Workplace Profiles

Workplace size profile

Workplace mental health tends to vary substantially based on size, with small workplaces historically outperforming large workplaces in every domain except policy as large organisations generally have dedicated resources for policy development. However, the upheaval of a global pandemic has also shifted some of these previous trends. Select the number of people in your workplace (within Australia) to see how it compares to others of a similar size and read about key areas to focus on.

Mid-sized workplaces (200-999 workers within Australia) have adapted to the challenges of an extended pandemic better than workplaces of any other size. Recording an overall thriving workplace score of 67.3 out of 100, this year’s increase of 2.3 points is well ahead of other workplaces and positions mid-sized workplaces as the most mentally healthy places to work.

All of the domains improved substantially, led by strong gains in capability (+2.9 points to 67.7) and culture (+2.5 points to 67.4). Connectedness remained the best performing domain, recording an index score above 70 for the first time (+2.2 points to 70.3).

Compared to 2020, workplaces are using the skills of their workforce far more effectively. There has also been a leap forward in providing access to mental health education and team resources, with strong improvement in people’s ability to support colleagues' mental health. Remote working skills have also improved dramatically during this time, with leaders increasingly trusting and communicating with remote teams. Unsurprisingly, people are feeling more engaged with their work and there’s a growing sense that people are looking to stay with their workplace in the long-term.

While every indicator of workplace mental health improved, these workplaces would benefit from leaders providing more constructive feedback, recognising good work and role modelling their workplace values. Building a stronger sense of team identity and commitment would also help build on their successes so far.

People employed in the Information Media and Telecommunications industry experienced the most change, with 4 in 5 workers impacted.
Large-scale implementation of new technology impacted nearly 1 in 4 workers (24.0%), particularly those working in organisations with at least 200 employees and/or based in New South Wales or Victoria. Workplaces in these two states, which were in lockdown for the majority of the research period, also led the way in switching delivery channels, with 1 in 10 workers impacted.

Workplaces with less than 200 workers, that were able to continue operating, also adapted well to the challenges of 2021. Micro workplaces (2-19 workers) are slightly ahead with an overall thriving workplace score of 66.6 (up 0.6 points) with small workplaces (20 -199 workers) up 0.8 points to 65.9. Both represent new high scores for workplaces of that size, and were supported most strongly by gains in policy, capability and culture. Connectedness remained a strength in these smaller workplaces, especially micro workplaces with a higher score than any of the larger workplaces (72.7).

These smaller workplaces showed the strongest gains in communicating with remote colleagues, and both improved their approach to team resourcing and preventing bullying and harassment. However, some of their other strengths weren’t shared, with people in small workplaces feeling more comfortable raising issues about their role while people in micro workplaces felt less comfortable. Similarly, small workplaces are using their workers' talents more effectively, while workers in micro workplaces have declined in this area. On the flipside, micro workplaces now have better mental health-related policies to help people return to work than many larger organisations.

Most of the indicators of mentally healthy leadership went backward, with micro workplaces losing more of the ground gained in 2020 than small workplaces. These workplaces would benefit from focusing on promoting good mental health practices, role modelling workplace values, and being more accessible and willing to provide constructive feedback. Acting as champions for their teams is also important, with leaders needing to rebuild a sense of team cohesion and trust. Micro workplaces specifically need to concentrate on providing more professional development opportunities in the future as this has really dropped off over the last year. Addressing these issues will be critical as there is a reduced sense that people in smaller workplaces want to stay there long-term.

People employed in the Information Media and Telecommunications industry experienced the most change, with 4 in 5 workers impacted.
Large-scale implementation of new technology impacted nearly 1 in 4 workers (24.0%), particularly those working in organisations with at least 200 employees and/or based in New South Wales or Victoria. Workplaces in these two states, which were in lockdown for the majority of the research period, also led the way in switching delivery channels, with 1 in 10 workers impacted.

While workplaces with at least 1,000 workers were better equipped financially to weather the changes brought on by the pandemic, it has come at a cost to the mental health of their workforce. Large workplaces (1,000-4,999 workers) recorded the largest decline of 1.7 points for an overall thriving workplace score of 64.5 as they lost ground in all five domains. Huge workplaces (5000+ workers) remained fairly steady at 64.3 (-0.1 points) due to small gains in policy and capability mostly offsetting the declines.

Both workplace groups found leadership and connectedness more challenging this year. These workplaces were slower to embrace remote working arrangements, with fewer leaders communicating effectively with remote workers compared to leaders in smaller workplaces. This ties in with leaders being less accessible this year, and a reduced focus on championing their work teams.

Large workplaces are particularly struggling to maintain healthy connections, with a downturn in care and respect in the workplace, and the ability to overcome difficult circumstances as a team. In contrast, huge workplaces are primarily struggling with creating a sense of shared purpose.

There was a surprising downturn in several policy indicators this year, given larger workplaces tend to perform better in this domain. Fewer workers are seeing mental health policies in action, with visibility of policies around transparent decision making also reduced. Compared to 2020, people in large workplaces are far less convinced that they have good policies relating to workplace mental health and returning to work after taking time off for mental health reasons.

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Despite improved access to mental health education and confidential support services, there’s been a worrying cultural shift away from openly discussing issues that affect mental health. This is particularly concerning since the workplace culture of larger organisations is now far less mentally healthy than in smaller organisations and open discussion is vital to stemming the decline.

People employed in the Information Media and Telecommunications industry experienced the most change, with 4 in 5 workers impacted.
Large-scale implementation of new technology impacted nearly 1 in 4 workers (24.0%), particularly those working in organisations with at least 200 employees and/or based in New South Wales or Victoria. Workplaces in these two states, which were in lockdown for the majority of the research period, also led the way in switching delivery channels, with 1 in 10 workers impacted.