Graph – Culture score over time

Workplace culture refers to the unique unwritten rules that govern a workplace’s norms and routines, and what is and isn’t considered acceptable. Positive cultures drive increased employee engagement and organisational effectiveness. Both of these are linked to improved business performance.

Graph – Culture score over time

The culture domain index score improved marginally in the last 12 months (up 0.6 points to 66 points out of 100). This is primarily due to workers’ growing commitment to their teams (up 1.3 percentage points (pp) to a new high of 23.9%) and motivation to work hard because their job is important to them (+0.9pp to 21.3%). Both of these are essential for a mentally healthy culture, and help support team cohesion when colleagues are working remotely.

Over the last 12 months, media and community health organisations have promoted the importance of good mental health practices and employers have had access to a variety of resources, tools, training and other initiatives to support workplace mental health. However, it’s become slightly less common for workplaces to encourage open discussions about workers’ mental health in 2021 (-0.7pp to 13.1%). While some industries experienced positive change in this area, it was outweighed by substantial decreases in Education and Training (-5.0pp), Manufacturing (-2.4pp) and Health Care and Social Assistance (-2.2pp). The location of workplaces had an impact too, with declines concentrated in Victoria (-1.7pp) and New South Wales (-1.5pp).

What can you do to improve culture?

Regular discussions about mental health, including identifying any issues that are impacting people, can build trust, understanding and a culture of care.

There are some simple steps you can take to create an open culture, including:

  • Have leaders openly discuss their mental health.
  • Get managers to have regular one-on-one meetings with team members and discuss their mental health. Read more about how to check in with our blog, The art of checking in.
  • Run regular ‘lunch and learn’ sessions on different mental health topics. There are plenty of TED talks you can use, or SuperFriend has a range of topics to suit your workplace.
  • Use the first five minutes in team meetings as a wellbeing check-in, and follow up with anyone who isn’t doing well.
  • Encourage workers to check in with each other. They could set aside 30 minutes each month to catch up with a different colleague. R U OK? has a range of resources to help them with the conversation.
Learn more about how SuperFriend can help

Where culture improved:

Wholesale Trade

Up 4.6 points to 67.7

Arts and Recreation Services

+2.8 points to 67.9

Retail Trade

+2.6 points to 65.2

Public Administration and Safety

+2.6 points to 64.9

Medium-sized workplaces with 200-999 workers

+2.5 points to 67.4

Casual workers

+2.6 points to 64.7

Where culture declined:

Health Care and Social Assistance

down 1.8 points to 65.7

Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services

-1.3 points to 66.7

Education and Training

-1.0 points to 66.2

Not-for-profit organisations

-2.4 points to 66.0

Large workplaces with 1000-4999 workers

-2.0 points to 64.1