Skip to content

The future of work and workplaces: What small business owners should know

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have surveyed 1400 Australian workers to gain a better understanding of current workplace strengths and issues, and have made recommendations to help workplaces adapt and thrive into the future. The report takes into account the significant impact of COVID-19 on people’s home and work life, and how this changes the way we look at work going forward.

Six key findings are discussed in the report:

  • Prime-aged workers (ages 18-55) reported worse workplace health two years into the pandemic than mature-aged workers. Of these, 50% feel exhausted at work, 40% feel less motivated, and they are two times more likely to feel they do not have enough time to do their job.
  • The pandemic has left those caring for children or ageing family members working harder, feeling exhausted and thinking about quitting work, more so than those without caregiving responsibilities. Despite this, 40% feel they are more productive than pre-pandemic.
  • Workers with chronic illnesses reported work is making them sick, with more than half saying work has made their health condition worse or has partially caused their illness. Working with a chronic illness is hard, and over 40% of people with a chronic illness want to quit their job.
  • Discrimination is reported by workers including those with a chronic illness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, caregivers and women. Chronically ill workers most frequently experienced workplace mistreatment such as being treated unfairly, being rejected from a job and harassment.
  • Workers are more productive in new ways of work, such as flexible, hybrid, and remote work options. The report showed that flexible workers were less exhausted, more motivated and have more time to complete tasks. The majority of workers said they would look for another job if flexibility was not offered.
  • The Australian workforce is not prepared for the future of work and the impact of technology. Half of all Australians don’t feel like their jobs are at risk of automation and artificial intelligence.

Small business owners should understand the current issues facing workers so they can put strategies in place to address these and safeguard their business into the future. Businesses should consider improving mental health at work, re-evaluating job design, introducing flexibility and new ways of working, overcoming discrimination, and embracing new technology.

Subscribe to news

Keep up-to-date on small business and mental health information via our newsletter.

More news articles