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LISA... is a parent support and lobby group, for parents and families with a family member having an intellectual or multiple disability, and living in a supported accommodation group home in the State of Victoria, Australia.
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A recent survey conducted by beyondblue and Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance
revealed that workplace mental health is ranked second only to pay as the
important factor when choosing a new job.

“If Australian businesses want to be employers of choice and attract and keep the best and most talented people, they have to create mentally healthy workplaces." - Jeff Kennett AC, Chairman, Beyondblue.

Researchers surveyed over 1,000 Australian workers and found not only do they value mentally healthy workplaces above things such as workplace culture and commuting time, but they will leave a job if it impacts negatively on their mental health.

The survey has been released as part of Heads Up, an Australian-first campaign launched by beyondblue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance in May 2014. The campaign encourages business leaders to take action in the workplace on mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

Beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett AC said the findings highlight the growing need for employers to create mentally healthy workplaces in order to attract and retain staff.

"If Australian businesses want to be employers of choice and attract and keep the best and most talented people, they have to create mentally healthy workplaces," says Kennett.

"This may seem obvious, but unfortunately too many workplaces still lack adequate mental health policies, which are the backbone of a workplace environment which supports the mental health of its staff. These latest findings show that employers need to listen to their workers, or they will leave. It adds to a growing body of evidence, including a recent PwC report, that shows if businesses are not investing in mental health they are losing staff, productivity and money.

"Not only is a mentally healthy workplace mindful of people's workloads and the stressors they face, but staff with flexible working arrangements and who feel supported by their managers bring huge productivity gains for employers. This is a win-win situation and businesses can't afford to ignore it," says Kennett.

The survey, conducted by Instinct and Reason, found that while 31 per cent of workers listed pay as the most important factor when choosing a job, second-placed was mental health in the workplace on 14 per cent, ahead of culture and ability to discuss things openly (11 per cent), reward and recognition (8 per cent) and commute (8 per cent). It also found that around one in five (17 per cent) workers had left more than one job because of its poor mental health environment and that more than a quarter (28 per cent) of workers had left one. Other key findings:

  • Women are more likely than men to have left a job due to its poor mental health conditions;
  • Younger workers are more likely to leave a job due to its poor mental health conditions, with more than half (58 per cent) of people aged under 40 doing so. This compares to less than half (47 per cent) aged 40-59 and around a quarter (27 per cent) aged over 60;
  • Almost eight in ten (79 per cent) workers aged under 30 believe mentally healthy workplaces are important when looking for a job. This falls to 77 per cent for those aged 30-39, 68 per cent for those aged 40-59 and 63 per cent for those aged over 60; and,
  • Overall, seven in ten (71 per cent) workers think mentally healthy workplace are important when looking for a job, with a third (34 per cent) saying it's essential or very important.

Since launching, Heads Up has seen more than 900 businesses register and has attracted more than 13,000 people to its website.

"It makes good business sense to have people looking forward to going to work in a place where they are respected, treated well and are not overloaded with work and expected to meet impossible deadlines. This leads to ongoing stress which can develop into depression and anxiety," says Kennett.

Visit Headsup to find out more about how you can create a mentally healthy workplace

LISA Note:  Article reprinted with the kind permission of Great Southern Press, and appeared in the July 2014 edition of  ‘Third Sector’ magazine.

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