Workplace mental health injuries are on the rise with active psychological claims increasing by 5% in the last financial year, according to new data from leading workers compensation insurer, Allianz.
In addition to this increase in psychological claims, Allianz research has found that more than two-thirds (69%) of Australian employees surveyed have not had a conversation with their employer about their mental health since the start of the pandemic, which remains unchanged from 2020.
COVID-19 has not only raised concerns about employee mental health, but also the lack of strategies that organisations have in place to support employees, with 43% of those surveyed saying their workplace has not introduced new mental health initiatives since the start of the pandemic.
The Allianz research also revealed the main pressure points for employees, led by worries or concerns with balancing work and personal life (67%), increased pressure and workload (31%) and ineffective or unfair management (27%).
Employers, on the other hand, say that employees working remotely (68%), maintaining a positive culture (28%) and completing targets or deadlines (28%) are the biggest negative impact from a management perspective.
Allianz Australia chief general manager for personal injury, Julie Mitchell said not all injuries in the workplace are physical, they can be mental too.
“We’re observing growth in the number of people accessing benefits for a psychological claim related to their workplace. What’s more, while the pandemic is impacting injured workers’ return to work – with treatments and appointments delayed – due to lockdowns, the loss of routine also has a direct correlation with an individual’s recovery and holistic wellbeing,” she said.
“We’re encouraging preventative measures and resources as key to supporting employees’ mental health while living in a pandemic world and beyond. The workplace needs to create a space that facilitates safe and secure conversations to ensure employees feel mentally supported throughout the pandemic and beyond. For this to happen, organisations need to constantly be updating and evolving their approach and making sure their team is aware of the support systems in place.”
Beyond the challenges in the workplace, employers and employees are looking to the future with hope and positivity. Nearly three quarters (74%) of employers have a plan to implement mental health strategies and express more empathy and emotional intelligence (39%), empower employee workplace flexibility (37%) and create a space that fosters safe and collaborative environments (35%).