Almost 8 in 10 employees (79%) are looking to initiate a crucial conversation with their manager this year, yet 43% do not feel comfortable initiating such a discussion, according to new research from leading workers compensation insurer, Allianz Australia.

A crucial conversation is defined as a discussion with high stakes, differing opinions and strong emotions, and if handled poorly or ignored, the outcome can lead to strained relationships or broader mental health issues in the workplace. 

The new research comes as Allianz data reveals workplace mental health injuries are continuing to rise, with active psychological injury claims increasing 12% since the pandemic began. In response, Allianz is seeking to understand the current challenges facing both employees and senior managers in the workplace, and the barriers in conducting crucial conversations. 

More than one-third (35%) of employees do not feel satisfied with their employer’s ability to create a mentally healthy workplace, and nearly one-quarter (24%) are not satisfied with how often their manager checks in with them about their mental health. 

In contrast, nearly one-quarter (24%) of managers say they proactively check in with team members regularly to create opportunities to share their concerns about mental health, however, almost one-third (31%) have an expectation that their teams need to make them aware. 

While two in five (43%) managers believe that facilitating crucial conversations and having an open discussion promotes a mentally healthy workplace, the research found that 65% of employees would not turn to their manager first to conduct these conversations, with 41% of those turning to their peers or someone outside their workplace before their manager.  

“Many Australians have approached 2022 with new expectations and a fresh perspective around how they’ll manage work in their lives. Last year Australian employees told us that they are struggling to find balance, with the lines between work and personal time continuing to blur. To that effect, facilitating transparent conversations is critical to ensure expectations are managed and heard,” Allianz Australia chief general manager for personal injury, Julie Mitchell said.

“While having open and honest conversations is extremely important to facilitate a mentally healthy workplace, the research shows employees are avoiding them or find them somewhat uncomfortable, creating a disconnect between managers and their staff. 

“Whether it be about flexible working arrangements, annual leave or even a promotion, these topics are going to surface, and they need to be prioritised. The steady rise in psychological injury claims highlights that this needs to be a focus, yet our research has shown that the majority of employees[5] have not had training on how to conduct these conversations,” she added.

To encourage more open and honest conversations, Allianz has developed the Crucial Conversations ToolkitsThe downloadable resources offer tangible tips to facilitateeffective conversations in the workplace. 

Allianz has also shared the following tips to help conduct crucial conversations:


  • Write a list of the topics you want to discuss and think about how you’re going to discuss them. This can help you feel more confident when entering the conversation. 
  • Know that it is ok to feel nervous, and consider speaking to a support person before, during or after your crucial conversation.
  • Clearly share your expectations for the meeting upfront, ensuring you’re working towards a positive outcome.
  • Approach the meeting with solutions in mind, while being open to negotiating to ensure the solution is suitable for all involved.
  • Follow up on the conversation in writing to ensure you and your manager are aligned on the discussion and agree on the solution that has been reached. 


  • Before the meeting, look to understand what the discussion will be about so you can lean on internal resources or support teams where needed. 
  • Bring an empathetic and respectful approach to the discussion. While you may not personally agree with the approach to the topic, expressing empathy will help you digest their perspective and allow them to feel heard. 
  • Use verbal and body language techniques such as direct eye contact and relaxed voice and facial expressions to set a safe tone for the discussion.  
  • Follow up in writing with the next steps following the conversation. Where appropriate, discuss the matter with your HR team or your own direct manager to determine an appropriate solution. 
  • Suggest solutions to your organisation to further support your team, for example, modernising your workplace mental health policy.