Wellness at Work – Shifting Expectations to Workplace Mental Health


The need for greater wellness initiatives and strategies in the workplace rises amidst an emotionally challenging and volatile two years throughout the pandemic. The beginning of the pandemic saw lots of workers shift to work from home or be forced to quit altogether - a period termed as the Great Resignation. Hustlers and career aspirants were forced to spend time at home, where they were able to reconnect with family, friends and neglected aspects of their lives. Having had the opportunity to experience a family-centred and less work-focused lifestyle, and knowing that it’s possible to integrate the two, they wish to continue that. Now that businesses are struggling to fill vacancies, there is a need for them to adapt and step up to these new workplace expectations. When businesses place emphasis and value on workplace mental health and wellness, employees are more likely to feel fulfilled, valued and respected, and work more productively. The Wellness at Work report by Employment Hero documents wellness through seven interconnected dimensions, and shines a light on the benefits of adopting a wellness strategy in the workplace.

There’s a vicious cycle prevalent amongst a lot of workers currently where the stress and anxiety from the pandemic, mixed with long working hours, often results in burnout, fatigue and poor work-life balance. 52% of Employment Hero’s wellness survey respondents said that their stress levels were negatively impacted due to the pandemic, and this overwhelming stress leads to many individuals feeling burnt out. Headspace defines ‘burnout’ as “exhausted, emotionally drained, unproductive, and unmotivated at work”. Burnout, work-life balance and productivity are intrinsically linked together - when people are burnt out, they feel less productive. People who are less productive feel like they have poor work-life balance. People with poor work-life balance feel burnt out, and so the cycle repeats. There is increased expectations on businesses to have strategies that prevent this cycle from existing and repeating. However only half of all Australian businesses support mental health - a significant increase over the last few decades, but still only 50%. With the introduction of work from home arrangements, managers need to be able to find a way to be open with their employees across hybrid working modes. 

Having been given the opportunity to slow down and reconnect with important areas of their lives, many people have questioned their career. The Great Resignation came with an onslaught of people prepared to quit their jobs in search of a more fulfilling, balanced and ambitious career over high income and a job title. 36% of workers agreed that the pandemic resulted in a decreased perception of their career. But this lowered perception doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a decrease in job performance, instead the opposite - it could actually lead to reduced stress and better productivity and output. Workplaces can improve career health by investing in employees’ development, valuing their contribution and creating an environment where employees feel content and fulfilled in their professional career. Employers can create flexible career development and coaching strategies, articulating company values and missions to resonate with employees, reward and recognise great work and setting clear, achievable goals. The future of work and wellness perks are set to change as people value investment in emotional health and flexible working arrangements that make working more accessible for mothers/caretakers, people who live far away and people with disabilities.

One of the biggest identified threats to employee wellness is financial stress. The result of staff shortages, inflation, supply chain issues and rising cost of fuel and energy has created a situation where 56% of employees are stressed about money. Central to discussions of income and financial health is perceptions of fair pay. 31% of survey respondents reported that they did not feel like they received fair pay - with women 10% more likely to disagree that they have been paid fairly.  We have already discussed the impact of the gender pay gap through our article on retirement inequality here. Financial stress is one of the subtlest forms of anxiety, however it can bleed out into employees’ performance during the work day. Only 23% reported that financial stress had no impact on them at all, meaning that a significant 77% of Australians experience a range of symptoms from low motivation, fatigue and reduced productivity to being unable to keep up with work, missing deadlines and not attending meetings. Discussing money is often treated as a taboo topic at the workplace, but employers can help through other forms of assistance including rewarding employees for overtime, paid bonuses and additional superannuation payments. Non-monetary help from employers could also take the form of educational resources, helping employees invest in stocks or automatically directing part of an earned salary to investments. 

A few decades ago workplace wellness was not an area that employers were required to invest in. But a shift in work trends and the change in mindset as a result of the pandemic has highlighted the need for businesses to take into account the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees. When employees feel supported by a workplace they will respond by being productive and loyal. Australian businesses are moving in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done. 

Our Ideas are the compilation of thoughts and moments in time amidst a constantly evolving world. An awareness of art, design, sustainability and branding inform the work that we create. Ideas encapsulates our perspective and the lens through which we perceive the past, present and future. 

Recent Articles

Hortenzia is a full-service design studio delivering creative and strategic outcomes across branding, design, production and digital.

Hortenzia acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong Boon Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation as the traditional and ongoing custodians of the lands on which we work. We pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded and recognise First Nations peoples’ rights to self-determination and continuing connections to land, waters and community.

We respect and welcome people of all backgrounds, identities, sexualities, abilities and cultures.

358 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000


(03) 9670 0973

Instagram   TikTok   LinkedIn

All rights reserved © Hortenzia 2024.