. The way small business owners lead can impact the culture of their workplace and employees expect their leaders to run a safe work environment. You can do this by creating a mentally healthy and positive workplace environment for yourself and your team.
  • Capability: Small businesses scored lower in capability to improve workplace mental health and wellbeing than larger businesses. This is likely due to lack of time, resources and know-how. Improving capability in identifying and responding to mental health concerns will make your workplace a safer one for all. Sign-up for our Business Wellbeing Online Training.

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